Kyrie Irving and Rajon Rondo are two different point guards who have battled it out five times with the former Kentucky Wildcat winning three games. However, the former Duke Blue Devil seems like he’ll catch up with the way the Cleveland Cavaliers have been playing as of late. Individually, Rondo has proven himself more than Irving on the biggest playoff stages, but Irving, as good as he already is, still has room to excel and this should set him up to convincingly overtake Rondo in short time. This year, Kyrie Irving has stepped up in a big way and we will now enumerate ten reasons why he is already the better player, starting with number 10:
Rajon Rondo is no scorer and the ability to make buckets allows Kyrie Irving to maximize his options offensively. He has a wide array of moves and he can take over an opponent in a multitude of ways. Over their last five matchups, Irving has dominated Rondo in this area with respective averages of 23.8 to just 9.4 points per game.
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9. Usage Rates
Kyrie Irving’s 25.4% usage rating obviously thwarts Rajon Rondo’s 20.0 and that speaks volumes. It means that Irving is being relied on more by the Cavaliers than the Mavericks count on Rondo. Indeed, with great power comes great responsibility and Irving is making the most of it as his Cavs look to even out the season series against the Mavericks.
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8. All Star Selection
Rajon Rondo has been an All-Star four out of his nine NBA seasons (including the 2014-15 season). Kyrie Irving has been an All-Star in three out of his four NBA seasons and has already won the MVP award for it in the 2013-14 season. Kyrie Irving’s first year as an NBA All Star also happens to be Rondo’s last thus far, as he hasn’t seen the big stage in mid-February in over two years. Irving is not only better in how quickly he’s become an All-Star, but Irving also seems to have the brighter future among the two.
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7. Ball Handling
A basic skill in being an effective point guard is ball handling. While Rajon Rondo is able to use his speed to compound his ball handling skills, Kyrie Irving has the ball in a string like no other. When not crossing over opponents, he’s owning them through hesitations and other dribbling exploits. What’s more, he’s able to do these in different paces with a high degree of difficulty.
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Rajon Rondo, with all his delightful talents, is also known for being a tough work on coaches. This has been magnified in Dallas when he had a shouting match with Coach Rick Carlisle while on the court. On Kyrie Irving’s part, he has come a long way as a listener and the Cavaliers are now reaping the fruits of his improved mentality.
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5. Taking Care of the Ball
Another important facet of a point guard’s overall efficiency is minimizing turnovers. In this regard, Kyrie Irving’s 2.4 turnovers per game once again trumps Rajon Rondo’s 3.1 miscues. Irving also has a turnover percentage of 11.2% compared to Rondo’s 23.1% – all these while Uncle Drew having a higher usage rating than Rondo.
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4. Player Efficiency Rating
Let’s talk about efficiency. The Player Efficiency Rating (PER) has been the most common advanced stat that pundits usually refer to when assessing a player’s overall value. In this aspect, Kyrie Irving’s PER of 20.9 significantly outshines Rajon Rondo’s 16.8.
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3. Shooting Percentages
A great point guard needs to be able to score from distance as it keeps the defense honest and it allows them to break down defenses. Here, we look at the shooting percentages of Irving and Rondo from different areas of the game, and combine them to show the player’s true shooting percentage. A straightforward comparison of their shooting percentages is as follows:
Kyrie Irving – 46.4% FG / 39.5% 3pt FG / 86.3% FT / 57.7% True Shooting Percentage
Rajon Rondo – 41.1% FG / 31.9% 3pt FG / 31.7% FT / 43.0% True Shooting Percentage
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2. One-on-One Defense
We all know about Kyrie’s insistence on playing better defense this season, and he has shown it when playing against opposing guards. Here are the shooting stats for Irving and Rondo’s most recent opposing point guards:
Eric Bledsoe, 3-12
Jeff Teague, 7-15
Isiah Thomas, 4-13
Stephen Curry, 5-17
Reggie Jackson, 7-15
Average Shooting Percentage: 36.1%
Jordan Clarkson, 6-13
Stephen Curry, 6-11
Damian Lillard, 4-10
Norris Cole, 8-12
Deron Williams, 8-13
Average Shooting Percentage: 54.2%
As you can see, Kyrie’s past five opponents have shot worse against him (36.1% average) compared to how opposing point guards shot against Rondo (54.2% average).
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1. Clutch Stats
Kyrie Irving didn’t get the moniker Mr. 4th Quarter for nothing. Even when he was still a rookie, Irving has already made a number of game winners with one at the expense of Rondo’s then-Celtic team. He has the uncanny ability to take over in the fourth quarter and it further separates him from Rajon Rondo. here are some fourth quarter stars from Irving and Rondo this season (per NBA.com/stats):
In fourth quarters this season, Rajon Rondo is shooting 36-95 from the two-point range and 4-17 from the three-point range, giving him a 35.7% overall fourth quarter shooting percentage.
Kyrie Irving, on the other hand, is shooting 84-170 on two-point field goals and 27-80 on three-point field goals, giving him a 44.4% overall fourth quarter shooting percentage. That has him shooting 9% better than Rondo despite the greater volume in shot attempts.