COMMENTARY | Over the past few years, fans have debated whether or not the Boston Celtics were Rajon Rondo's team. Although he often appeared to be the best player on the team, many questioned his ability to lead.
Rondo is a player who consistently posts gaudy assist numbers, even sometimes at the expense of his own scoring. Some believe that he has been a product of great teammates, and others claim that he has kept his older, future Hall of Fame teammates productive. Neither school of thought is entirely true, and the reality is probably somewhere in the middle.
The NBA is in an era with a handful of undeniably great players: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, etc. After the very top group, there are plenty of players who are on the verge of being elite, which is right where Rajon Rondo is.
As of right now, it would be hard to definitively call Rajon Rondo elite.
A better way of putting this might be that Rajon Rondo is an elite talent, but he has failed to turn this into elite production. He has the ability to dominate a game in multiple ways on both ends of the floor, as he has shown during his time in Boston. If you're skeptical and need a reminder of just how great he can be, watch here how he torched the Miami Heat for 44 points and almost single-handedly won a playoff game against the eventual champions. Still, even with these glimpses of greatness, he never seems to put it all together for a long stretch.
Chris Paul, the league's best point guard, is a perfect example of how a point guard should control a game. Paul looks to get his teammates involved with high quality looks, but he also has the ability to break down a defense with his own scoring if needed. With his poor perimeter shooting and lack of aggression to consistently look to score, Rondo is clearly a huge step behind Chris Paul.
This season will be a huge test for Rajon Rondo. After a serious knee injury, he will be expected to lead this new Boston roster. While many are expecting the team to be near the very bottom of the standings, Rondo has the chance to prove people wrong by raising the play of his teammates. He is already a very good player, but he can truly be elite when he has a fire underneath him. Of course, the problem is that the fire isn't always there.
Rondo still has the ability to become an elite player, and he very well may. It's quite possible that the slow, half-court offense that the Celtics have been running with older players has prevented him from becoming an elite player. Although he can be a one-man transition game, he has never had a team that compliments his style. With a new head coach in Brad Stevens, the Celtics may look to run in transition more with Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace.
For now, Rajon Rondo is not an elite player in the NBA. However, it sure will be fun to watch him try to prove me wrong this season with a different roster and a new coach.
Mark lives in the Boston area and has been covering the Celtics for 3 years. He has been featured on Fox Sports Yardbarker, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated "Hot Clicks", and has been published on Celtics 24/7, Bleacher Report, and Sports-Kings.
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