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To Rajon, on His 26th Birthday

 

Rajon Rondo turns 26 tomorrow. He will be celebrating at home because he threw a basketball at somebody at work. Probably just a small gathering of friends for some burgers at Bartley’s, followed by drinks and Rock Band back at his place. Kevin Garnett rolls in after the game to crush some Faith No More on vocals, Bryan Doo sips a Bud Platinum in the corner. Just a solid night with buds.

You could arbitrarily call his 26th birthday the last day of Rondo’s superstar window. it’s true that most players, by that age, demonstrate all the essential skills they’ll have for the rest of their careers. You could also say Rondo has one or two years left to fully develop into a superstar, or you could say that window closed two years ago. There’s no way to be wrong in this discussion.

Still, to inform it, we have the 2011-2012 Basketball Prospectus (buy it), which compared Rondo to the four NBA players he most resembles statistically at his age. They do this for every player (I mentioned it last year in a post on Shaq). Ray Allen at 36 is closest to Reggie Miller and Chris Mullin, KG compares to Hakeem and Mullin, Sasha = Royal Ivey, etc.

So here are the players Rajon Rondo is most similar to, in order:

  • Gary Grant
  • Jamaal Tinsley
  • Brevin Knight
  • Eric Murdock

A regular Murderer’s Row! In that they make you want to murder someone.

They’re all scoring point guards, but some of the comparisons don’t seem to be perfect fits: Jamaal Tinsley could shoot threes and didn’t put up anything close to Rondo’s assist numbers. Still, his steal percentages are pretty close to Rondo’s, and neither was a great free-throw shooter. Brevin Knight had basically fallen off by age 25, but the year before, when he was splitting time in Cleveland with Andre Miller, he came closer than any of these players to Rondo’s assist rate and put up decent scoring numbers while being a terrible shooter.

Gary Grant, though, actually lines up pretty well. I admit to not being able to bring up Grant’s career numbers from memory, but looking through his stat sheet: at age 25, Grant put up about 10 points and 10 assists a game, even though he couldn’t shoot threes (23%) or free throws (68%). He wasn’t the rebounder or passer that Rondo was, but their fundamental numbers are pretty similar.

But Gary Grant, today, is not well known. Sadly, most of Rondo’s matches had their best years at either 25 or 26. That’s actually what compares these four players most closely: their careers all started strong, then gradually declined as they bounced around the league and earned less and less playing time with each stop. Brevin Knight is the exception; he had a late-career resurgence with Charlotte at age 30. But none of the others really played basketball past 32.

Rondo’s better at basketball than Eric Murdock on his best day, and half the story behind these matches is that there hasn’t been a player exactly like Rondo before. That’s what makes projecting his career impossible: nobody’s been quite so good at some things while being quite so bad at others, so we can’t really be sure if he’ll get better or worse. The only real take-home from this is that Rondo is a special, unprecedented player. Happy birthday, Rajon!

  • ripsonics

    Happy B-day Rondo! Hopefully you'll get a new jersey this year!

    hah….

  • Batman

    So…Joe Johnson's all star spot is open

    • http://twitter.com/michaeljavid @michaeljavid

      Hey Batman whatever happen to Rojan? I think it's time to dust off that name and get it back into action.

      • Batman

        Yeah he's certainly been playing like a Rojan some games this year
        Guess when he has a bad game I'll call him that

  • High Rollers

    Jeez, Rondo… Hayes has you one foot in the basketball grave already. Meanwhile, the sky is still your ceiling. Keep aspiring and happy birthday to the 26 yr old.

  • phreesh

    Those are really surprising comps. When I think of players somewhat like Rondo, my mind turns to great playmaking PGs like Stockton or Mark Jackson, not… those guys. Any all-star appearances from those guys?

    He really is a unique player. What does he need to do to raise himself above this crowd of 'never-was' over the rest of his career?

