That’s the case for Rajon Rondo, who, with his modest 13-assist performance against the Wizards on Wednesday night, brought his season total to 164 for the young season. Utah’s Deron Williams is second with 121, and Chris Paul, with 102 dimes, is the only other player in the NBA with more than 100.
As radio play-by-play man Sean Grande pointed out on Twitter on Wednesday night, “Rondo could now go five straight games without [an assist] … and still lead the league.”
That is, in a word, silly. In another word, it could be historic.
Of course, if those numbers were being posted in losing efforts, there wouldn’t be much cause for celebration. But as it is, the Celtics are 9-2, scoring more than 102 points per game and rolling through the opening stretch of the season — even without Jermaine O’Neal and a limited Shaquille O’Neal.
Perhaps the most impressive stat from Wednesday’s game is that Rondo, in just 30 minutes on the floor, registered more assists than the entire Wizards team could in all 48 minutes (they had 12). That’s even more magnified by the fact that Wizards were playing against the Celtics’ second unit for much of the game.
It helps, of course, that Rondo’s teammates are hitting their shots. Ray Allen is hitting 45.3 percent of his 3’s, while Paul Pierce‘s mark sits at 47.5 percent. Kevin Garnett‘s hitting 52.1 percent of his shots, and the Big Fella has become Rondo’s newest alley-oop partner, scoring on 64.1 percent of his field-goal attempts.
At some point, Ray will have an off night. So will Pierce. Rondo’s assist total may be stuck in single digits (like it was in that loss to Cleveland in the second game of the season). It’d be really hard to believe he’ll maintain his average of 14.9 assists per game.
Yet, given how dominant he’s looked as the floor leader this year, it might be safe to assume he’ll smash the Celtics’ single-season record, which he set last year with 794. If he maintains his current pace, he’ll finish with 1,222 or so by season’s end. Sure, that’s probably impossible, but that single-season record list should have a new name inscribed alongside John Stockton and Isaiah Thomas by season’s end (Stockton averaged 14.2 assists per game while playing all 82 in 1990-91, setting the record at 1,164).
While gaudy numbers have never been the most important part of the Celtics since Garnett and Allen signed on in ’07, what Rondo is doing with the ball in his hands is no doubt the driving force behind the offense. As a result, they’re winning. It’s also probably not a coincidence that Paul’s and Williams’ teams are a combined 17-5 and all three teams are in first place in their respective divisions.
As to which of those three points guards is the best in the game, well, that debate won’t be ending any time soon. Paul may be the best all-around player, Williams may be more valuable to the Jazz, and you can even throw Derrick Rose into the conversation.
There should be no question, though, as to who is the king of the assist. That title, both now in November and by season’s end, should belong to Rondo.