Thursday, April 30, 2009

RONDO!!!

As great as Derrick Rose has been, there’s NO doubt that Rajon Rondo is the breakout star of this NBA postseason. In the absence of Kevin Garnett, and with Paul Pierce obviously fatigued, Rondo has elevated his game to mythical heights, averaging a triple-double (24.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 10.2 apg), not mention more than 3 steals, in the first five games of Celtics’ Round matchup against the young, hard-charging Bulls. This postseason is hardly a done deal, but should he manage to continue this run, Rajon Rondo would become just the third player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire postseason, adding his name to the following list:


Oscar Robertson, 1961: 28 ppg, 11 rpg, 11 apg in 4 postseason games


Jason Kidd, 2006: 14.6 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 10.9 apg in 12 postseason games


Not bad, huh?


Watching Rondo dominate this series, there’s no doubt he’s raised his level of play, but it hasn’t seemed like he’s been playing over his head. His play over the past couple of weeks has been so spectacular, his leadership and strength of will so sublime, has clearly catapulted him from “top-10 point guard” into the ranks of the NBA’s elite. However, a look back at his regular season stats proves, retroactively, perhaps, that these games have been no fluke. Outstanding, perhaps, but not out of left field. Rajon Rondo’s been this good!


In 80 2008-09 regular season games, in just his third professional season, Rajon Rondo quietly put together one of the best all-around seasons by a point guard in NBA history, producing averages of 11.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.86 steals. This combination of all-around production places Rondo’s season in some rather rare company. Only 49 other times (by 16 other players) in league history has a player averaged 11.9-5-8, with only eight (in bold) achieving the feat in their first three seasons:


Andy Phillip (1951)


Bob Cousy (twice; 1955, 1958)


Guy Rodgers (twice; 1960, 1965)


Oscar Robertson (11 times; 1960-1970)


Wilt Chamberlain (1967)


Walt Frazier (1969)


Lenny Wilkens (3 times; 1967-1969)


Norm Van Lier (1970)


Micheal Ray Richardson (twice; 1979, 1984)


Magic Johnson (10 times; 1981-1990)


Clyde Drexler (1985)


Michael Jordan (1988)


Mookie Blaylock (1993)


Jason Kidd (10 times; 1995, 1998-2006)


Rod Strickland (1997)


Gary Payton (1999)


Chris Paul (2009)


Toss in the numbers for steals, which the NBA only started tracking in 1973, and only eight players can match Rondo’s 2008-09 season (11.9-5-8, and 1.85 steals), and just four (again, in bold) in the first three years of their respective careers:


Micheal Ray Richardson (twice; 1979, 1984)


Magic Johnson (3 times; 1981-1983)


Clyde Drexler (1985)


Michael Jordan (1988)


Mookie Blaylock (1993)


Jason Kidd (8 times; 1995, 1998-2002, 2004 & 2005)


Gary Payton (1999)


Chris Paul (2009)


Thanks to his incredible play against the Chicago Bulls, we are all just now waking up and taking notice of Rajon Rondo’s floor presence and awesome all-around skills, but the reality is that, without blowing anyone away, he’s already put up single-season numbers that very few players in NBA history can match, especially considering just how early in his career it’s happening.


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