Rondo Rising During PG Renaissance

All-Star

BOSTON – Ten years ago the point guard position was possibly the weakest position in the entire NBA. There were only two point guards in the league who averaged more than 9.0 APG during the 2001-02 season.

Fast-forward to the present day and you could easily make the argument that point guard is the deepest position in the NBA, highlighted by the likes of Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose and Deron Williams. Nearly every team in the league has either a star player or a youngster who’s capable of reaching star status at that position.

One of the men who has already reached that level is the Rondo, who’s starring for the Boston Celtics. He is a two-time All-Star and finished second in the league in assists last year with 11.2 dimes per game. That average trailed only two-time MVP Steve Nash’s average of 11.4 per game.

Rondo has been at it again this season and currently leads the league in assists with 10.1 per game. But there’s something different about him this season, something that a lot of teams are taking notice of. The sixth-year vet has taken his shooting and professionalism up a notch, and that’s leading to a career year on the court.

The Celtics have watched Rondo put up a career-high 15.8 PPG through the first nine games of the season, thanks in large part to his improved shooting. Rondo is making 51.9 percent of his field goals and 37.5 percent of his 3-pointers. Both of those numbers are career highs. He's tops in the league in assists, and ranks sixth among point guards in steals.

There’s no questioning that Boston’s point guard has already arrived as a star in this league. That’s what makes it all the more impressive that he continues to improve his game year-in and year-out despite the fact that the opposing point guard talent continues to get better and better.

Just look at the stretch of talent that Rondo is in the midst of facing off against: John Wall, Darren Collison (twice), Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Jose Calderon, Steve Nash. The list goes on and on. There just isn’t an off night on the radar at this position, and Rondo knows it.

“That’s just the point guard position,” Rondo said. “It’s not just this year, it’s been like that last year and the year before even. With this stretch, you named the players (above), but you’ve still got guys like Steve Nash and Anthony Parker that, any given night you can get embarrassed, pretty much.”

Rondo isn’t the type of player who’s embarrassed very often. Instead, he opts to do the embarrassing. Many of his dazzling moves, which almost always lead to a beautiful assist or impressive basket, leave announcers screaming out that opponents have officially been “Rondo’d.”

The Dallas Mavericks were Rondo’d several times on Wednesday night when Rondo dropped game highs of 24 points and seven dimes on them. Jason Kidd, one of the top point guards of all time, wasn’t playing in that game due to a sore back, but that doesn’t mean Rondo thought for one second that he could take the Mavs lightly.

“You have to respect your opponent,” Rondo said, “regardless of if they’re MVPs or future Hall of Famers or they’re just getting in the league. You still have to respect everyone.”

Respect is something that Rondo is getting from everyone nowadays. The Celtics may only be 4-5 at the moment, but his game is operating at an all-around level it has never reached in the past.

Maybe he’s playing so well due to that improved shooting, or maybe it’s the fact that he refuses to take any opponent lightly. Whatever the reason might be, it’s working, and Doc Rivers doesn’t want it to change. Rivers definitely isn’t worried about his point guard playing too fast. He’s more concerned about his teammates possibly slowing him down.

“Rondo’s just playing terrific,” Rivers said after Wednesday night’s game, “and we’ve got to allow him to be terrific. We shouldn’t get in his way.”

The rest of the NBA players who make their living at the loaded point guard position are trying to slow him down, but it’s just not working.

At a time that might eventually be called the Golden Age of the point guard, Rondo is showing us all that he might be the best of the bunch.