Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo celebrates during their NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Los Angeles

Dooling says Rondo is NBA’s second best player. Behind Durant.

23 Comments

Keyon Dooling said some genuinely important things during his CSNNE.com interview this week, and if you haven’t read about his discussion of him being abused you should do that first. It matters more than basketball.

But Dooling talked basketball, too, and let’s just say he’s higher on Rajon Rondo than you are. Really, he’s higher on Rondo than anyone not named Rondo.

No doubt Rondo is an elite point guard. But Dooling is Rondo’s friend, he bonded with the young Celtics point guard, and as I think that may cloud his judgment. Actually, I don’t think that, I know it. Here is what Dooling told Jessica Camerato of CSNNE.com.

“He’s come from nothing, he’s come from nothing. He’s the second-best player in the league. He didn’t make the USA Team, sometimes he’s a replacement for the All-Star Game. He’s the epitome of an unselfish player. He rebounds the basketball, he affects the game in five statistical categories. He shoots a higher percentage than all the point guards and they always talk about how he can’t shoot.”

Dooling continued, “Not only do I think he’s the second-best player in the NBA behind Kevin Durant, but I think he is an amazing leader. I think he doesn’t get a fair shake in the media and I wish they knew my friend the way I did.”

Second best player in the league behind Durant? I feel like we’re forgetting someone in that conversation…

Just for the record, Rondo shot 44.8 percent overall, 23.8 percent from three, and if you make it a points-per-shots and included free throws and threes in the mix (called true shooting percentage) it is a below average 48.3 percent. So 44.8/23.8/48.3 for Rondo, compared to Chris Paul’s 47.7/37.1/58.1 or Steve Nash’s 53.2/39/62.5. I have seen Rondo knock down key jumpers, but the reason people say he doesn’t have a good jump shot is he has only shown us an inconsistent jump shot.

I don’t like these kinds of conversations because it demeans Rondo, whose playmaking skills are elite, who is one of the better point guards in the game and is the guy who may be the best player on the Celtics roster right now. He brings it at both ends and is fun to watch with the ball. But Rondo is not the second best player in the NBA, obviously. I’m not sure where he would rank numerically because I find that entire kind of exercise silly. I’m a guy who likes to put players on tiers, and Rondo is on one way up the mountain, but a step back from CP3 and Deron Williams right now just as pure point guards, and if Derrick Rose is healthy he may not be a pure point but he’s ahead of Rondo, too.

By the way, Dooling love Kevin Garnett, too, and makes a case for this friend.

“He’s probably the best player of this time, of this generation. If you look at the way all the bigs play, they don’t mimic Tim Duncan. They mimic Kevin Garnett. If Kevin was coached by Doc a long time ago and if Kevin played with five other All-Stars and all these great players in this great system, I’m sure he would have the same amount — see, our game is a little bit weird. The best players don’t always win, and Kevin Garnett at the end of the day is probably the . . . if you don’t want to call him the best of this generation, you can definitely call him the most influential just because Kobe [Bryant] was like Mike (Michael Jordan). Derrick Rose and all these guys, it was other people who came before them like that. And when Kevin came into the league, he was different from Bob McAdoo, he was different from all those players who fit that mold.

Spurs honor Kobe Bryant in his last game in San Antonio (VIDEO)

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 30:  Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands next to Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs on March 30, 2006 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Spurs won 96-85. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

The Kobe Bryant farewell tour has gone all around the NBA, but some stops are more emotional than others. His final trip to San Antonio certainly qualifies — the Spurs and Lakers have played each other in the playoffs eight times in his career, including twice in the Western Conference Finals (the Lakers won both times). The only player who has rivaled Bryant’s longevity is Tim Duncan, and the Lakers and Spurs were the two most dominant teams of the 2000s, winning nine of the 12 championships from 1999 to 2010 between them.

