Rajon Rondo has been nominated for Best NBA Player in the upcoming ESPY Awards. Also receiving the nomination: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and Tony Parker. In 53 games this past season, Rondo averaged 11.9 PPG, 11.7 APG, 4.8 RPG, 1.8 STLPG, and had a .448% from the field. While these are solid numbers, the question as to whether Rondo belongs in the same category with these other guys is going to be a topic of discussion.
Now the tricky part. Do you select the “Best NBA Player” solely on stats? What other factors could and should be taken into consideration? Is this just a popularity contest? Jersey Sales? Which player wore the coolest post-game press conference outfit? How many NBA Memes the player showed up on? Here’s my take:
I’m going to begin with the easiest to eliminate out of the group. Rajon will receive a BYE to the final round because…well, this is my game and I can do whatever the hell I want. Tony Parker, while playing some inspiring basketball for the Spurs this season/post season, your contribution as a point guard does not surpass your fellow position mate in this competition. Kevin Love, I really like how you play the game and when I see a 20-20 in the box score I always get pumped and wish you played in Boston. However, the fact of the matter is that you can not be in consideration to be the NBA’s Best Player and not make the playoffs. This is where it gets tough. Kobe Bryant, as it pains me to give you any form of praise, you have had your reign on top of the NBA. This past season demonstrated a superstar clawing like Mufasa not to fall off the ledge and let his evil brother take control of what was rightfully his. Criticism of selfish play throughout the regular season and an early playoff exit leave you out of consideration for this award. And now, the match up that had been over hyped for the entire duration of the NBA Finals: Durant vs. LeBron. For this, I want to point out the increases (or lack thereof) production from the regular season to the playoffs. This is how you fortify your reputation in the NBA. When the playoffs role around, with all eyes watching, great players elevate their performance to another level. LeBron saw increases in PPG and RPG, while his assist numbers dropped a little bit. In his defense (God, I can’t believe I’m defending LeBron), he did what was necessary to will his team to victory night in and night out. This most of the time meant “give me the ball and get the fuck out of my way.” Durant on the other hand saw miniscule increases in PPG and APG, while his rebound numbers went down. I believe this is a case of experience on the big stage. Realizing what you need to do to get your team the W if you’re going to be considered “The Man” is the next step for him. LeBron put all of those “who’s better: KD or LBJ?” arguments to bed in the finals. Durant showed that the criticism he received about not being big enough really mattered. I mean, they were playing Harden on LBJ when he went to the post. I could sit here all morning and point out different things to compare about these two guys, but the nod goes to LBJ. It’s his time.
With that being said, is it truly fair to put the 3x MVP up against Rajon Rondo? Do not misinterpret what I’m saying here. I am THE epitome of a Rondo fan. Rajon is my favorite player in the league. His numbers do not hold a candle to the impact he has on an individual game. The way Rondo elevates his game to another level when the post season rolls around is one of the the things that we’ll be talking about after he retires. A fierce competitor, never afraid, never backs down. Some flaws in his game, sure-he’s not perfect. But show me a guy in the league who better demonstrates what a point guard is all about. There is no doubt Rondo is a great player, an all-time player, but at this moment in his career should he be considered with the likes of an LBJ or KD35? There are many other players who were left off of that nomination list you could make a winning argument for. What makes Rondo deserving of this nomination?
And there it is friends. Some faith (I said some, not all) has been restored into the NBA. Players like Rondo, Parker, and Love are more often times than not overlooked by there superstar counterparts. The Melo’s, Chris Paul’s, Blake Griffin’s, Derrick Rose’s, etc. This is what leads me to believe that this award could be based on something other than stats. It might very well be a popularity contest and I could have just wasted a shit ton of time looking up stats and writing this piece. But, I have the faith. Which is why I am continuing to peck away at my keyboard. Rondo deserves to be in the discussion. This guy deserves to be in the MVP talks at the end of the year.Deserves it. Rondo can turn Brandon Bass into an All-Star, okay? If Chris Paul could do it to David West on NOLA, there is no doubt in my mind he could do it to Bass. Why is this a valid argument you might be asking? When more shots are available, Bass will get his. He’ll get his wide open looks and two hand slams from beautiful dishes from Rondo. He’ll average 20 and 8 and somehow sneak in to an all star game because Bosh is hurt. This is like a straight A student letting an D+ student copy off their homework throughout high school (I’m qualified to make this comparison, ask Kyle). This is what sets Rondo apart from other guys in the league. His intelligence. He makes the guys around him better. That statement is way overused in today’s game, by the way. Rondo truly makes guys better. And this is an extremely valuable asset to any basketball team. I would even go as far as saying it could be the most valuable asset to any basketball team. There are only three (3)…1, 2, 3, players who come to mind when I think of players who make their teams better. LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Rajon Rondo. Not to say there aren’t guys out there who help their teams in an extraordinary way, but these guys are on a different level.