MIAMI – During last season’s playoffs, at a time when Heat guard Dwyane Wade was struggling in the Eastern Conference finals, I wrote that I’d rather have Celtics guard Rajon Rondo than Wade. Nothing has happened to change that opinion.
My “Best Three Players on the Planet” are
- LeBron James
- Kevin Durant
- Rajon Rondo
Last season, my “Best Three Players on the Planet” were
- Kobe Bryant
- LeBron James
- Dwyane Wade
That’s a radical swing. And it’s with all due respect to Wade, Bryant, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, or anyone else you want to throw in the running (although Love and Howard were really tough cuts).
Let’s get two things straight: Wade is a future Hall of Famer and a great player; Wade is a better fit for the Heat than Rondo. There’s no disputing either of those. They are facts.
Right now, however, Rondo is the better player. He was the better player during last season’s playoffs, he will be the better player in a month, a year, or even three years from now. He’s even better than Bryant.
There’s been a takeover in the NBA. Or maybe I’m late to the party. Anyway…
In my “Best Three Players on the Planet” list, I always give deference to titles. Championships are the calling cards of the great ones. It’s always been that way. It will always be that way.
And I look for all-around players – offense, defense, free throws, passing, leadership, durability, ability to perform down the stretch of close games, ability to perform in big games, overall playmaking. There’s no formula. Those are just the primary things I consider.
Durant doesn’t have a title and isn’t as complete defensively as Bryant or Wade. But the guy is good. Really good. He’s a leader. He’s a shot-maker. He plays big in big games. He makes big plays. And he’s a willing defender. He’s got amazing all-around skills. He’s on the list.
Rondo has a title, and he’s as much of an all-around player as you’ll find in the NBA. He’s a four-time All-Defensive Team pick. You know about the triple-doubles, his vision and the outstanding playoff performances. Of course, he is a bad free throw shooter (.618 career) and has no jumper.
Why does he ascend above Wade and Bryant this season?