Rajon Rondo is the leader of the Boston Celtics. Like it or not, the fiery point guard is not only the floor general, but also the glue that holds the team together. That being said, Rondo must become the Celtics' leading scorer for the team to contend.
Yes, the man who only averaged 11.9 points last season needs to be the top scorer on a team with the scoring machine known as Paul Pierce.
We all know that Rondo does a fantastic job with running the show. He is one of the best point guards in the NBA, specializing in assists. In fact, he recently ended a 37-game double-digit assists per game streak, tying with John Stockton for second in NBA history. Rondo's assists steadily increase every season, and he's already averaging 12.8 this year.
His scoring, on the other hand, has been shaky over the years. It wouldn't be a surprise if, "If only Rondo could shoot," is one of the most popular phrases among NBA fans.
However, Rondo can shoot. His efficiency from the field has improved since last season, but he's been using it to build his assists, not his points.
Let me explain. According to HoopData.com, Rondo is shooting 37.5 percent from 10-15 feet, and 49 percent from 16-23 feet so far this season. Although 15 games is a small sample size, his numbers have already jumped significantly since last year.
Rondo's ability to hit a mid-range jumper has changed the way the Celtics' offense works. When Boston runs a pick-and-roll, teams have almost always gone under the screen, which makes Rondo's first option a jump shot. However, due to Rondo's ability to shoot the ball, teams are not sagging off of him like they used to. He already has excellent court vision, but this gives him better looks to find an open teammate. That's why his assists are so high.
In other words, Rondo can shoot and opposing teams are aware of this.
If the Celtics want to be a top contender, their starting point guard has to start shooting the ball more. He is 84-of-165 from the field and shooting 51 percent this season. That's higher than his career average of 48 percent from the field. He's currently attempting 11 shots per game, but that number has to increase.
Of course, a good portion of Rondo's scoring comes from layups as well. He makes 64.1 percent of his shots from the rim, like this one:
Rondo has led the Celtics in scoring twice this season, and although both efforts resulted in losses, he needs to build on making it a habit. There is no doubt that Rondo's crafty assists are getting his older teammates easier shots. However, if he can find an even balance between points and assists, the team will be better all around.
Pierce currently leads the team in scoring with 19.1 points per game, followed by Kevin Garnett with 15.7 points. Rondo sits in third with 13.2 points per game. It's not an unattainable goal for Rondo to become the C's leading scorer, especially as the secondary unit continues to improve. Right now, Pierce and Garnett are playing so many minutes because Doc Rivers can't afford to rest them as much as he would like to. If their minutes eventually drop, so will their points. On the other hand, Rondo's playing time isn't decreasing any time soon.
It's not necessary for the point guard to lead the team in scoring. Deron Williams is second on the Brooklyn Nets with 16.4 points, while Chris Paul is third on the Clippers with 16.1 points. However, the Celtics are different. If Rondo can alleviate some of the pressure off his older costars by scoring more points, he should do so.
Ultimately, the Celtics will only go as far as their star point guard takes them.
All stats used in this article are accurate as of Dec. 6, 2012.