Locked in an epic first-round series during the 2009 playoffs, Boston’s Rajon Rondo and Chicago’s Derrick Rose demonstrated on a grand stage why they will soon stake their claim alongside Chris Paul and Deron Williams as being among the NBA’s elite point guards.
Rose, who is a much more advanced scorer than Rondo was at the same stage of his career, struggled earlier in the season to find a balance between scoring and distributing the ball, but found his rhythm in seven playoff games versus the then-defending champion Celtics. He averaged 19.7 points and 6.4 assists while shooting 49.2 percent from the field and 80 percent at the line — narrowly outperforming Rondo as a scorer and shooter.
Rondo’s postseason performance was extraordinary. On the heels of a regular season in which he put up career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and field goal percentage, Rondo took his game to another level in the playoffs. In 14 total playoff games versus the Bulls and Magic, Rondo averaged 16.9 points, 9.8 rebounds, 9.7 assists, and 2.5 steals –- nearly joining Oscar Robertson and Jason Kidd as the only players in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire postseason.
Each seems destined for greatness. Rose is two years younger than Rondo, which should give him the edge. But Rondo is somewhat of a late bloomer after a bizarre two-year stint under Tubby Smith at Kentucky, a rookie season in which his minutes were senselessly yanked around, and a one-year apprenticeship in the shadows of the Big Three.
While you can’t go wrong with either player, RealGM executive editor Chris Reina and I exchanged several emails over the past six or seven months debating which player will emerge as the better point guard. I like Rondo. Reina prefers Rose. Below, we’ll tell you why.
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