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Rondology: No Rest for a Point Guard

Posted by paul on November 8, 2012 at 1:00 PM

I think point guard in the NBA may be the toughest position in all of sports.  Because recent NBA rule changes (ie. no hand check) seem to be very friendly to shorter (ie. faster) players,  this is surely the position in the NBA most loaded with talent.   The pool of talent the NBA draws from for point guards is obviously humungous, compared to the pool of talent the NBA draws from for centers.  KG faces tough centers every night, for sure, but Rajon Rondo faces off some of the best players in the league virtually every night.  For him, it's like having to try to handle Dwight Howard every game, every single game.  It's got to be hellaciously tough.   Mario Chalmers one night.  Brandon Jennings the next night.  John Wall the next two nights (Rondo caught a break in that Wall was out, but typically, even backup point guards can blow past just about anyone to the basket).  Jrue Holiday the next night.  CRIMINEY!!!!   Imagine if you were Joe Frazier and had to fight Muhammed Ali every darn night.  

And every draft brings in more fired up young ones.  

Rich Levine, often a very thoughtful writer, had an incredibly annoying piece at CSNNE today, where he pretty much declares that Chris Paul is the best PG in the league today, and Kyrie Irving will be the next best point guard in the league pretty much whenever he cares to seize the crown, which pretty much leaves our own Rondo as an also ran!!   You know, Rich, there's a pretty strong case to be made for our own Rajon Rondo, actually,  but I guess poor Rondo is just never going to be able to win over the local media.  You are in good company, Rondo.  Bill Russell never could either, according to legend.

Still, Levine does make the point that point guard is a position jam packed and chock filled with talent...

As an NBA fan in general, there's really nothing quite like seeing two premiere point guards lead their teams into battle; watching them spend 40-some-odd minutes jostling for control, while simultaneously trying to dictate the tempo and straddle the line between getting theirs and keeping the other guys involved. And lucky for us, it's hard to remember a time when NBA point guard play was as across-the-board exciting and competitive as it is right now.

First off, any discussion of NBA floor generals should begin with a nod to the elders.

Jason Kidd turns 40 in March ... How great was Kidd in his prime? Take a closer look at the rest of the names on those Nets teams that he led to back-to-back Eastern Conference titles. My God.

Andre Miller turns 37 in March, has played for six different teams over 13 seasons and, in that time, has built an extremely steady and underrated resume. ...

Speaking of old men, it's probably/definitely premature to list Steve Nash alongside Kidd and Mille...here's to one of only two point guards in NBA history to win multiple MVPs, and a guy who's 76 assists shy of becoming only the fifth player to register 10,000 in a career.

After the old guys, there's heavy helping of youngsters that are still on the way up, but already capable dominating in spurts and providing even the league's top tier of point guards with all that they can handle. Portland rookie Damian Lillard has exploded onto the scene with the poise and confidence of a seasoned veteran. Brandon Jennings is playing with an extension-less chip on his shoulder and has led the Bucks to a 2-0 start. Kyle Lowry's finally found a happy home in Toronto and (assuming his ankle's all right) will take things to another level. Ty Lawson's already there in Denver, Jrue Holiday's getting closer in Philly and if Steph Curry can just stay healthy, he's a nightly threat for Golden State. Tyreke Evans has all the tools (expect the one between his ears) in Sacramento and is always a risk to go off. Ditto for Jeff Teague in Atlanta and Mario Chalmers in Miami.

Who knows what to expect from Derrick Rose and Ricky Rubio this year ... John Wall still has a lot to prove in Washington...

And that brings us to the top of the heap. We've already discussed Paul and Irving (who might not be there yet, but it won't be long). Then there's Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook. Tony Parker's getting older, but he's still fast as hell and has maintained a firm grip on his elite status.

We spend a lot of time these days arguing over who really deserves the title of "NBA's Best Point Guard." 

It's worthwhile, I think, to keep this in mind as we try to take the measure of Rondo's journey this season.  We all remember how long it took for Rondo to grab last year's team and lead it, without seeming to.  There is a kind of alchemy that has to happen, something that can't be captured in the amazing stats and fabulous stutter-steps that seem to impress Levine so much.   Rondo will get there.  But the journey won't be easy, because not only is Rondo responsible for his team's success, or failure,  more than possibly any other player in the league other than Lebron, but a big part of this is that almost every night he has to contend with the best player on the other team, or close to it.  Almost every night Rondo has to try to do what no guard other than Avery Bradley has been able to consistently do;  stay in front of a hot nba point guard trying to bread down the defense off the dribble or off a pick.  It's a hellaciously tough job.  And it's may be the single most important thing for Rondo to do, as he tries to lead this team.

All of which leads directly to Jrue Holiday.  Holiday has been a bane to Rajon Rondo.  There have been times when Holiday has been able to penetrate the Celtics defense with such ease that it almost seemed like Rondo was not even there.  For that reason, I think  that tomorrow night's game against the Sixers may be the most important game of this young season for Rondo.  No strong NBA point guard can truly be stopped by even a strong defensive player, but it's time for Rajon Rondo to put dampers on Jrue Holiday and seize control of this matchup on the defensive end.   Led the defense spark the offense.

Jrue Holiday is a brilliant young point guard.   He deserves the respect of the Full Rondo.

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Reply Greg
4:35 PM on November 8, 2012 
How can he call Paul the best,he has a right to say that,but Rondo is the local guy. Great points as always.
Reply paul
4:51 PM on November 8, 2012 
I would say it seems insulting, but really, I feel that it's just silly. Just silly. Man, Rich, look at the player right in front of you!
Reply Celticslifer
12:27 AM on November 9, 2012 
I think season hasn't turned out well for most teams that were planned to do big things. Rondo is different, and the time will come when it shows.
Reply paul
7:26 AM on November 9, 2012 
Celticslifer says...
I think season hasn't turned out well for most teams that were planned to do big things. Rondo is different, and the time will come when it shows.

It has been an upside-down season so far. It's interesting to look at who is atop the statistical rankings. Not the usual suspects.

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