January 18, 2011
Rajon Rondo(notes) is leading the NBA in assists by a wide margin at 13.3 per game. He's also second in the NBA in steals, pilfering 2.4 per contest. And, as it turns out, he might also be leading the league in stolen assists per game.
All year, we've seen Rajon pulling up in transition to needlessly buffer his assist totals with an unnecessary pass to someone on the break, and we've also seen some dubious calls as Rondo works his magic on Boston's home court. But late Monday night Mark Deeks from ShamSports.com found the strangest example yet of Rondo (to an innocent extent, we should point out), and the Celtics' home scorers giving away assists that weren't due.
No, it wasn't a pass that led to an eventual move and score. And no, it wasn't a needless pass tossed solely to earn the assist. It was a pass thrown by someone else, leading to a Boston score, with Rondo somehow getting the assist credit.
Actually, that's not even true in the slightest. Allen made a nice pass to Shaquille O'Neal(notes), who then pump faked, dribbled, turned over his other shoulder, pump faked, and scored on the weak side. It shouldn't have even been an assist for Allen.
And yet, somehow, Rajon got the dime.
Now, this isn't a huge deal. But this does warrant scrutiny, because this is the only part of the NBA landscape (outside of the often infuriating block/charge call) that is left solely up to discretion. Not to discredit these fabulous playmakers, but we've seen John Stockton, Chris Paul(notes) and Deron Williams(notes) all take in assists due to very liberal takes on what constitutes an assist from their home scorers. And, as we develop more and more eras as the decades roll on, it would be nice to compare point guards who are separated by 20 years with a degree of certainty we can rely upon.
And though Rondo deserves that assists-per-game lead this season, the NBA needs to pay attention. Too many times we've heard "from Rajon Rondo!" barked by the Boston PA as the other team brings the ball up court, and wondered just what that scorer's table was thinking.
Now we know. They're thinking, "How can we get this guy as many assists as we can?" And I'm thinking, "Why do they make it so that I have to watch one of the league's most dominant and exciting players with a jaundiced eye?"
Step in, NBA. Help us out here. Assist us, if you will.