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Rajon Rondo: An All-Star?

Rajon Rondo (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

On Thursday, the NBA will announce its 2010 All-Star starting rosters, and barring a last minute Matthew Broderick “War Games” computer hack, Celtics’ point guard Rajon Rondo will not be named.

As of Jan. 7, the NBA’s final update on voting, your starting Eastern Conference guards are Dwyane Wade and… wait for it… Allen Iverson. Let’s hear it for fan voting everyone!

Rondo didn’t sniff the starting lineup, ranking a distant eighth among Eastern guards behind Vince Carter, Ray Allen, Gilbert “Arsenal” Arenas, Derrick Rose, and Joe Johnson.

But all is not lost. The remaining spots on All-Star rosters, voted on by head coaches in each conference, will be announced on Thursday, Jan. 28. Will Rondo be chosen? Given his performance this season, it’s merited. However, the holes in Rondo’s game and the overall perception of him in the NBA (in a word: poor) make his selection anything but a shoe-in.

Why Coaches Will Vote Yes

Rondo’s stat sheet speaks for itself:

13.8 PPG, 9.7 APG, 4.0 RPG, 2.5 SPG

The Boston floor general averages a near double-double, is third in the league in assists (1st in the East), and leads the NBA in thefts per game. He’s an impact player on both ends of the floor and his impressive .528 shooting percentage puts him among the top three guards in the NBA.

Beyond the numbers, Rondo also possesses the type of raw ability and athleticism that leaves an indelible impression. He carves defenses like Iron Chef Morimoto carves a rare ingredient, dishing and finishing with balletic skill.

And on those nights when everything comes together for the third-year point guard, he becomes what Hubie Brown calls a “special player.” Most recently, on Jan. 10 gainst Toronto, everything came together. Raptor guards appeared destined for the D-League as they tried to keep up with Rondo, who finished with a triple-double on 22 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds (with four steals for good measure). After witnessing that performance, how could Raptor coach Jay Triano not vote for Rondo?

Tangent: Listening to Hubie Brown is a treat. In my book, he’s one of the best color guys covering the NBA; I’d just rather not see him. Ever. Brown is beginning to look too much like the evil preacher from “Poltergeist II,” a character that traumatized me as a child.

Why Coaches Will Vote No

As much as the “big” stats indicate Rondo is an All-Star point guard, you can’t help but notice a few other stats that indicate there are glaring holes in his game.

Sure, Rondo is shooting an impressive .528% from the floor, but his three-point shooting is a dismal .189%, and he shoots free throws at .584%—positively Shaq-like.

The terrible free throw and three-point stats inevitably lead to a closer inspection of Rondo’s impressive overall shooting percentage. How can a guard who can’t shoot threes or free-throws shoot .528% from the floor? Unfortunately, the closer inspection of the stats leads to an indisputable conclusion: Rondo can’t shoot. On jump shots more than 15 feet from the basket, Rondo is shooting 32%. He hasn’t been that bad since his 27% rookie season.

True, Rondo can dazzle with his speed and Rubber Man ability to get to the rim, but his inability to shoot jumpers stands out to opposing coaches. Teams regularly give Rondo anything in medium range, and it’s downright awkward to watch him dribble around in front of his slacking defender, unsure whether or not to pull up for the open J. In those cases, Rondo simply doesn’t look like an All-Star caliber player; he looks more like Leonardo DeCaprio in “The Basketball Diaries.”

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to Rondo being voted an All-Star is the perception of him as a player around the league. After judo chopping Brad Miller and shoving/elbowing Kirk Hinrich in the playoffs last season and starting a fight with NBA-darling Chris Paul in November, Rondo has firmly established himself as a villain around the league. Opposing players and fans simply don’t like him, and it’s likely a handful of opposing coaches feel the same.

Final Verdict

Yes, I do think Rondo will make it to Dallas on the coaches’ vote. The Eastern Conference team is in need of true point guards, and it’s likely Derrick Rose and Rondo will make the cut.

Tangent: Two words on why the NBA needs to overhaul its All-Star voting process: Tracy McGrady. The in-limbo Houston guard ranks second among Western Conference guards to Kobe Bryant, and ahead of Steve Nash, Chris Paul, and seven other players actually playing in the NBA right now.

Fun Fact: The first NBA All-Star game was played in the Boston Garden in 1951, and Celtic Ed Macauley was named the first All-Star MVP. Macauley, whose 22 hangs from the Garden rafters, was part of the trade that brought legend Bill Russell to Boston.

About Sharkey

I was 11 years old when the ball scooted through Buckner's wickets, a moment that is laser-etched in my mind: In my living room, on the floor in front of the TV, ready to burst as the Sox needed just one more out, one more strike, to become World Series champs. Mets players sat with slumped shoulders and dejected looks in the dugout. Even the scoreboard operator recognized the game, and the series, was over, posting on the jumbotron: Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox, 1986 World Series Champions. "They did it!" I said, unable to contain myself. "The Sox won it all!" My father, sitting behind me on the couch with a furrowed brow, knew better. "It's not over yet." And so it was. Having watched the Sox, Celts, and Pats for the past three decades, I truly feel like I've seen it all. I hope to bring that type of perspective as I write about the three teams I love.

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