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Layups: Rondo’s D Gets Its Due

Posted by Neil Paine on October 8, 2009

Over at Celtics Hub, Zach Lowe has some thoughts on Rajon Rondo's high ranking in the NBA's annual GM poll:

"Has Rondo really progressed to the point that he should be considered one of the 10 best overall defensive players? Frankly, this seemed at first glance premature. Rondo is undoubtedly a good defensive player. He’s long, smart and annoying as hell on the ball. But he’s also a gambler, and we’ve seen him compromise our defensive structure going for those reach-around steals. [...] My naked-eye impression is that he is overrated as a screen/roll defender.

Of course, ranking players based on their defense is fraught with problems. The NBA is a team game, and different teams use different schemes. Some switch on screen-rolls; some don’t. Some help more aggressively than others. Trying to evaluate a single player outside of his team defensive scheme is a little like ripping a few pages out of a book and judging the author based on those pages.

That said, there are some metrics that at least attempt to measure a player’s defensive ability. I checked them all to see if Rajon really does deserve to be mentioned among the league’s elite defenders.

And you know what? We might be that point with him already."

We've been big Rondo backers for a while now, and the projections for this season see him as -- shocker alert! -- Boston's most valuable player (mainly for his defense) if Kevin Garnett loses a step after missing most of the 2nd half of last season due to injury. So it's nice to see that the league's top personnel evaluators are also starting to take note of Rondo's D as well.

8 Responses to “Layups: Rondo’s D Gets Its Due”

  1. Jason J Says:

    (Celtics Homer Disclaimer - I bleed green) I had Rondo as the best defensive guard in the league last year actually (well unless you consider Battier a guard, which I don't). He reminds me a lot of MJ without the size. He causes havoc but can also lock into a guy. The only real weakness is his size doesn't allow him much versatility. He's defending point guards, or he's in trouble. He did lead all guard is defensive win share last year.

  2. Mike G Says:

    "He reminds me a lot of MJ without the size.."
    Size, scoring ability, shotblocking, and turnover minimization?

  3. Mike G Says:

    And check out that great "Tiny URL" feature in the Full Court.

  4. Jason J Says:

    Nice tip, Mike. Thanks!

    I actually only meant to compare Rondo to MJ on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively they're worlds apart.

  5. JayOh Says:

    He might the best on the ball defending PG in the league. As far as an overall player, though, I find him to be overrated. His assist #s look to be somewhat inflated from playing with 3 future HOFers. His 64% from the line for his career is scary as well.

  6. mehmet Says:

    Dear Neil,

    I am just trying my chances,don't get mad at me :)

    I know you don't like Kobe but is it possible for you to make a nice reserved projection of statistical years if he had begun as a starter and had not gone through his infamous Colorado 'voyage'.

    I am guessing he could have been around 28-29.000 points.

    Really thanks!

  7. Neil Paine Says:

    Well, we do have what's called the Simple Projection System, which predicts production based on stats from the previous three years. It can't predict playing time, but if we peg Kobe for 80 games at 40 MPG, that's 3200 MP instead of the 2447 he actually played. The SPS would predict this performance from him, then:

    773 1671 80 231 516 613 116 507 427 142 53 249 231 2133 26.7 6.3 5.3 0.463 0.346 0.838

    By the way, how many times do I have to say that I like Kobe's game, and I think he's one of the greatest players of all-time? The only people I get upset with are the talking heads who say that he's the greatest, despite all evidence pointing to the contrary, because they have a pathological need for Kobe to be a clone of Michael Jordan. I never said I didn't like Kobe. I've always maintained that I think Kobe is a brilliant player. But this is another thing that's frustrating about his fans -- when you don't rank him as the greatest, you get labeled a "hater" for life. Only in their world does failing to bestow upon him top honors equate to "hating"... Never in a million years will I understand that mentality.

  8. mehmet Says:

    Thank you so much Neil!

    My bad wording though,sorry;actually I meant from 96-97 season as a starter through 97-98 and 98-99.Hıs cumulative numbers could have been very much different..

    Great site,keep up the excellent work!