Is Rondo A Hall Of Famer

The question is as frustrating as the player himself: Is Rajon Rondo a Hall of Fame-caliber player?

Rondo has played in the NBA for seven years. He’s a four-time All-Star, a one-time champion, a one-time runner-up and a triple-double threat every night. With his gaudy stats and playoff resume, assuming he comes back from injury anywhere close to the same player, he should be a Hall of Fame lock.

The problem with that statement is that Rondo’s career stats aren’t nearly as gaudy as one would think, especially for a player supposedly so obsessed with his own stats:

Fine, but he’s only played in the league for seven years, and one of those years was cut short by the ACL tear.

So let’s double his stats, assuming he’s able to stay at or near his current level, with declining numbers at the end, for the next seven years.

That’s 10,502 points, 7,886 assists, 4,312 rebounds and 1,826 steals. The only noteworthy number there is the assists total, which would put him 10th all time if Andre Miller retired tomorrow. Still though, nothing too impressive.

Every single stat is lower than one would expect. He’s never averaged more than 13.7 points per game. That’s low, especially considering we live in the “Age of the Point Guard” and Tony Parker, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry are all averaging above or near 20 points per game.

Actually, not that impressive in a historical context. Here are some other great and not-so-great point guards and their career highs in assists per game for a season:

So Rondo is up there, but he certainly isn’t doing anything unprecedented. Even Mark Jackson and Andre Miller—never dominant and certainly not Hall of Fame-bound—were able to average around 11 assists per game for whole seasons.

Passing, though, is one of the most important aspects of the game of basketball. If Rondo continues demonstrating his mastery of it by averaging double figures in assists, that would make him one of the greats.

Mark Jackson is a good test case. Only John Stockton and Jason Kidd have more career assists than Jackson, who assisted on 10,334 buckets in his career. He, Kidd, Stockton, Steve Nash and Magic Johnson are the only members of the 10,000-assist club. He has more assists than Nash, Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Isiah Thomas, Gary Payton and Bob Cousy.

Yet he’s not in the Hall of Fame and he’s probably never going to be, because as important as passing is, the truly great players bring more to the game.

Fortunately, Rondo is a great rebound—oh. He’s averaged more than five rebounds per game only twice? What’s wrong with you, Rondo?

The fact is, Rondo’s per-game stats are not really Hall of Fame-caliber, nor are his career totals. This makes it tough, at this point in his career, to call him anything more than just a very good player.

But Rondo is not just a very good player. He is a great player. And here’s why.

That’s the whole statistical case for Rondo’s greatness right there. Rondo absolutely stuffs the stat sheet in the playoffs, and he does it in a way that helps his team win games (the Celtics won 54 playoff games and a title in five years with Rondo as the point guard). The great ones turn it on in the playoffs, and Rondo certainly does that.

If you’re building a title contender, do you want a point guard who puts up 12-5-10s in the regular season and then morphs into a triple-double machine in the playoffs? Yes. You do. Rondo has 10 career playoff triple-doubles by the way—tied with Larry Bird.

I’ll start with the “I’ll miss them when they’re gone” test that I just made up. Great players can just be really good at a lot of things, but the truly elite ones bring something new to the game. They play the game in a creative way that has never been done before and can never really be duplicated. They have their own signature style. And when they leave the game, we miss what they added to it.

(In my lifetime, no one got a better score on the “I’ll miss them when they’re gone” test than Brandon Roy. And yes, I saw MJ play.)

But out of the elite players currently in the NBA, I will not miss watching Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard or James Harden play. I will miss watching Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, LeBron James and Rajon Rondo.

Rondo brings his own indefinable stamp to a game. No one handles a ball quite like Rondo, no one sees the court quite like Rondo, no one passes like him, no one finishes like him and no one picks the perfect moment to hit an open jumper after missing 10 straight quite like him.

Rondo can take over a game at any time, and once he takes it over, there’s no doubt who’s in control—even if he doesn’t score. He can throw up an 11-7-10 with two steals and totally dominate a game.

Then there’s the “great moments” test. All great players need to have great moments, and enough great moments can elevate a good player to the level of a great one. And great moments usually come in the playoffs.

Reggie Miller put up good-but-not-great stats for his whole career besides his free-throw and three-point shooting. Yet he’s remembered as great because of the Spike Lee game, the eight points in 8.9 seconds game and the game-winner against the Bulls when he shoves Michael Jordan, sinks the shot and does that weird dance in the middle of the court.

