October 14, 2009

NBA Top 50: Rajon Rondo (No. 13)


OtB is counting down the days 'til the NBA 2009-10 season tips off by ranking the top 50 players in the league. On Wednesday there are/were 13 days left.

When drawing up this list, I actually wrote about Rondo, "He’s not higher because it’s yet to be seen if he can lead (and if the team can allow him to lead) like he did in the playoffs." After thirty-seven days of writing up write-ups on the best NBA players (save this last baker's dozen), I'm not sure if I still agree with this ranking for Rajon. I was impressed enough by his play in the playoffs to pump up the volume and give him the coveted one-three spot. The numbers are there. Twelve points, eight assists, and five rebounds regular season? Solid. In the playoffs? Try out nearly 17 points, and just under ten assists and boards. That's epic. That's Big O numbers. Oh, and great defense. Heading into this season, though, I gotta say I'm feeling a bit hesitant about this position for Rondo.

Ahead of Paul Pierce? I just busted out that Pierce piece for the fortnight edition of Top 50, and if you missed it I compared Pierce and Kevin Garnett to British kings of old. Rondo? He's like Robin Hood. Sure, he's been lionized beyond the rep of Richard the Lionheart, but was he ever charged with the responsibility of leading a nation of men into battle? No. Robin Rondo might rob from the rich to give to the poor, but when you get down to it, he's leading a bunch of merry men living as vagabonds in the forest. Sorry, in the wood. Time will tell if Rondo matures into an imperial NBA power like his big brothers in arms. For now, Rondo retains the thirteen spot for the immense potential he displayed throughout the Celt's run to the Eastern Conference finals.

Danny Ainge, for some inexplicable reason, let leak during this offseason that Rondo might not stay with the Celts. I have no idea what that was about, but it could spell two different directions for Red Rondo. (Is it possible Rondo got on the Red Bull tip not to get under the skin of then opponents Chicago Bulls but rather to make a bid for succession of P-double's Auerbach certification of approval? Thin, I know, but athletes have been known to take advertising gigs for less. I've never understood the big deal with those green pieces of paper with Benjamin Franklin on 'em.)

Rondo could take the vote of non-confidence (Why, Danny, why?) as either motivation to light the league on fire this season, or he could take it as the first of many shots potentially coming his way as the future of Boston basketball. Boston's big three of Pierce, Garnett, and Ray Allen has become a big four with the addition of Rasheed Wallace. The loss of Leon Powe seems to signal a focus on the present rather than the future. Will Rondo get lost in the shuffle? He has the potential to be a break out star, but as always these things are delicate and depend on so many factors. It'll be interesting to see how they play out.

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