True Hoops

True Hoops

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Performance Pick 'em

Rajon or Deron?

As March Madness descends upon us - many of us will inevitably have to make some tough choices pertaining to our favorite college course: Bracketology. However, this time of year also affords us a chance to make some interesting decisions in the pro ranks as well.

Last year at this time, we played Player Pick 'em in deciding/predicting who would have the better pro career between Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker (you can see Dr. JRS' pick and determine how that has panned out thus far).

This time around, let's use this opportunity to choose between two already established all-star point guards, who provided us with their very own version of Selection Sunday with their respective brilliant performances.

So, Which was better?
Rajon Rondo's masterpiece against the New York Knicks: 18 points, 17 rebounds, and 20 assists


Deron Williams offensive onslaught against the Charlottle Bobcats: 57 points

Let the debate begin:

The numbers game
Total points
   Rondo - 18 points + 20 assists (6 assists led to three point shots) = 64 total points
   Williams - 57 points + 7 assists (none for three pointers) = 71 points

Shooting percentage
   Rondo - 7/20 from the field (35%), 4/7 foul line (57%), no threes
   Williams - 16/29 from field (55%), 21/21 foul line (100%), 4/11 from three (36%)

Percentage of team points
   The Celtics finished with 115 points, with Rondo accounting for 56% of offense.
   The Nets finished with 104 points, with Williams accounting for 68% of the offense.

Assist to Turnover ratio
    Rondo had 4 TOs. With 20 assists, that's a 5:1 assist to Turnover ratio.
    Williams had 1 TO. With 7 assists, that's a 7:1 assist to turnover ratio.

Advantage: Williams
More total points, higher percentage of team's offense, and a far superior shooting percentage. However, even though lower than Williams, I wouldn't hesitate to say Rondo's assist to turnover ratio was more impressive. Furthermore, it's hard to give a value for rebounds as it pertains to team offense/points scored. Just as an aside - Williams had 6 rebounds.

The historical perspective
Williams' 57 points is the most scored in the NBA since Kobe dropped 61 on the Knicks back in '09. However, as far as 50 point games go, Kevin Durant scored 51 points last month.

On the other hand, Rondo is the first player to record a triple double with at least 17, 17, & 17 since Magic Johnson did it in 1989 (Magic finished with 24 points, 17 assist,  & 17 rebounds).

Advantage: Rondo

The clutch factor
Rondo scored 5 points to go along with 5 assists during the 4th quarter and overtime. He also had 8 rebounds during that time. But when push came to shove, Paul Pierce did the heavy lifting to get the Celtics into overtime.

Williams scored 18 points in the 4th quarter......with 1 assist (for your info, he had 40 in the second half). I'm gonna go ahead and say that's a lot of lifting.

Advantage: Slightly Williams
Yes you can say that Rondo's total points (22 points, two assists on three pointers) were more than Williams (20 points), but he had an extra 5 minutes to do it and he didn't assist on Pierce's game tying three at the end of regulation.

The competition
Both games were competitive and each performance was absolutely required to ensure their respective team's victory. But let's look a the context of each game:

The Nets beat the Bobcats 104-101.
In other words, we are talking about a team tied for the the third worst record in NBA (Nets, 12-26) beating a team with the worst record in the league (Bobcats, 4-31). Was the game even televised?

The Celtics beat the Knicks 115-111, in overtime.
Consider the fact that these two teams came in with similar records and are vying for not only playoff positioning but potentially the Atlantic division title as well. It also had to rub Boston the wrong way that despite dominating New York in recent years and having a better record, many analysts were saying the new-new(new?) look Knicks are a better team.

Also, Let's not over look the dynamics between Rondo and Jeremy Lin.
Here we have a three week veteran already mentioned with elite players and being hailed as the Knick's savior versus a guy that is a three-time all-star and NBA champion but continuously in the middle of trade rumors. Not to mention the fact that this game was in essence a homecoming for Lin, returning to Boston to play in front of his coach at harvard, Tommy Amaker

Can you say statement game???

Advantage: Overwhelmingly Rondo

The Headbands
Rondo = White
Williams =  Red

Rondo has been rocking his longer.
I'm just saying.

The verdict
A wise man once said, when it comes to scoring - "50 is 50."
And no doubt Williams 57 points is 57 points. Despite having 13 fewer assists, he still made up a higher percentage of his team's offensive production. Furthermore, his offensive efficiency is far superior. And don't sleep on the fact that he also had 7 assists and 6 rebounds (What if he had a triple double to go along with 57 points?!?) It's quite clear Williams is the better scorer and perhaps individual talent.

But...... Rondo's game truly was a rarity. 23 years since someone did what he did.
Forget the triple double, the numbers by themselves are impressive. 20 assists? 17 rebounds? Those 17 rebounds speak of the toughness and intangibles that Rondo provides for his team. And while we can't give rebounds a discrete value as it pertains to total points, who's to say they aren't valuable towards points scored? And when considering clutch, how important were his 8 rebounds in the 4th quarter and overtime towards deciding the game's final outcome?

But perhaps most impressive about Rondo's performance is the significance it served to both himself and his team. He stepped up to the plate on national television against a challenging opponent - individually and franchise wise - and went to work in every facet of the game - in historic proportions.

DR. JRS' pick: Rondo

These two performances not only display how deep with talent the point guard position is in the NBA (it may be the most competitive position), but also how diverse it is.

In fact, Rondo and Williams are a perfect representation of the variations at point.

Rondo is more of a traditional/pure point that best serves his team by setting up the offense, finding teammates in their proper positions, and makes others better by facilitating. Williams is more of a new school/scoring point that is powerful, a better scorer than passer, and perhaps puts his team in a better position to win by shooting. Think about this difference: Rondo scores mostly from defenses playing off him looking for the pass. Williams assists mostly from defenses looking to help on him when he drives/dribbles to score.

Rondo falls in line more so with Jason Kidd and Steve Nash (although Nash is a shooter). This is where Ricky Rubio belongs.

Williams falls more in line with Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. Younger guys would include Brandon Jennings, Stephen Curry, and John Wall. This is where Kyrie Irving belongs.

I would say Chris Paul is more in between - he can be a pure point and make his team better by facilitating, but many times it seems as if his team is better served when he is looking to score (I would almost but Nash in this category as well - just because he is one of the best shooters of all time).

Who is the best???
It depends on who you ask and what day of the week it is. ran a poll asking readers who they felt was the #1 point guard to start a team with.
As of completing this post, the numbers were:

Food for thought. Think about how many scoring point guards there are in the NBA. Now think about how many true point guards there are in the NBA - that truly make others better. Which is rarer? Who do you think more people would want to play with?

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