For his part, Jordan probably had the most great moments of anybody, topped off by his Game 6 dagger against the Utah Jazz in ’98. LeBron James now has the game-winning three against Detroit, Game 6 against the Celtics in ’12, the triple-double in Game 5 against the Thunder, the Headband Game in Game 6 against the Spurs and the series-clinching shot in Game 7 that made it 92-88 with seconds left.

I’ll be missing some, but I’ll start with his entire series against the Bulls in 2009 (seriously, check out the box scores or watch the games), his 19-12-10 triple-double in Game 2 against the Lakers in the ’10 Finals to even the series, his triple-double and clutch threes in Game 7 against the 76ers in the ’12 playoffs and his 44-8-10 with three steals to keep the Celtics in Game 2 against the ’12 Heat (he scored all 12 of the Celtics’ points in overtime).

Then there’s Game 3 against the Miami Heat in the 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals. Rajon Rondo dislocated his left elbow, returned to the game and, playing with one arm, led the Celtics to victory.

It’s the Rondo moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life. With his left arm dangling uselessly at his side, Rondo played out the third and fourth quarters—igniting the Boston crowd and his teammates. In the fourth quarter, he stole the ball and took it all the way to the basket for a dunk—with one arm. The next possession, he drove to the hoop and scored over LeBron.

Rondo dribbled, passed, scored, defended and directed the offense with one arm while in excruciating pain.

That should have been Rondo’s Flu Game. Instead, everyone remembers him getting benched at the end of Game 4, and Boston’s eventual loss to the Heat in five games.

It doesn’t matter. Rondo’s Game 3 was one of the grittiest, most inspiring performances I’ve ever seen. As far as I’m concerned, he sealed his greatness right then. Everything after that is just gravy.

Yes, he has “attitude issues.” Rondo supposedly drove away Ray Allen and nearly came to blows with Doc Rivers, the ultimate players’ coach. The word is that Rondo cares more about stats than winning and only tries hard on national television. Right, Bill Simmons?

So what? You’re not going to convince me that Rondo is the first great player to have attitude issues.

Rondo belongs in the Hall of Fame. A couple more great seasons, a couple very good ones, a couple “veteran leadership” seasons to pad his counting stats and he should get there.

Rondo has topped the 41 minutes per game mark in each of the past four playoffs, with a career high 42.6 this season. And don’t forget the 53 minutes he played in Game 2 against Miami. Assuming Rondo stays healthy and keeps up the pace he’s set over the past five years, he’ll be a no-doubter come Hall of Fame time.

Compare His Resume

Perhaps Rondo’s best comparison is former 76ers guard Maurice Cheeks.

Cheeks played 14 seasons in the NBA for the Sixers as well as a few other teams at the end of his career.

His career totals include averaging 11.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per game.

He, like Rondo, was a four time All Star to go along with being a five time All Defense selection and winning one NBA Title with Philadelphia in 1983.

Rondo’s career totals are not far off of Cheeks’s averaging 10.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 8.3 assists.

Cheeks was selected to the All Defensive Team one more time than Rondo, but the former Celtics floor general led the league in assists three times and steals once, and he was also selected to an All NBA team in the 2011-2012 season.

Those are all things the Sixers point guard never accomplished. Oh yeah, and he also has one more title than Cheeks as well.

Both players were known to be pass and defense first point guards who struggled to shoot the ball from the outside.

If Cheeks was voted into the Hall of Fame, it is hard to not consider Rondo.

It’s a serious question that deserves serious consideration: Is Rajon Rondo a Hall of Famer? Perhaps a few years ago, the answer would have been no. But as his career has progressed, his skills more coveted and his ability to galvanize his teammates appreciated, Rondo is approaching consideration for the Hall.

He was named to the All-Defensive team four times and All-NBA once. He led the lead in steals in 2009-10 and is 57th all time in that category. He is fourth among active players in assists — behind Chris Paul, LeBron James, and Russell Westbrook — and he is 15th all time in assists.

Rondo was the baby of the bunch during those Big Three days but he has developed into a basketball sage that championship-caliber teams are seeking. He only shoots when necessary, rare in today’s NBA.

