I started this post out thinking I would link to the NBA All Star voting page, and plug Rajon Rondo’s name, but then I started doing some research, and I think Rajon has a legitimate case to be considered beyond pure UK homerism (I won’t lie, that’s where this started) and his awesome season so far for my fantasy team.
Here’s a link to vote- http://www.nba.com/allstar2009/asb/eng/ballot.html. They make you register, which is dumb, but it’s worth it to support Rajon.
When you submit your ballot, you vote for 2 guards, 2 forwards, and a center from each conference, so I’m going to argue why Rondo should be one of the 2 guards you vote for. Let’s think about the Eastern Conference balloting. Center is a no brainer—Dwight Howard is the pick and it’s not even close. The guy is averaging 21 points, 14 boards, and 4 blocks a night. Moving on to forward, LeBron James is another no brainer. At the other forward, there are a few justifiable votes in my mind. Chris Bosh is deserving, as is KG, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison among others. Go which ever way you like, but I like having a traditional lineup with PG, SG, SF, PF, and C, so I like KG or Bosh, with KG getting the nod due to track record. Now to talk about the guard spots. Dwyane Wade is the man, and even if you don’t like him, he may be having the best season of any player in the League so far, so he gets the spot at the 2. Joe Johnson has a case, but he hasn’t been playing as well lately, and now that he is playing the 2 exclusively, I don’t feel comfortable putting D-Wade and Johnson on the same ballot.
The question now becomes, which point guard is most deserving of the last spot. Guys who should be considered in my mind are Devin Harris, Derrick Rose, José Calderón, Chris Duhon (begrudgingly), and Rajon Rondo. These guys are all having nice seasons, and all are very different players. Now I get to tell you why I think Rondo is worthy of your vote.
First of all, the kid really wants it. Apathy on All Star Weekend is not something you want out of a player you help put in the game, and based on what Rajon has said in his blog (http://www.yardbarker.com/rajonrondo), I think he would be more than a willing participant in any event throughout the weekend. Also, I think he would thrive in the wide open style of play of the All Star Game. There are plenty of steals, rebounds, and assists to go around in the game, and I can think of only point guard (Chris Paul) in the NBA who is better when I think about these three categories than Rajon.
These two arguments are nice, but the other four guys can make similar ones, so I’ll get down to Rajon’s performance so far this season. Rajon is third among Eastern Conference PG’s in assists with 7.6 per game (behind Calderón and Duhon). He is also third in assist to turnover ratio behind Calderon and Antonio Daniels. Rondo is also fourth in the entire NBA in steals per game with 2.3, which is nearly double the amount of the highest total among the five aforementioned players (Duhon with 1.2 spg). Rajon also leads Eastern Conference point guards in rebounding, with 4.9 per game. TJ Ford is next with 4.6, and then Derrick Rose with 3.9 per contest. That’s not even really close.
Rondo’s production also comes in significantly fewer minutes than the other four guys. Duhon (40.2 mpg), Rose (38.3), Calderón (36.4), and Harris (35.8) get more minutes than all other Eastern Conference point guards, whereas Rondo only plays 31.5 minutes per game, simply because the Celtics are so good that they can afford to not have him on the floor all the time, and they are blowing teams out most of the time.
The two statistical areas that Rondo detractors will point to are shooting and scoring. Clearly, these are important areas, but you have to remember that point guard is not typically a position where scoring is the number one concern (although Devin Harris and the Nets would beg to differ). Rondo, in particular, plays on a team with three other guys who people consider stars in this league, who need to put up shots. Rondo defers to these guys because he recognizes his role on the defending champion Celtics, and when he needs to, he steps up and acts as option number one. Most of the time he is there to make sure the offense gets set up properly and that the big two and half get the ball in position to score.
Rondo is last among the five candidates in scoring with 10.3 points per game. This is a function of his role in the offense and the fact that he is on the court for fewer minutes than his competitors. Rondo is the only player among these five to shoot over 50% from the field (52.4%), so when he does shoot the ball, he is effective. Rondo is not a factor from three point range, but of these five only Calderón and Duhon are shooting over 35% on the season from distance, and Rose is only shooting 34.8% while Harris and Rondo both are shooting 33.3%. (All stats from espn.com).
The point guard position, much like a quarterback in football or a catcher in baseball, is measured just as much by the performance and record of the team than individual statistics, and Rajon Rondo is the point guard for the team with the best record in basketball, and it’s no coincidence that the Celtics current 12 game win streak is occurring at the same time as Rajon’s best stretch of play in his career. As a matter of fact, only Devin Harris’ New Jersey Nets are above .500 on the season (11-8), 7.5 games behind the Celtics in the Atlantic division.
Here’s how I would rank the five:
2) Harris-I can understand a vote for him. He is having a breakout season, and his team is playing decent ball as well. I like Rondo over him because of Rondo’s passing, rebounding, defense and ability to run his team.
3) José Calderón-He’s a nice player—a great passer and shooter (43-43 from the line this season…wow). Numbers are pretty similar to Rondo; he’s got a slight advantage in scoring and assists, but Rondo plays better D and hits the boards much harder. Plus, the Raptors are one of the big disappointments of this early season (and he got his coach fired!).
4) Derrick Rose-You can pencil him in as All Star starter for probably 8 of the next ten years, but it’s just not his time yet. He’s leading a bad team, and he turns the ball over more than Rondo. He’s got Rajon in scoring, but Rajon makes up for it in other areas.
5) Chris Duhon-He’s a Dukie, and he’s the Kliff Kingsbury/BJ Symons of the NBA this year (system point guard).
Here’s the link to vote again: http://www.nba.com/allstar2009/asb/eng/ballot.html This post turned out to be a bit longer than a simple Rondo plug, huh?