Will Rondo's Success Alter Draft Strategy?
It seems worth noting today that Rondo is youngest starter on an NBA champion since Tony Parker in 2003. Parker turned 21 during the Spurs' playoff run that season, and had Speedy Claxton to buoy him in the backcourt. This year, 22-year-old Rondo shared the point with Sam Cassell and Eddie House in the Finals, but still played over 30 minutes per game.
Myriad teams passed over Rondo in the 2006 draft for guys like Quincy Douby, Patrick O'Bryant, Mouhamed Sene, Cedric Simmons, and Oleksiy Pecherov. Rarely do guards or swingmen get drafted based on their defensive potential; when they do (Tayshaun Prince), the choices are criticized. And to be fair, it's dangerous for an exec with a tenuous hold on employment to pick a perimeter defender in the draft: if the team defense is no good (Knicks), then your potential defensive wiz kid (Renaldo Balkman) will have no chance to look alive. Gunners can score no matter how bad the team offense is. Disruptors require community help.
What players would Rondo's success endorse this draft season? Russell Westbrook would be the first name I'd find -- like Rajon, Westbrook's jumper has been questioned, but no one denies the brilliant athleticism and focused defense he offers. Lower-valued guards like Chris Douglas-Roberts and DeMarcus Nelson should be included in this conversation, as well. We'll find out next week if anyone thinks Rondo has greater implications.