Luke Kornet has presented the Celtics with an interesting dilemma. He has played so well in his short stint the club may not need another center if one becomes available on the buyout market. The Celtics’ options for upgrading their roster are limited to buyout players and unemployed free agents. And there are two players who could attract considerable attention if they are bought out. Kelly Olynyk has flourished with the Houston Rockets, a team headed for the draft lottery. He has averaged 17.4 points and 41.7 percent 3-point shooting through his first seven games. He appeared to be a lock for a buyout but coach Stephen Silas has inserted Olynyk in the starting lineup and he’s playing 29 minutes per game. Olynyk is a free agent this summer. Another former Celtic, Avery Bradley, acquired in the deal that sent Victor Oladipo to the Miami Heat, is playing nearly 23 minutes per game off the bench for Houston. The Orlando Magic waived backup center Khem Birch so he could join the Toronto Raptors, which is a curious move because the Raptors appear a cinch for the draft lottery. Birch, a defensive-minded big man who can score around the rim, would have drawn interest from several teams had he elected not to sign in Toronto. The Magic held onto Otto Porter, although he has missed the past week with a foot injury. Porter would be a serious target of the Celtics, who could use another wing shooter. If that were to occur, the roster move likely wouldn’t be Kornet. The candidates would be Carsen Edwards or perhaps Moe Wagner. The Celtics could not swap Tremont Waters for a roster spot because he’s on a two-way contract, and only a two-way player could fill his slot. The Celtics have used Tacko Fall increasingly over the past few weeks to moderate success. It’s reached a point where the club would consider signing Fall to an NBA deal this summer … The NBA COVID-19 numbers are decreasing as the league revealed that one player tested positive since March 31 — likely the Celtics’ Evan Fournier — as the league attempts to complete the season. The NBA is trying to encourage players to take the vaccine —– but it’s not mandatory — by loosening the restrictions on the road for access and guests. The Celtics have been the hardest hit of any team in the NBA by COVID protocols.

And in 92 playoff games with the Celtics, Rondo averaged 14.5 points, 9.2 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals. He also played through a dislocated elbow sustained in the 2011 playoffs. His 44-point performance in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat in 2012 was perhaps the best game of his career.

The question may come off as ridiculous at first blush, but a precedent has already been established and multiple players with resumé’s approximating Rondo’s have eventually found their way to the corridors of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. Richie Geurin (six-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA) and Mitch Richmond (six-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA, one-time champion) are two such examples, and his career numbers — particularly when viewing them from a per 100 possession lense — aren’t too dissimilar from that of Paul Westphal or Mo Cheeks.

Rondo latched on with the Lakers in the summer of 2018 and has appeared in 94 regular-season games since, vacillating between being a shell of his former self and being completely cooked.

Rondo would likely not be inducted the first time his name appears on the ballot if he retired today. One could argue that his resumé is still missing something – another title, one more All-NBA selection, a couple more All-Star appearances – but, based on precedent, its still likely strong enough for his metallic bust to be placed in the Hall of Fame someday, even if it means that he supplants Richmond as the “This guy is in the Hall?” guy.

But, at the end of the day, Rondo’s pedestrian scoring numbers and lack of games played may be the biggest hurdles for him to climb in the eyes of voters. While Cheeks, much like Rondo, wasn’t a prolific scorer, he did appear in approximately 250 more regular-season games and all the other Hall of Famers mentioned above were best known for their offensive acumen and impact. Additionally, Rondo was never “the guy”; at best he was one of “the guy’s” younger brothers or one of his many sidekicks.

According to Basketball-Reference, Rondo has a 60.6 percent chance of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, a percentage that jumped nearly 20 points after the Lakers took home the 2019-20 title. Without a doubt, he’s an imperfect player with an imperfect track record, but the Basketball Hall of Fame — rightly or wrongly — doesn’t necessarily care about that.


Is Rondo an all time great?

Rondo is also the Celtics all-time leader in assists per game at 8.1. He may not be the best shooter from behind the arc, but Rondo is a career 48 percent shooter from the floor. He is a playmaker and an All-Star, and also one of the top defensive guards in the NBA. He is truly an all-around brilliant point guard.

Is Rondo better than Chris Paul?

In a nail-biter, Rondo takes the prize as the better point guard overall. Paul is still arguably one of the better five point guards in the league, but Rondo is the choice when taking into consideration the different facets of the game.

How much is Ray John Rondo worth?

In a nail-biter, Rondo takes the prize as the better point guard overall. Paul is still arguably one of the better five point guards in the league, but Rondo is the choice when taking into consideration the different facets of the game.

Has Rondo got a ring?

In a nail-biter, Rondo takes the prize as the better point guard overall. Paul is still arguably one of the better five point guards in the league, but Rondo is the choice when taking into consideration the different facets of the game.

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