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Rondo-Paul Incident Sets Stage for Budding Rivalry

The NBA has decided not to discipline Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul following multiple incidents which occurred between the two players during the Celtics’ 97-87 win over the New Orleans Hornets last Sunday evening.  Both point guards were hit with technical fouls following a verbal spat which took place in the second quarter of the game.  The jawing between the two players continued near the Celtics bench even after the game was over, and a third encounter was prevented when coaches stopped Paul from attempting to enter the Boston locker room after the teams had exited the court.

Both head coaches downplayed the incident when addressing the media.

“I don’t expect anything to come of it,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.

“I think there comes a point in time in a game or even after a game when somebody says something to you,” said Hornet’s coach Byron Scott, whose team is off to a disappointing 2-3 start.

Now that the dust from the Paul-Rondo incident is finally beginning to settle, the details are coming into focus.  What I have gathered from the altercation is that Chris Paul was unable to maintain his composure after being enticed by Rondo.  The Celtics point guard was reported to have told Paul, “I’ve got a ring, and you’re never gonna win one.”  He was also quoted as saying that Paul’s “frustration dripped with envy.” Sounds like a budding rivalry to me.

Although a high-profile player and team leader like Paul should be held to a higher standard of conduct, it’s easy to see where his frustration came from.  Like Rondo, Paul is extremely competitive, and as I mentioned earlier, the Hornets are off to a surprisingly slow start.  To add insult to injury, Boston has now defeated New Orleans in four straight meetings.  The second chapter of the Paul-Rondo saga is scheduled to take place Feb. 10, when the Celtics travel to the “Big Easy.”

In the meantime, I’d like to try to answer a few interesting questions the budding Paul-Rondo rivalry has conjured up.

Has Rondo pushed himself into the upper tier of point guards in the NBA?

As we all know, Chris Paul has been unanimously dubbed one of, if not THE elite point guard in the NBA.  The fourth-year pro has dazzled fans and demoralized opponents with his spectacular passing and career 19.6 points per game average.  But, how does the Celtic’s young point guard stack up?

In my opinion, Rondo has without question moved himself into the upper tier of point guards in the NBA.  With one less year of experience than Paul, Rondo has already helped lead his team to a championship.  Something the likes of Baron Davis, Derron Williams, Gilbert Arenas, Steve Nash, and Jason Kidd have all failed to accomplish.  Rondo may not have the point production of Paul, Williams, Arenas, and Nash, but he defends, rebounds, and passes the ball just as effectively as all of them.  Six games into the 2009/2010 season, he ranks fifth among active point guards in rebounds per game, and second in assists per game.

Additionally, Rondo’s ridiculous wingspan makes him a match-up nightmare for guards his size, and also allows him to create turnovers and finish at the basket with ease.  For Rondo the sky is the limit, and I believe he will continue to blossom this season and in years to come as he works on improving his jump shot to complement the rest of his game.

I think Rondo officially pushed himself into the upper tier of NBA point guards with his outstanding performances in the playoffs last year.  Without All-Star teammate Kevin Garnett, Rondo put the Celtics on his back at times, recording three triple-doubles in series against the Bulls and Magic, tying him with the legendary Larry Bird for the franchise record.

Who would win one-on-one, Chris Paul or Rajon Rondo?

We’ve all tried to answer the hypothetical question of who would win in a one-on-one game between Lebron James and Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Larry Bird, etc.  What about a one-on-one game between Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo?

Many will be surprised to hear that I favor Rondo in this matchup.  The main reason being his 6 ft. 10 wing-span, which would allow him to counter Paul’s superior outside game, create second chance opportunities, and score inside with effectiveness.  Both are great dribblers and are tremendously quick, and for these reasons I think the game could go either way. But, I can say with certainty that based on what we’ve seen when these two get together, the game would definitely end in a brawl, regardless of the winner.

Which point guard is the better player?

At this point in their respective careers, I give Chris Paul a slight edge. Paul certainly has more individual accomplishments. The Hornets team captain has played in two All-Star games, won a Gold Medal in the 2008 Olympics, and was selected as the 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year, not to mention making the First Team All-NBA Team in 2008, and the First Team All-NBA Defensive Team in 2009. Paul also has a far weaker supporting cast.

Although Rondo hasn’t achieved the individual recognition that Paul has, he has an NBA Championship ring, something Paul would probably trade all of the individual accolades for.

Which player is a better fit for the Celtics?

I think that Rondo is a better fit for the Celtics because he looks to dish the ball before he looks to score.  The Celtics already have guys like Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett who are asked to provide the scoring.  Rondo’s role is to look to get the scorers open looks, create turnovers, and play tough defense, all of which he does tremendously well.

The Hornets, on the other hand, rely on Paul to provide the bulk of their scoring.  This is a big reason why he’s averaging nearly 30 PPG this season.  Paul doesn’t have Rondo’s supporting cast, and often looks to create scoring chances for himself before looking to pass the ball.  While perhaps being just as quick as Rondo, he doesn’t possess his speed, making him a better fit for a half-court offense rather than an offense like the Celtics, which is designed to push the ball and create fast-break opportunities.

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One comment for “Rondo-Paul Incident Sets Stage for Budding Rivalry”

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