Championship teams are built in multiple ways. They have different strengths and weaknesses, they have different types of talented players and different philosophies.
However, one thing that that seems to be consistent through the last 20+ years is that teams do not need an elite point guard to win. Sure, some teams have had good point guards. However, it has been a while since a point guard was the best player on a team. The Detroit Pistons have the two most recent NBA Finals MVP who played point guard: Chauncey Billups and Isiah Thomas.
Guys like Mario Chalmers, a 37 year old Jason Kidd, Derek Fisher, a young Rajon Rondo, Jason Williams, Tony Parker, Avery Johnson Ron Harper, and Kenny Smith have been the point guards for NBA Champs in the past 20 years.
This is not meant to say that these players had nothing to do with their team's success. Obviously, every team needs a trustworthy player that can manage an offense. In that list of point guards, however, each one had a player that was better than him on the team: Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Tim Duncan, and Hakeem Olajuwon.
So what does this mean for the Boston Celtics and Rajon Rondo? It means they have three choices. Use Rondo in a trade to get better. Use other assets to find a player (or players) better than Rondo to help make the team a contender. Or fly in the face of history and believe that a point guard that struggles to shoot the ball and score consistently can be the centerpiece of a championship team.
Yes, we know that this season and the following season is not going to bring the Celtics a championship. In the playoffs in 2011 it seemed like Rondo was slowly taking the reins of this team. He hit some huge shots after Paul Pierce fouled out of game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers. He had a monster series against the Miami Heat, but ultimately that team came up short because the Heat had the best player on the planet, LeBron James, playing for them.
It's arguable that the NBA is the toughest league to win a title. Only four active coaches have won a title: Rick Carlisle, Doc Rivers, Gregg Popovich, and Erik Spoelstra. Since 1983 only eight franchises have won an NBA Finals: Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, and Dallas Mavericks.
That's a staggering truth. Luckily, the Celtics are part of that fraternity. They have winning woven into the fabric of their franchise. Even with that history, the Celtics had a tough stretch in the 1990's with very little lottery pick luck. They had some talented players, but nothing that was transcendent enough to help them win.
Now, they find themselves with a collection of talented players. Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green, and Rajon Rondo are good players with All-Star potential going forward. However, is Rondo the right guy to have as the top banana on a championship team? He probably isn't unless the Celtics hit a run like the Detroit Pistons in 2004 when they had no real super-star on their team.
It's clear that a point guard is important to winning, but it might not be the most important thing. The Celtics need to make up their minds about Rajon Rondo and if they want him to be the man, or they want him to be the second banana.
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- Jordan Crawford Finding Early Success at Point Guard for the Boston Celtics
- Doc Rivers Discusses His Departure from Boston, Kevin Garnett, Rebuilding, His Future in LA, and Rajon Rondo’s Knee
- What Would It Look Like with Jeff Green Playing Shooting Guard
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