'Tis the season to take every possible rumor and beat it to death until the next one comes along, and while there hasn't been any official mention of a Rajon Rondo for Deron Williams trade, the timing seems right over analyze this potential trade.
Williams has had his time in the rumor mill last season when he was traded from the Utah Jazz to the New Jersey Nets. Rondo, meanwhile, has practically lived in the rumor mill for the past two or three seasons. This season is no exception, as trade talks have surrounded the three-time All-Star guard.
Williams and Rondo have their similarities, but they also have key differences. But don't get me wrong, both are All-Star caliber point guards capable of taking over any game at any time. Still, each possesses a skill set that the other lacks, making a potential swap an intriguing proposition.
Let's start with Williams, who averages 21.9 points on 40.8 percent shooting to go along with 8.3 assists and 1.1 steals. Rondo, meanwhile, is averaging 14.2 points and 9.6 assists. As far as playing the actual position of point guard is concerned, Williams is a better than average floor general. He's sixth in the league in assists. Rondo, of course, is a premier passer, ranking second in the league and constantly wowing with his superb vision and trick passes.
Breaking down D-Will's passing, 95 of his 235 total assist have come on three-pointers while 19 have come on dunks. Williams has an assist-to-bad pass ratio of 3.4 and is averaging 10.8 dimes per 48 minutes. Rondo is superior in the passing department, owning an assist-to-bad pass ratio of 4.2 and 12.7 assists per 48. Eighty four of Rondo's 186 dishes have been on jump shots and 21 have come on dunks.
A blemish on Williams' point guard play is turnovers. Williams is second-to-last in the league among qualifying point guards in turnovers with 146 total, which translates to 4.2 per game -- 1.2 more than he has averaged for his career.
Rondo isn't much better in this area, though, as he's averaging 3.8 turnovers this year, which is also 1.2 more than he has averaged during his career. Rondo has significantly fewer turnovers, though, giving the ball away only 90 times this season, but to be fair, he has played 11 fewer games than Williams.
When it comes to scoring, there is no comparison. Williams is better, period. Always has been, probably always will be. Williams has averaged 17.5 points in his career while Rondo has averaged 10.9, although both are having career years scoring the basketball.
Even with their offensive improvements this year, there's one glaring difference that can make a major impact on the game: Williams is a jump shooter, Rondo is not. Eighty percent of Williams' shots have been jumpers, and he's averaging 12.3 points per game off of them. The majority of Rondo's offense has come on close-range shots (53 percent), so he's only shooting jumpers less than half of the time, accounting for just 3.9 points per game.
It's not essential for every player to be a jump shooter. If it were, we'd have a lot of players (mostly centers) looking for work. That being said, it's important for any point guard running this Celtics offense to have a consistent jump shot. That opens up the interior for players like Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal, Brandon Bass and so on, as well as drawing defenders off of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Williams can do that right now, while Rondo simply cannot.
THE VERDICT: When considering a trade, you have to look at both sides. Williams makes sense right now for Boston for several reasons. First, his scoring and jump shooting ability would be a tremendous help. The Celtics rank 26th in the league in points per game, so adding offense certainly doesn't hurt. Williams' jump shooting (and taking it further, his ability to make his jump shots) opens up the court more so than Rondo's.
And for the Nets, it makes some sense to do this deal. There have been grumblings that Williams doesn't want to remain in New Jersey, which is bad news for the Nets since they mortgaged their future for him, so they may be looking to get something out of him at the deadline instead of taking a chance entering free agency this offseason. Rondo would be an excellent acquisition for New Jersey from a talent perspective and could certainly help reel in players on the open market once they make the move to Brooklyn. While he wouldn't win them a championship alone, Rondo is definitely a good piece to build around.
Now, there's the ugly business of making this trade work financially. A straight up Rondo-for-Williams swap would not work as Williams is owed $16,359,805 this year, roughly six million more than Rondo. But if you toss Jermaine O'Neal (owed over six million dollars) into the mix, it could work. Boston might have to toss a first-round pick, of which they have two this year, into the deal to get New Jersey to bite. All in all, it would be worth it to get a player like Williams.
Finally, there's the discussion of Williams increasing the attraction of playing in Boston to one Dwight Howard. It's not a secret that Howard likes Williams and wants to play with him, but can one player really convince another to join them? LeBron James always said he wanted to play with Dwyane Wade, and look what happened. Sure, it's possible that having Williams would help increase the C's chances of landing Howard (that is, if he even makes it to free agency without getting traded and signing an extension elsewhere). Money is also a factor, but the Celtics are in position to offer two near max contracts when Allen and Garnett come off the books this summer, which they could use to lock up Williams and Howard.
Even without Howard, trading for Williams would still be a pretty good deal. If presented with the opportunity, Danny Ainge should pull the trigger. We still have roughly two weeks until the trade deadline, and anything can (and probably will) happen. So for now, enjoy Friday night's Rondo vs. Williams matchup and start dreaming of all the possibilities.