Would you trade Stephen Curry for Rajon Rondo? On first glance, many would do that deal without blinking, backing the decision with reasons deemed obvious by the majority:
1. Rondo plays better defense than Curry.
2. Rondo’s tougher and more durable than Curry.
3. Rondo’s a proven winner, Curry is not — at least in the NBA.
4. Trading for Rondo makes sense if Joe Lacob is interested in building a west coast version of the Celtics.
5. The Warriors need to do something to climb out of this never ending funk, and figure out a way to break up the Curry/Monta Ellis backcourt while getting equal value in return.
I’ve been against this trade from the start, because dealing Curry now (when his value’s at its lowest since the Warriors drafted him) would do more than improve Warriors’ defense from the outside in (which doesn’t make a lot of sense, either).
Replacing Curry with Rondo would greatly harm the Warriors offensively.
For those who (understandably) have tuned out the Warriors since the All-Star Break, Golden State has averaged 80.3 ppg over their past four games. They don’t run anymore. They don’t have anybody who can score inside besides David Lee. Unless they’re hitting threes, the Warriors have very little to offer, and Rondo can’t stop opposing teams from killing the Warriors on the offensive glass and getting to the line.
Curry’s incredibly efficient offensive game masks the challenges he faces on the defensive end, providing a net positive to his team. Similarly, Rondo’s defensive skills make up for the fact that offensively he brings high assist totals but not much else, and can’t shoot from the field or the line. Two things to note there:
— The Warriors don’t have three future Hall of Famers. Boston does. 10+ assists per game would be much harder for Rondo to accumulate in Golden State.
— Curry receives more grief per turnover committed than any Warrior from both the media and fans, partly because his passing style can look alternately slick or sloppy, fancy or foolish. The truth: both players averaged 3.3 turnovers per 36 minutes last year. This year, Curry’s turnovers have gone down (3.2 per 36 min) while Rondo’s turning the ball over more (3.6 per 36 min). Same usage rate, but Curry’s growing more careful while Rondo’s more careless than ever.
Now here’s the REAL reason why the Warriors should let Boston deal with Rondo
I understand that my timing couldn’t be worse, questioning Rondo’s usefulness today. Curry’s hurt again, while Rondo vanquished Basketball God Jeremy Lin on Sunday with a triple double. Not just a triple-double, but a nuclear triple-double: 18 points, 20 assists and 17 rebounds, on national television. That last part is hardly a coincidence, according to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullen.
It was the 17th triple-double of Rondo’s career (including playoffs), and I’m guessing it will not stun you to learn that 13 of them, including Sunday’s game, were broadcast on national television.
The wisdom of bringing in a player who needs to be on ABC, ESPN or TNT to go all-out is pretty questionable for a team like the Golden State Warriors, the worst road draw in the league BY FAR. Even more importantly, the Warriors have a leadership vacuum. Lee tries to be that guy, but he needs help in the locker room on that end — another player with more gravitas than Lee who also leads by example.
Rondo’s a point guard who dishes out copious amounts of dimes, and starting point guards (especially ones with attitude and a chip on their shoulder like Rondo) are perceived as leaders by many. Interesting. Try reading MacMullen’s article and convincing yourself that Rondo’s really a leader.
Kevin Garnett made a mental note of Rondo’s resolve when the notoriously tardy Celtic was the first or second player to arrive before the game.
“If you know Rondo, you know he’s an ‘I’ll show you’ kind of player,” Garnett observed. “This game had enough juice on it to be the kind he’s interested in.”
Need more than KG’s opinion? Okay, fine…
“That’s the Rondo we like to see, playing with all that energy,” said teammate Paul Pierce, who checked out with a game-high 34 points, including the biggest bucket of the night, a 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left that forced overtime.
That wasn’t a compliment from Pierce, one of the most consistent performers in the NBA over the last decade. Boston can’t count on that kind of effort every night, which is why Danny Ainge has looked forward to life post-Rondo for so long — they can’t stand the guy. He’s a surly player who needs the brightest lights and “Linsanity” to get to work on time. If Rondo was shipped to basketball’s version of purgatory (Golden State) after winning a title and several playoff series in Boston, can you imagine the amount of pouting we’d see? If he’s “notoriously tardy” in Boston, will he even show up in Oakland?