Rajon Rondo Battling Chauncey Billups, Derrick Rose for Team USA Starting Job


Rajon Rondo Battling Chauncey Billups, Derrick Rose for Team USA Starting Job Rajon Rondo
is used to being the only point guard in town.

And quite honestly, that's the way he likes it. Rondo wants to be in total control of the game, calling the shots from start to finish. Put him on the floor, and he never wants to come off. Give him 44 minutes, and his only question is why can't he play all 48.

And it's never been a problem in Boston. The point guard role on Doc Rivers' Celtics is Rondo's, all to himself, and it has been for as long as he's been in the NBA.

This summer, things might be a little different.

Rondo is one of 15 players who made the cut on July 28 as finalists for Mike Krzyzewski's USA Basketball roster. The Americans are weeks away from tipping off in the world championships, which begin Aug. 28 in Istanbul, Turkey, and no one's role is certain. Not even Rondo, who has two NBA Finals under his belt at the tender age of 24, knows what the future holds.

It bears mentioning that of Coach K's 15 guys, four are natural point guards. Rondo will be competing for a roster spot, minutes and ultimately a starting role on the USA depth chart with three other talented playmakers — Chauncey Billups, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.

Gone, temporarily, are the days when only Nate Robinson and occasionally Marquis Daniels would compete with Rondo for the reins of the point guard role. The position is jam-packed now.

And Rondo might not be the favorite to land the starting job.

If you want experience, Billups is your guy. He's played 13 seasons, made five All-Star teams and won an NBA Finals MVP. By far the oldest of Coach K's 15 finalists, Billups will be there to lend veteran leadership to a young Team USA. He's a must-keep.

If you want athleticism, go with Rose. Rose was the No. 1 overall pick in 2008 and the Rookie of the Year in '09 for a reason — he brings extraordinary athletic ability to the table, and it shows on both ends of the floor. The Chicago Bulls' floor leader is quickly blossoming into one of the best all-around guards in the game.

If you want scoring, go with Westbrook. As a partner in crime to Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City, Westbrook has had the perfect stage to emerge these last two years as a premier scoring threat at the guard position. Westbrook can knock down the 3, beat you with his mid-range game, or attack the basket and pick you apart. He's a triple threat.

But when all's said and done, Rondo may emerge as the best of the bunch. He may not be the most accomplished, the most athletic or the most polished at putting the ball in the hole. But he's the all-around best guard Team USA has to offer.

Rondo is a playmaker. He has the athletic ability to do the job himself, but he also knows when to defer to a teammate. He always puts the team's best interests above his own, and that's what makes him one of the game's best young point guards.

The moment hasn't yet hit Rondo, who's only a few short weeks removed from playing Game 7 of the NBA Finals in Los Angeles. It's hard for him to shake the NBA out of his short-term memory and focus on the world stage. But eventually, it will all sink in for the Celtics' floor general — this is his chance to represent his country and win on a bigger stage than ever before.

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