Rajon Rondo: Best Celtics PG of all-time?


Rajon Rondo: Best Celtics PG of all-time?

This week in the Philippines (Ive always wanted to start a post like that), Rajon Rondo told reporters that he hopes to end his career as the greatest point guard in the history of the Boston Celtics. And naturally, thanks to the boldness of his statement and the fact theres nothing else to talk about, the quote made waves back home.

So lets ask the question: Does Rondo really have a chance to become the greatest point guard in Celtics history?

I guess the first thing we need to do is once and for all declare that theres no right answer here. By even entertaining the question, were throwing ourselves down a subjective wormhole where absolute right and wrong dont exist. After all, what is great? Is it rings? If so, then the answer will always be Bob Cousy. Is it the opinion of other greats? If so, its hard to beat Dennis Johnson, who Larry Bird has always called, the best teammate I ever had. Is greatness defined by a low center of gravity? If so, meet John Bagley: The greatest point guard in Celtics history! (Hmm, or would it be Sherman Douglas?)

Anyway, one thing we can agree on is that in order to be considered the greatest in Celtics history, a player needs to have, at some point in his Boston career, been recognized as one of the best PGs in his conference. In other words, he needs to be an All-Star. So with that, we eliminate some fringe greatest point guard possibilities like Kenny Anderson, Milt Palacio and J.R. Bremer and are left with five candidates:

Rajon Rondo: Three-time All-Star
Dennis Johnson: One-time Celtics All-Star (Five total)
Tiny Archibald: Four-time Celtics All-Star (Five total)
Jo Jo White: Seven-time All-Star
Bob Cousy: 13-time All-Star

I think its also fair to say that the greatest point guard in Celtics history should play, or have played the majority of his career or at the very least, his prime in a Celtics uniform. That eliminates Archibald, a Hall of Famer and the last point guard to lead the NBA both scoring and assists, who didnt land in Boston until he was 30. As well as DJ, who played only seven of his 14 NBA seasons in green.

That leaves Cousy, Rondo and White. But shouldnt the best point guard in Celtics history also be a natural point guard? I think so, so with the ultimate respect for Jo Jo, were down to two: Rondo and Cousy.

Now obviously, if were talking right . . . NOW, then Cousy's the undisputed choice. He has six rings, which tops every Cs point guard other than K.C. Jones. He has more assists than anyone, and its not even close. Hes freaking Bob Cousy. Of course hes the best point guard in Celtics history.

But what will it take for Rondo to surpass him?

Again, this is all so subjective it hurts especially when you get into the lack of diversity in Cousy's NBA but considering that (short of LeBron, Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant retiring to start a boy band) theres no chance in hell that Rondo matches Cousys ring count, I think it will come down to this: Rondo needs to steal the Celtics all-time assists crown.

As it stands, Cousy's the leader with 6,945 assists. John Havlicek is second with 6,114 and Larry Bird is third with 5,695.

Rondo is seventh with 3,523, which leaves him 3,423 short of the top spot.

So, is that number attainable? You bet.

Factoring in last years shortened season, Rondos averaged 775 assists a year since making the leap in 2009, and lets be honest, hes showed no signs of slowing down.

At this rate, it will take Rondo only 4.42 seasons to surpass Cousy. That means he'll do it sometime around his 31st birthday, with at least a few years left to pad his all-time lead.

What happens if Rondo retires in eight or nine years with thousands of assists on Cousy? What happens if he's somehow able to add another ring to his collection? Sure, the old guard will always argue in favor of Cooz, but it wont be so easy. At the very least, we'll have some heated debate.

Now, this obviously would require Rondo signing an extension with the Cs at some point over the next three years, but I think that desire is implied in his original statement. If he wants to finish his career as the best point guard in Celtics history, then he needs to stay with the Celtics. Or more, he wants to stay with the Celtics.

And really, while all the subjective "greatest point guard" back and forth is fun especially in the midst of these off-season dog days the more important takeaway from Rondo's statement is this: He finally sounds comfortable and committed to being a long-term member of this team, and there's no doubt that's a direct result of finally feeling like the Celtics are finally committed to him.