    • High Rollers

      Keep ending up in the playoffs. Keep showing up in the playoffs. Pretty simple.

  • http://twitter.com/KIDPRINCE22 @KIDPRINCE22

    For Rondo birthday present Ainge should trade Pietrus & Pavlovic to Milwaukee for S.Jackson and J.Leuer and waived Center J.O`Neal.Ainge should sign E.House and J.Posey for 1 year by today. On Rondo birthday Ainge should trade Bradley,Moore, & 2nd round pick to Minnesota for JJ Barea. During All-Star Weekend Ainge should trade Dooling and Daniels to Phoenix for S.Brown. In March Ainge should make a 3 team trade with the Wizards and Rockets for Center J.McGee. Wizards Thabeet and Johnson and Rockets get Wilcox and Mack. With these new players the C`s can come out the East.

    • Batman

      You're a genius
      Please become our GM

      • CG12

        Holy moly – out of morbid curiosity, I followed the Twitter link to The Kid's page. Apparently all he does, all day long, on multiple social media platforms, is think about and propose ridiculous and pointless Celtics trades. It's a good living if you can get it.

        • CelticsBIG3

          I saw that he posted another ridiculous trade like this on Bostons WEEI Radio site. CG12 is not BSing, this dude literally goes from forum to forum posting these stupid trade ideas that always include a bunch of sh!theads and Thabeet.

          DUDE PLEASE STOP POSTING YOUR CRAP TRADE IDEAS

          • CelticsBIG3

            This dude is literally sending these stupid trades to Skip Bayless

            "DEVONTE GRAYSON@KIDPRINCE22
            @RealSkipBayless C`s need to trade Bradley,Moore, & 2nd round pick to Minnesota for JJ Barea and C`s should sign E.House & J.Posey."

            And Jess Camerato from CSNNE

            "DEVONTE GRAYSON@KIDPRINCE22
            @JCameratoNBA @thetruth34mvp Ainge should sign E.House & J.Posey by today for 1 year."

          • CelticsBIG3

            CG12, i wish you hadn't mentioned this dudes twitter, i'm mindblown. He bombs EVERYBODY!!! He hits up Stephen Jackson like 10x telling him to ask for trades to Boston, hits up Sherrod Blakely, Chris Broussard, Dwight Howard, Pierce, Rondo, Doc's son, hell ever Boston assistant Kevin Eastman. How do you have so much time on your hands?

          • ripsonics

            you have no friends. thats how.

          • noche

            And you're 12. No friends and 12.

    • Mark

      I don't know what's funnier, that you keep posting these horrible trade ideas on this site over and over again OR that you actually believe that any of these trades will turn the C's into instant contenders.

      Please, for the love of god, STOP with these stupid trade ideas.

      • dslack

        Just don't read or reply. It's not like he covers the board with spam. There's more space taken up replying to his ideas than his ideas themselves take up (and now I'm contributing to that space, myself….).

        • CelticsBIG3

          I hear that… I was just mind blown by his twitter page. good god

    • ripsonics

      Yeah… a couple days ago a lot (everyone) wrote about not posting stupid trades anymore…

      looks like you didn't get the memo – unless this is purely for comic relief, then i mean.. you're pretty funny.

  • darthdoogh

    Dear Hayes, as Mark told up here ppppleeeease (ppppleeeeease as Roger Rabit says) STOP these NONESENSE STUPID TRADE IDEAS. There's no GOOD (remark GOOD) PG to sign with us instead Rondo unless we dismantle hole team (with no point as we did with Perk…). I want banner 18 as bad as you want but use you brain and realize that this year is a strange…. (no other word came to my mind…) season and we knew our problems (BIG MAN INSIDE-REBOUNDS-POST GAME) and we didn't solve it. So let survive regular season and get a 6 or 7 seed and make all the efforts in a playoff game and you'll never now what a vet team can get under pressure.

