The point guard position has seen a vast improvement in recent years – there are now 10 or so point guards vying to be in the NBA’s top five. Five years ago Steve Nash, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams ran the point guard discussion. Veterans such as Chauncey Billups were still relevant, and young guns such as Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook had yet to arrive on the scene.
Today, the NBA’s most important position is the toughest to rank due to its depth. Chris Paul and Derrick Rose are superstars. Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, and Stephen Curry are arguably right there with them. There are youngsters like Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday, Damian Lillard, Ricky Rubio and John Wall. There are more seasoned guards like Deron Williams and Steve Nash.
But out of this large group of players, one of the most interesting comparisons involves Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. So simply put, who is better?
They are both great floor generals, but Curry is better than Rondo.
So why specifically is Curry better?
Curry is a more dynamic player. He sh0ots 42.5 percent in isolation sets, he is a 49.8 percent spot-up shooter and he shoots 54.3 percent in transition. By comparison, Rondo is worse in isolation, shooting only 36.5 percent, and is a substantially worse spot up shooter, converting only 41.3 percent of his attempts. Rondo is slightly better in transition, finishing 54.8 percent of the time, but that is only marginally better than Curry.
While Rondo gets his teammates involved more often than Curry – his 11.3 assists per game bests Curry’s 6.9 assists – Rondo needs the ball in his hands to succeed whereas Curry does not necessarily. Both can set up their teammates but only one of them can shoot.
Rondo scored 225 baskets last season and of those nearly 75 percent of those were unassisted baskets. Rondo scored most often from inside the arc. He drove to the basket and finished around the rim. Rondo did not hit a three from the left corner last season and made only one from the right corner last season.
Curry is a far better scorer. Not only did he average more points per game last season, 22.9 verses 13.7, but he shoots a drastically better percentage from three. Curry shots more than 45 percent from three whereas Rondo is below 25 percent.
Curry does not need the ball in his hands to score. Of all of Curry’s made threes from the left corner, 88.5 percent of them were assisted. From the right corner 85.7 percent of them were assisted. When Jarrett Jack or Harrison Barnes would handle the ball, Curry could resort to being one of the best spot up shooters with ease.
Curry’s spot up shooting takes his offensive game to another level. Rondo’s lack of spot up shooting drastically hurts his overall game.
Rondo is 27 years old and Curry is 25. Both have a history of injuries; Rondo is coming off ACL surgery this past season and Curry has had ankle trouble in the past. Curry’s porcelain ankles cracking is always a possibility, but you can’t plan for it. Rondo’s injury could be more detrimental to his future because he is older – it could slow him down and force him to rely on his jump shooting.
Defensively, Rondo is better. He records plenty of steals and blocked shots. He has some of the biggest hands in the league, just ask ESPN’s John Anderson. Opposing guards shoot only 32.4 percent on spot-up jumpers when Rondo is guarding them verses the 38.1 percent mark Curry allows. Rondo also defends the pick-and-roll better than Curry. Opposing pick-and-roll ball handlers shoot only 38.9 percent with Rondo defending compared to Curry’s 46.4 percent.
Curry is a better off-ball defender than Rondo as opposing players shot a lower percentage when running off screens and off-dribble hand offs.
Although Rondo may be the slightly better defender, Curry is not far behind. With more experience, Curry should continue to improve defensively. At this point in time, Curry’s offensive game is significantly ahead of and more lethal than Rondo’s which leads to Curry being the better player of the two.