ESPN's Chad Ford runs down his top draft picks of the decade (Insider), and names Rajon Rondo near the top of his "best mid-to-late first-round picks" list of players that slipped out of the lottery, but turned out to be better than nearly all their peers in the draft. Here's the blurb on Rondo:
Rajon Rondo (21st pick, 2006 draft)
You have to give Danny Ainge credit: He saw something in Rondo that virtually every other scout in the league didn't. Rondo was coming off a shaky sophomore season at Kentucky. His coach, Tubby Smith, wasn't a fan. He couldn't shoot. And many scouts wondered whether he could run the point.
But Ainge had a spy down at Tim Grover's Attack Athletics, and the word out of the gym was that Rondo was killing everyone, including current NBA players, in full-court play. I saw it with my own eyes about a month before the NBA draft and moved Rondo up to No. 6 on our Big Board and kept him there.
The Celtics seriously considered taking him at No. 7, then traded for the pick at 21. Within weeks of training camp, it was clear Boston had landed someone special, and you could argue that, in the Celtics' past two playoff runs, Rondo has been the equal, or better, of Boston's vaunted Big Three.