Point guard is the most polarizing position in all of basketball. There are so many molds of point guards and so many ways to quantify the position that it’s almost impossible to form a universal consensus on any one player. That’s why it usually leads to such a massive debate when a team is trying to decide on a point guard, whether it’s bringing in a new player or choosing a starter from the existing roster.
For GMs around the NBA who are looking to bring in a new point guard over the next couple seasons, one of the potential debates is going to surround Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo. Neither player is a free agent, but Paul’s contract will be up at the end of the 2012-13 season. Rondo is scheduled to make $36 million before his contract expires at the end of 2015, and he will almost certainly be on the trading block if Boston decides to blow up its core this year. The question remains, though: For a GM looking to bring in a superstar point guard, who is the best option?
On one hand, Rajon Rondo looks like a great solution. He has exceptional court vision and is a solid all-around player, frequently posting double-doubles and triple-doubles. He also has the experience that NBA GMs crave: Plenty of experience as a starter in the Finals, and even more experience in deep playoff runs playing with a group of future Hall of Famers. He’d be the perfect addition to a team like the Knicks, who have plenty of talent but struggle with chemistry. By comparison, Chris Paul’s biggest accomplishment is playing in the Western Conference Finals. While he led the Clippers to the second round of the playoffs before getting knocked off by the Spurs, it’s difficult to assess the impact he really had on a young team that looked like it was going to develop with or without him.
There are downsides to Rondo, though, and where Rondo comes up short is generally where CP3 shines. Rondo has a glaring inability to knock down jumpers, shooting under 25 percent from three-point range. His field goal percentage of 45 is just shy of Chris Paul’s 48, but Rondo’s numbers are heavily padded with points in transition and assisted layups where he’s freed himself up from his man off-ball. His inability to be a consistent shooting threat is multiplied by the fact that he shoots less than 60 percent from the free throw line, making it easy for opponents to play him tight late in games. For comparison’s sake, Chris Paul shoots 86 percent from the stripe, and it helps him to be the clutch player that he is.
In the end, statistics further help to sway the argument in favor of Chris Paul. Paul takes better care of the ball, averaging just 2.1 turnovers per game compared to Rondo’s 3.6. He also has more steals per game, and his PER of 27.09 is the best among all qualifying point guards, with Rondo’s PER coming to just 17.55 during last season.
Paul also seems to lack the character issues that have plagued Rondo. Boston was hesitant to give him an extension several years ago, and his mercurial attitude and frosty relationship with Ray Allen seem to have run the former Celtic out-of-town. Rajon Rondo is an incredible point guard and easily one of the top five in the league, but the fact is that with all things being held equal, no GM in his right mind would take Paul over Rondo.
About the Author: Tomas Shapiro likes sports so much, he chooses to write about it in his free time. If that’s not crazy enough, he sleeps with ESPN on at night to keep his brain wired to sports. Tomas recommends FansEdge for Celtics gear and LA Clippers apparel for all you Rondo and CP3 fans out there.