Windhorst: 'Rondo is a franchise player'

In a wide-ranging interview with ESPN Boston Radio’s Adam Jones, ESPN.com Heat Index reporter Brian Windhorst discussed the Heat’s victory over the Celtics and, most interestingly, argued why he’d take Rajon Rondo over Chris Paul if he were running a franchise.

“I’m a little bit biased on Rondo because I think he’s an incredible talent,” Windhorst said. "I don’t think I’ve seen too many performances to match the playoff series he had against the Cavs two years ago, when he pretty much single-handedly knocked them out of the playoffs. He’s a little bit off right now because he has to be a little bit more interest in scoring.

"The Celtics, for some reason, think they can upgrade there. Most basketball people will say to you, if you could choose between Rondo or Chris Paul, they would choose Chris Paul. But I’m going to tell you something ... I would roll with Rondo. No. 1, he doesn’t have bad knees like Chris Paul does. No. 2, I think he is as good of a defensive point guard as has been in the league in this era. He might be the defensive point guard since Gary Payton. I just have so much respect for him.

"I know he can be tough to deal with. But go show me a star player that doesn’t have issues at times. To me, I think Rondo is a franchise player and I agree that he benefits from being around Hall of Famers. But guess what? Take a look at the teams that win titles. You’re not seeing too many one-man teams win titles. You do need to have a couple of other stars.

“I think getting a point guard, especially in this era of the NBA, is vital and I think Rondo has been largely healthy, especially in his legs. He’d be my guy if I was running the Celtics.”

Among the other topics Windhorst touched on:

* On the Celtics’ 0-2 start: “I don’t think it’s fair to judge the Celtics right now. Paul Pierce is out, they’re dealing with some changes to their roster. Their center position is a borderline disaster and you have to figure they’re going to try to do something about that. I don’t think this is going to be the Celtics team you’re going to see [by the end of the] season probably.”

* On the Celtics’ success using the zone defense against the Heat: “It’s a gimmick defense in the NBA and I’m sure Doc [Rivers] doesn’t want to play it 24 possessions but he knows it’s something he has to go to. Until the Celtics can do something with the center spot or get some defensive production in there, they’re going to have to go to that as any way they can to get defensive stops in the interior.”

* He picks the Heat and Bulls as the top teams in the East, but said he’ll “never count out the Celtics”: “I would rather be behind on the Celtics and be mocked for being a fool for not thinking that they’re done than kick dirt on them too early. I just have too much respect for them.”