Is Rajon Rondo Capable of Leading Boston Celtics to a Championship?

Matthew SchmidtFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2013

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 14: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics throws the in bound pass against the Charlotte Bobcats during the game on January 14, 2013 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Many people question Rajon Rondo. They say he is a hothead. They say he is inconsistent. They say he is enigmatic.

And you know what? All of those things are true.

After all, this is a guy who has twice been suspended for making contact with officials in Atlanta over the past eight months (although the second suspension, which can be seen in the video below, seemed a bit questionable) and who has been deemed stubborn and moody by his own coach. This is also someone who seems to only bring out his absolute best on a big stage.

But let's be serious.

Rondo is unquestionably one of the best players this league has to offer.

In what some are considering a "down" year for the the recently announced All-Star point guard, Rondo is still averaging 13 points, 11.2 assists, and 5.1 rebounds per game. And do you want to hear something funny? Rondo, the guy who many say can't shoot, is hitting on 49 percent of his shot attempts from 16-to-23 feet out. Just for some perspective, that is the same percentage as Chris Paul, and only three players with a minimum of 30 minutes a contest are shooting better from that range.

Rondo also has 10 career playoff triple-doubles. Only Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd have more, and there is a very good chance Rondo surpasses the latter this year. Why? Because Kidd only has one more postseason triple-double than Rajon.

The point? With Rondo, you take the good with the bad, and that good certainly seems like enough to lead the Boston Celtics to a championship.

The thing is, this might really be a moot discussion to begin with. Everyone is wondering whether or not the Kentucky product has what it takes to lead the Celtics to an 18th banner when he really doesn't have to.

You can say whatever you want, but this is not Rondo's team. No. This is Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce's team. Many will say that Rondo is the most vital player on Boston's roster and that the C's will only go as far as he takes them, but that is just not true.

Is Rondo an integral piece? Of course, but is he the actual leader of the ballclub? No.

We are not going to know for sure whether or not Rondo can be "the guy" until K.G. and Pierce retire. Right now, we can only surmise that he will be able to based on his playoff track record and say that he is more than capable of being the point guard who helps lead this team to a title this year.

Don't take that the wrong way, however. That is in no way downplaying Rondo's ability to take over in big games and put the team on his back.

Was it not just this past postseason when he exploded in the closing minutes of Game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers, draining two long jumpers (one of them a three-pointer) as the shot clock was about to expire to effectively end the series? And was it not during that same playoff run that he dropped 44 points off 16-of-24 shooting in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat?

Rondo has proven that he has the wherewithal do it. He just doesn't have to at this stage of his career.

As stated earlier, we can only speculate on this subject, as Rondo has never had the opportunity to really take his squad by the reigns. Still, regardless of the fact that he may be somewhat of a headcase, his résumé of playoff success speaks for itself.

Rondo is a guy who can certainly be counted on in big spots. Just look at the 2008 NBA Finals for example.

That was only Rajon's second season, and in the deciding Game 6, the then 22-year-old put up a stat line of 21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals. It was then that you knew the Celtics had something special, and ever since that night on June 17, 2008, Rondo has been a model of postseason excellence.

Remember earlier when it was mentioned that Doc Rivers called Rondo "stubborn" and "moody?" Well, he also called him a "genius" in that same sentence.

When Garnett and Pierce decide to hang it up, the C's will likely be in good hands with Rajon Rondo.