Rajon Rondo Favored to Repeat as NBA Assist Champion, With Deron Williams Close Second

Rajon Rondo Favored to Repeat as NBA Assist Champion, With Deron Williams Close SecondCeltics point guard Rajon Rondo led the NBA in assists at 11.7 per
game last season to win that title for the first time, and he is the
Bovada 5-2 favorite to lead the league in assists again in 2012-13.

Rondo
didn't actually have the most assists in the NBA, as he was limited to
53 games due to injury in the lockout-shortened season and finished with
620. But his average beat out runner-up Steve Nash, then of Phoenix, by
a full assist per game. The 11.7 average was the best in the NBA since
Hall of Famer John Stockton averaged 12.33 for the 1994-95 Utah Jazz.

Stockton
holds the NBA record in total assists with 15,806, nearly 4,000 more
than No. 2 Jason Kidd (currently with the New York Knicks). Stockton
also holds the single-season mark, averaging 14.54 in 1989-90 for the
Jazz, the only team Stockton played for. Magic Johnson has the highest
career average at 11.2, but he played around 600 fewer regular-season
games than Stockton and is thus fourth on the all-time assists list
(Mark Jackson is No. 3).

Rondo was the first Celtic to lead
the NBA in assists per game since Bob Cousy won his eighth straight (and
last) assists title in 1959-60. Cousy's career-high average of 9.53 per
game came in that final season. Cousy ranks 15th all-time in total
assists with 6,955 and averaged 7.5 helpers per game in his Hall of Fame
career.

Rondo's previous season high was 11.2 assists in
2010-11 when he finished second to Nash (11.4). Rondo averaged a full
assist more (12.2) on the road than at home last season, and his best
month was April, when he averaged 14.2 assists in 12 games. Rondo's
season-high was 20, coming twice. The first time was on March 4 in a 115-111 overtime win over the Knicks
in which Rondo added 18 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, becoming
just the third player to total at least 15 points, 20 assists and 15
rebounds in a single game. Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson are the
other two.

The second occurrence was
April 11 in a win over Atlanta in which Rondo had another triple-double
(10 points, 10 rebounds). Rondo closed the regular season with at least
10 assists in 24 straight games in which he played. It was the longest
streak in the NBA since Stockton did it in 29 straight in 1992. Rondo
also had double-digit assists in all but three playoff games (not
counting one he missed vs. the Hawks).

The second-favorite
to win the 2012-13 assists title is Brooklyn's Deron Williams at 7-2.
He finished fifth in the NBA last season at 8.7 per game. But the Nets
have been fortified this offseason with the addition of All-Star
shooting guard Joe Johnson from Atlanta, so that should boost Williams'
assists totals. Williams has never led the NBA in assists.

Next is Nash at 4-1, who joins the Lakers this year following a sign-and-trade deal during the offseason. Nash is fifth all-time
in total assists and led the NBA three straight seasons from 2004-05
through 2006-07 and then again in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Nash's career-high
was 11.6 per game with the Suns six years ago, but he could easily
exceed that this season playing alongside Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and
Dwight Howard.

The favorites are rounded out by the
Clippers' Chris Paul at 5-1. He was third in the NBA last season at 9.1
assists per game in his first season in L.A. While with the New Orleans
Hornets, Paul led the NBA in assists in that two-season gap when Nash
didn't. Paul's career-high of 11.56 per game was in 2007-08.

Minnesota's
Ricky Rubio is at 17-2 but would be higher if he weren't coming back
from a serious knee injury suffered last March. Rubio, who is hoping to
be back in December, averaged 8.2 assists as a rookie last season in 42
games before the injury.

Yardbarker

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