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March 30, 2008

Point Well Taken: Risk pays off as Rondo surpassing all expectations

BOSTON — Talk about a risky investment.

You trade the farm and bring in two pro basketball behemoths with Hall of Fame credentials, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Mind you, there is another behemoth, Paul Pierce, with similar credentials, already in-house.

You do nothing with the point guard position. In fact you eliminate one candidate in the "farm" trade, which was universally termed the worst point guard group in the National Basketball Association last winter.

And you hand the reins of this new, star-driven team to an unproven, sometimes obstinate point guard, Rajon Rondo, who averaged just 6.4 points and 3.8 assists as a part-time starter as a rookie the year before.

That's akin to buying 2008 Mercedes and asking a 15-year-old to be the chauffeur.

"Yes, that's pretty much what happened," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Sounds a little risky? From the outside, I guess, I could see it from that perspective."

Rivers is not crazy. His perspective is just much different than yours and mine.

He was a life-long point guard, averaging 10.9 points per game over his 13-year NBA career. He knows a thing or two about feeding a Hall-of-Famer as he started eight years in Atlanta with Dominique Wilkins.

"There are a few ways of looking at it," says Rivers, of the hand-off this summer to Rondo, who turned 22 in February.

"The way I look at it is, as a point guard, you don't have to do as much with Kevin, Ray and Paul," says Rivers. "It's a good place to learn about the game."

Point guard has pretty much been a minor-league position on the Celtics since Dennis Johnson retired in 1990. With all due respect to Brian Shaw, Sherman Douglas and Kenny Anderson, since DJ, the point-guard play has been forgettable.

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