So, of course, the Spurs had an elaborate tribute video planned for Bryant. The video ran two and a half minutes and featured narration from Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Watch it below:

Report: Clippers’ Austin Rivers has broken hand, out 4-6 weeks

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29:  Austin Rivers #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers scores on a layup past D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 105-93 win at Staples Center on January 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

The Clippers are without Blake Griffin for the next few weeks as he recovers from a broken hand stemming from an altercation with an equipment manager. Now, the Clippers have lost backup point guard Austin Rivers to the exact same injury, albeit not in the same circumstances, obviously.

The loss of Rivers isn’t as devastating as the loss of Griffin, but given the Clippers’ lack of depth, it’s certainly not ideal. Now, Chris Paul‘s only backup is Pablo Prigioni.

Warriors hold off late Thunder run to remain undefeated at home

4 Comments

For once, a marquee matchup involving the Golden State Warriors lived up to its billing. Their much-hyped meetings with the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs were anticlimactic blowouts nearly free of drama. And for the first half on Saturday night’s 116-108 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, it seemed like the defending champions were headed for another snoozer. They led by as much as 20, and completely outmatched the Thunder on both ends of the floor.

But the Thunder rallied behind a surprising defensive effort in the second half and some solid play from Enes Kanter. Plus, you know, Kevin Durant, who led all scorers with 40 points and gave the normally unflappable Draymond Green fits defensively. They tied the game at 104 before Golden State pulled away.

Despite the huge first-half lead, the Warriors weren’t their usual selves. Stephen Curry shot 1-for-8 from behind the three-point line, and triple-double machine Draymond Green scored just nine points. Golden State’s most consistent player was Harrison Barnes, who has probably read the speculation that the Warriors would have to dump him to land Durant this summer. He hit three three-pointers and shot 8-for-14 overall on the way to 19 points.

The Warriors’ bench carried them for stretches, outscoring Oklahoma City’s reserves 42-17.

Despite the Thunder’s late run, this was a statement win for the Warriors. They sent the message that, even when they aren’t in total control from start to finish, they can still pull away from other elite teams. The Thunder have given them the toughest challenge of any team they’ll likely have to face in the late rounds of the playoffs this spring, and it’s to their credit that they took the first-half punch and came back to make it a game. But the Warriors are on a different level from the rest of the league, and they showed that clearly on Saturday.

Kevin Durant brushes off free-agency speculation: “Once that time comes, I’ll make that decision”

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 05:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives on Harrison Barnes #40 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on January 5, 2015 in Oakland, California.  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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

It goes without saying that with the Thunder and Warriors playing each other for the first time on Saturday night, Kevin Durant free-agency talk has been at an all-time high. The hot rumor this week is that the Warriors are the frontrunners to land Durant this summer, which would shake up the league like nothing since LeBron James going to Miami.

Obviously, all parties were going to be asked about it before the hotly anticipated game. And obviously, all parties were going to downplay it. That’s exactly what happened.

Here’s what Durant said, via the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Rusty Simmons:

“Once that time comes, I’ll make that decision. I’ll sit down and talk to my closest friends and family and figure it out, but right now, I’m just trying to be the best basketball player I can be every single day. I have to be at a high level to lead every day at practices, shootarounds and games, and that’s a tough task. I can’t focus on anything else, other than that.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr also downplayed the speculation:

“I don’t know why anybody would talk about anything but the fact that we’re 45-4 and have a hell of a team,” said Kerr, who hasn’t addressed rumors about Durant favoring the Bay Area as a future destination with his players. “Why would anybody talk about some different team, future stuff and other players?

“Focus on our team. We’re pretty good.”

On both sides, that’s the appropriate way to respond publicly. Not that this is going to go away anytime soon. They play each other two more times this season, once in Oklahoma City and once more in Oakland, and this is going to get brought up then, too. And just like Saturday, nobody will give a definitive answer. Nor should they. Nobody will know anything until July 1. But until then, it will be impossible to quiet the chatter.