In only his third professional season, the 23 year old Rajon Rondo has proven to the league he is one of the best point guards in the game and the best point guard left in the post season. Rondo led the Celtics to an important win against the Magic to tie the series 1-1 before they go on the road to Orlando. Rondo had a triple double in game 2, his third triple double of the post season tying Larry Bird's franchise record. Not too shabby.
GM Danny Ainge was always a fan of Rondo and now we are all seeing why. When Ainge made the blockbuster trade to bring Kevin Garnett to the Celtics, he traded away half the team but refused to give away Rondo. In his first season, Rondo had flashes of how good he could be, but like many rookies, he was inconsistent.
In the 2007-08 off season, Ainge brought in KG and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce, all future hall of famers. With all the veterans on the team, Coach Doc Rivers gave the keys to the bus to his point guard in only his second season in the NBA. Many people thought Rondo would be overwhelmed trying to lead such a great group of veterans. But under Doc Rivers' mentorship, a NBA point guard himself, Rondo continued to improve as the season progressed. By the time the 2008 post season started it was no longer the Big Three. It was the Big Four with Rondo joining the group. The Boston Celtics went on to win their 17th banner and though the veterans stole the spotlight, Rondo was a big factor in bringing the trophy back to Boston.
Rajon Rondo brought a new confidence into the 2008-09 season. I guess that's what happens when you run the point for a championship team. Rondo was great right out of the gate. He pushed the ball with more speed, always in motion. Finding the right guy in the right spot and creating open looks for his teammates when he drove the lane. Rondo was the main reason for the Celtics' 19 game win streak earlier in the season. Rondo matured right before our eyes during the streak. He was no longer a newbie, but a league veteran.
Despite his great play in the first half of the season, Rondo was not voted onto the all star team, giving Rondo even more incentive to show the voters they made a mistake. When KG went down with the knee injury, Rondo put the team on his shoulders. His assist and point totals increased with the big man on the sidelines. The Celtics finished with 62 wins and the number two seed.
In the first round of '09 post season, Rajon was spectacular, almost averaging a triple double. Rondo proved during this round of the playoffs no one can guard him, not even Derrick Rose, the '09 Rookie of the Year. In the classic triple OT game, Rondo had a franchise record 19 assists. Now its game 2 in the 2nd round, Rondo's stats, 15 points, 11 rebounds and a staggering 18 assists plus a monster dunk putting the Magic away. The Celtics beat the Magic 112 to 94.
The NBA elite point guards include Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul, Jason Kidd, Deron Williams and Steve Nash. Rondo has graduated to this class of great point guards. He is one of the fastest players in the game. From the moment he gets the ball on the defensive end, he is already half way down the court looking to make a play. Rondo is one of the best rebounding point guards in the NBA as well. He is able to sky in the air with his long arms and takes away most rebounds intended for the forwards. Rondo averaged 8.2 assists/game, ranked 6th in the league, up from 5.1 assists/game last season. In the post season, Rondo is averaging 11.1 assists/game, the highest average of the post season. If the Celtics are going to make it past the Orlando Magic to the Eastern Conference Finals, Rajon Rondo must keep up this great play.
Rajon will be up to the challenge. I expect another big night from him when the Celtics play the Magic for game 3 in Orlando Friday. Maybe another triple double.
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Written by johnw