  • ripsonics

    Greg Payne who writes for ESPN Boston is suggesting Rondo and JO for Williams . Salaries match up.. among other things.

    Its interesting to read and kind of cool to think about. Never rule out the ability of DA.

    here's the link: http://espn.go.com/boston/nba/story/_/id/7598767/

    • dslack

      Isn't that Peter May, not Greg Payne?

      • ripsonics

        yep. my bad – Peter May, not GP

    • mmTOS

      Why do we trade Rondo to rent Deron WIlliams… He is going into free agency after this season by opting out of his contract. He wants to play in Dallas and Dallas has the ability to get him.

      Why in the world would we do this? Makes no sense at all.

      • ripsonics

        well mmTOS..

        if you read the article.. the trade would be contingent on D-Will signing an extension. That way he would be guaranteed to stay for a while. With D-Will, you can make a strong case for Howard because D-will is a player that Howard wants to play with. I promise that if you read the article, it will make sense.

  • Chris from Danvers

    WOW….what is going on here.

    First of all, Rajon was considered an MVP candidate at the beginning of last season. He has single handedly won games in the playoffs. And, he beat Bob Cousy's season assist record….not sure how you can compare Rondo with any of the four players mentioned above….that is like comparing Pierce with Vince Carter, which, on the surface, you might be able to do.

    Second, I thought all of these Thabeet rumors had disappeared from this site. How in the world do they end up back here? And why in the world would that be a good trade. As Shaggy would say, Zoinks.

    Finally, as for Peter May's column, not a bad idea….but I think I'd still rather keep Rondo. He has more upside.

    • -jp

      The Deron for Rondo trade is interesting, but I don't see it ever really being possible, NJ can probably do better.

    • http://twitter.com/michaeljavid @michaeljavid

      There are no Thabeet rumors. Just an idiot with a keyboard and a mouse

  • -jp

    I think its safe to say there is no one, no one, like Rondo. I heard a podcast with Bob Ryan, who has been following basketball forever and he stated the same thing. Rondo brings so much to the table and is so fun to watch, but takes a lot off the table as well (moodiness, free throw shooting, three point shooting). Either way, happy birthday!

  • CG12

    The comparisons are interesting, but definitely fall short. I don't remember Grant well, but I do remember the other guys, and none of them were that much like Rondo. Tinsley was (and is – he moved up from the DLeague earlier this year) more of a crafty guy. Sweet handle, terrible attitude. And not much of a shooter. Knight was a solid all-around point guard. Murdock was definitely more of a scorer. Rondo brings things that none of those guys had, though, so I don't think that the comparisons have any predictive value at all. Rajon is unique.

  • Tos

    Okay, if that were to occur, then yes, I’d say it makes perfect sense. But, I just don’t see it happening.

  • green-boner
  • Karpfen

    I thought I read that Rondo was traveling with the team to attend a birthday party in OKC, thrown by Perk. Anyway, Happy Birthday to him.

  • aluísio

    happy birthday 9

  • hdavenport

    Just found out Rondo was born the day after the first Zelda game came out.

    • janos

      Hi Haynes, is Janos
      I am so excite for Rondos birthday!! can you do a change on celticsub logo show #9? I tell a few peoples birthday but few seem care. i think better come home go celticshub talk rondos on nba birthday celtics

    • High Rollers

      Zelda. Best. Game. Ever.

  • Celticide

    Happy B-day to Rondo. Don't take $#!^ from anyone. One day you might get the call and people will realize Wade tossed you to ground and you still came back! Don't change your game, people appreciate your play as long as you keep going to the hoop.

  • High Rollers

    Rondo's in! Headed to Orlando with the Captain, Baby! Congrats, Rajon! Hope the guys get a win tonight and Boston can come back altogether on a positive note. Go C's!

    • skeeds

      Heeey! Just read about that!!! Great news! Although Josh Smith should be furious right now, and with good reason!!!

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