It's just a shame that we still have another TWO months before seeing this newfound commitment play out on the court.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

The '86 Celtics Interviews podcast (Ep.8): Dan Shaughnessy


The '86 Celtics Interviews podcast (Ep.8): Dan Shaughnessy

Boston Globe columnist, and former Celtics beat writer, Dan Shaughnessy sits down with CSN for an extended discussion on "The '86 Celtics Interviews" podcast. Shaughnessy talks about the greatness of that team and the players' surprising reaction when they found out he was moving from the Celtics to the Red Sox beat.

Starter, bench or DNP: Zeller ready for any role with Celtics


Starter, bench or DNP: Zeller ready for any role with Celtics

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON – The NBA is a league full of highs and lows for players.

There are few who understand this as well as Tyler Zeller, a player who has gone from starting to being a backup to not playing at all – at times in the same week.

And through it all, you never heard him gripe about it publicly or privately to teammates.

It’s among the many reasons you constantly hear his teammates talk about how much they respect the way he has handled some extremely difficult situations.

This past season was especially tough for him considering he was heading into free agency and looking to do all he could to not just win, but showcase what he could do as player.

There were many nights when Zeller didn’t have that opportunity, but he understood.

The Celtics have been and will continue to be a team that’s about finding ways to win and on many nights coach Brad Stevens decided to go in a direction that didn’t include Zeller playing.

As the summer dragged on and the Celtics’ joined the handful of teams that came up short in landing Kevin Durant, Zeller’s return became more likely.

And Zeller’s patience was rewarded with a two-year, $16 million contract with the second year of the deal being a team option.

Now that he’s back in the fold, what’s next?

The ceiling for Zeller: Part-time starter

It may not happen on opening night and it may not happen in the first week, or even first month, of the season.

But at some point, Tyler Zeller will be in the Celtics’ starting lineup.

And when he’s there, he’ll do a lot of good things that he has proven he’s capable of doing.

When it comes to running the floor in transition, Zeller has distinguished himself as one of the Celtics best big men.

The Celtics are big on playing with space and pace and there are few 7-footers who can run the floor as well as Zeller.

In fact, his PACE (number of possessions per 48 minutes) last season was 101.93 which was tops among all Celtics frontcourt players and second overall to guard Marcus Smart (102.46).

It’ll get the Celtics a few easy buckets here and there, but it won’t score enough points with the coaching staff to keep a starting job, which would then relegate him back to being one of the team’s frontcourt reserves.

Still, Zeller is a luxury that few teams have: a player who won’t get (overly) bent out of shape even if his minutes resemble this.

The floor for Zeller: On the roster

Zeller has spent the bulk of his NBA career as a back-to-the-basket center, but showed more desire to score more from the perimeter last season, which is one of the reasons why he shot a career-low 47.6 percent from the field.

He’s trying to expand his game because of the direction that the NBA is going with big men who need to be able to score further away from the basket in addition to providing a presence around the rim.

While Zeller has decent mechanics on his perimeter shot, it’s clear that he’s not yet totally comfortable being a “stretch big.”

According to NBA.com/stats, Zeller shot 30.9 percent from the field last season on wide open shot attempts from at least 10 feet away.

With the addition of Al Horford and the return of Amir Johnson as well as Kelly Olynyk, Boston has a nice group of stretch centers they can put on the floor. And let’s not forget about Jonas Jerebko, who closed out the playoffs as a starter for Boston.

Minutes will once again be hard to come by for Zeller with any kind of consistency.

In fact, there’s a very good chance that he will have some games in which he doesn’t play (coaches decision) at all.

And depending on injuries, he may have to be inactive at times just to ensure Boston has depth on the perimeter.

Whether he’s starting, coming off the bench or not suited up at all, Zeller is an important part of this Celtics squad. Above all else, he provides depth, which continues to be one of the hallmarks for this franchise under Stevens.