When the defending champion Boston Celtics come to town Wednesday your eyes likely will be fixated on The Big Ticket, The Truth and the man who once played Jesus Shuttlesworth.
But between gawking at stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Thunder fans should take a moment to focus on Boston point guard Rajon Rondo. Rondo is the player the Thunder wants rookie guard Russell Westbrook to develop into. Several front office executives consider Rondo, in only his third season, to be the league’s best on-ball defender, ahead of perennial pests Ron Artest, Bruce Bowen, Shane Battier and Tayshaun Prince. With his long arms, big hands and blazing speed, Westbrook has all the physical tools that have made Rondo one of the league’s most gifted guards. And like Rondo in 2006, Westbrook is starting his career far from a finished product. Rondo was a skillful playmaker who could get to the rim at will when he declared for the draft after his sophomore year at Kentucky. But he also was a below-average shooter, struggled to make the right play as a rookie and at times had a penchant for playing out of control. The same can be said for Westbrook. But the Thunder’s No. 4 overall pick has much more upside as an offensive threat.
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Rajon Rondo’s rookie averages in 2006-07: →Points: 6.4 →Rebounds: 3.7 →Assists: 3.8 →Steals: 1.6 →Turnovers: 1.76 →Field-goal percentage: 41.8 →3-point percentage: 20.7 →Games played: 78 →Games started: 25