The Los Angeles Lakers are a game away from claiming their first conference title since 2010 (though don’t discount the Nuggets, who have made a habit of erasing 3-1 series deficits this postseason). While LeBron James and arguably the best teammate he’s ever played with, Anthony Davis (apologies to Dwyane Wade), have been at the forefront of L.A.’s resurgence, the Lakers likely wouldn’t be where they are without the contributions of veteran point guard Rajon Rondo. The four-time All-Star has been a thorn in Denver’s side all series, pillaging the third-seeded Nuggets for 8.3 dimes and 1.5 steals per game off the bench.
Perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves—the Lakers still have to put away Denver, which is easier said than done (just ask the Jazz and Clippers), and whoever would await them in the Finals (Miami or Boston) won’t be a pushover either. But in the event that Los Angeles does leave Orlando with the Larry O’Brien Trophy in hand, would a second title (remember, he won as a Celtic in 2008) put Rondo on a Hall-of-Fame trajectory?
Some would see Rondo’s HOF prospects as unlikely—a below-average jump shooter (31.6 percent on three-pointers), the 34-year-old has barely averaged double-digit points for his career (10.2 per game). Rondo has also been characterized by coaches and teammates as “high-maintenance,” which may explain why he’s playing for his sixth team in as many years.
While detractors would point to his career-long shooting woes and recent journeyman stretch as reasons to keep him out of Springfield, Kendrick Perkins still feels his former Boston teammate warrants Hall-of-Fame consideration, particularly if he’s able to add another ring to his collection.
“Can we talk about Playoff Rondo, the great floor general for a second? I’m looking at Playoff Rondo right now and he’s on the verge of becoming a Hall of Famer,” said Perkins, presenting Rondo’s HOF case during an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up. “If he wins this title, I think we should start putting him in the conversation of being a Hall of Famer, because he’s going to be the only player in NBA history to win a title with the Celtics and the Lakers.”
Rondo’s resume speaks for itself—four All-Defensive Team selections, three times leading the league in assists, a steals title in 2010. More importantly, Rondo has played his best when the lights have shined brightest, averaging a healthy 13.6 points and 9.2 assists per game over 114 appearances in the postseason.
Another former Celtic, Brian Scalabrine, wasn’t as sold as Perkins, though the White Mamba didn’t completely dismiss Rondo’s Hall-of-Fame candidacy. “If you look at his high level and some of his legendary performances, you do have to kind of put him in that category. The one thing I never understood from him is, why not show the world how good you are night in and night out?” asked Scalabrine on RADIO.COM's Scal and Pals podcast, acknowledging the inconsistency that has plagued Rondo throughout his career. “I don’t even know if he can tell you the answer.”
Personally, I think the well-traveled Rondo falls just short of what I would deem “Hall-of-Fame-worthy,” but if Mitch Richmond and other fringe candidates can get in, perhaps some of the more lenient voters will find a spot for him in Springfield.