I know some of you are thinking, “What does he mean?” “He can’t be serious?”. I know, it seems like a bit much. But I’m not arguing that Rondo is the greatest, not even that he’s the best at his position. I’m arguing that he is the most unique player in the NBA.
Think about it, what comparison could you give me for Rajon Rondo? The 6’1, 175 point guard might be the oddest player at his position in NBA history. He’s a point guard that can’t shoot, but can surely score the ball. He possesses elite athleticism that rivals the top points in the league. He uses that speed and quickness to get to the rim, even with the defenders playing 5-10 feet off of him, and kick the ball out to his scorers. He can drop 20 on you, when ready, but still drop 10-15 dimes too.
Here are a few of Rondo’s scouting report from 2005 when he was coming out of UK. Think about how much they haven’t changed to this day, but also think about how much he’s changed as a player. Think about his improvements and think about who you could possibly compare Rondo to.
“The biggest concern about his game revolves around his perimeter shooting ability. Much like with what we see with big men at the free throw line, Rondo’s massive hands prevent him from being comfortable in his shooting mechanics and show any consistency in his release. We saw his shooting mechanics change drastically all season long, and more often than not it looked like he was heaving a bowling ball at the basket both aesthetically and in terms of the end result. He only hit 18 3-pointers all season long and did it on a dreadful 27% accuracy from this range.”
-Rajon Rondo NBA Draft Scouting Report: Weaknesses – 4/17/2005
“As a point guard, Rondo is of the pass-first variety, being highly unselfish and featuring excellent court vision and passing ability. Although he didn’t always get a chance to show it, he is everything scouts look for in terms of being able to run a team, particularly his intelligence and poise with the ball in his hands, along with his ball-handling skills and natural talent in finding the open man. Rondo is at his best on the drive and dish, being able to get into the lane almost at will thanks to his terrific speed and ball-handling ability, and once he does, being highly creative in finding open shooters spotting up on the wing. He didn’t get to show this off too often, but Rondo is a very flashy playmaker who can thread the needle to spectacular lobs from the perimeter or sharp bounce passes to open cutters. Although his assists average isn’t incredibly high, his assist to turnover ratio is one of the best amongst point guards in this draft at 2.11/1. Rondo is a very confident ball-handler going either left or right, keeping the ball very low to the ground, and is excellent at breaking the full-court press thanks to his terrific speed and poise.”
-Rajon Rondo NBA Draft Scouting Report: Strengths – 4/17/2005
He is a more than willing passer and may have the best vision out of anyone in the NBA. Watch Rondo play, I guarantee you’ll see at least 4 passes where you’ll be like “How did he fit that in there?” or “How did he even see that guy over there.” The perfect example would be when the Celtics were playing the Denver Nuggets. Rondo enters the ball in the post to Kevin Garnett. He then cuts to the bucket where 3 defenders collapse on him, Billups, Garnett’s man, and Ray Allen’s man. Rondo goes up and takes the contact, but in a split second, kicks the ball out to Ray Allen with bodies all around him. He threw the no look pass to the perfect spot where Ray could catch and shoot.
He shoots poorly from long range due to his large hands as you all can see. Rondo still shoots about 57 to 55 percent from the free throw line. He rarely takes three point shots, and shoots okay from midrange. For a guard, however, you’d want to see some improvement. That career 11 points could go way up if he had a jumper or if he was willing to slash more often; with that being said, he can still score the ball somehow. Rondo is one of the most crafty slashers with the ball that you’ll ever see. I know we’ve all seen his ball fake on NBA 2k where he shows the ball one way and goes the other. He’ll pass out of that or lay it up. He uses his pass fakes to get himself open looks and has a plethora of hesitation moves. Those get him points, even without a jumper.
As a defender and a rebounder, Rondo is among the elite of guards. He rebounds better than some big men. He rebounded 8.7 percent of his teams possible rebounds last season, and also allowed 106 points per 100 possessions. That’s a pretty astonishing number for a guard. Between he and Russell Westbrook, they are the best rebounding guards in the NBA. At 6’1 and not 6’5, that’s pretty phenomenal. Rondo has amazingly long arms and huge hands that allow him to do some things that big men do. He rebounds better for his size and position.
At the end of the day, Rondo is one of the top point guards in the league with no jump shot. It’s below average, lets all admit it. But he still finds a way to get it done night in and night out. Call it what you want to. Some say he’s overrated, some say he’s underrated, some say he can’t do it without the big three. I think that Rondo is one of the best in the game. I’ll just call him “unique”.