Rajon Rondo is considered to be one of the best point guards in the NBA, but his inefficient jump shot and lack of consistency over the last few seasons have caused some to question his ability to anchor a team.
However, this season Rondo is off to a significantly better start in both categories. He is on pace to have a career year in points, assists and field-goal percentage. Rondo's game appears to have improved, and the evolution in his game is allowing the All-Star-caliber point guard to become a much more consistent threat for the Boston Celtics.
As the Celtics prepared themselves to take a step away from the Big Three era, Rondo was declared the leader of the team and their most important player. Although Boston is not quite off to the start it envisioned, Rondo has for the most part (except for the skirmish with Kris Humphries) stepped up and filled the role of a leader on the court.
Rondo, who is shooting 51.6 percent from the field, is averaging 13.8 points, 12.3 assists, five rebounds and two steals per game while making a strong case that he is best point guard in the league. His increased scoring has been a welcome development, as Rondo has often been able to get the C's back in the game when the rest of his teammates are going through a scoring drought.
He is consistently showing confidence in his jump shot, bringing his mid-range field-goal percentage from 39 percent to an impressive 54 percent this year.
In fact, Rondo is shooting so well from mid-range that his field-goal percentage reported by NBA.com is not only better than Russell Westbrook's 34 percent, but it has surpassed Chris Paul's 46 percent. He also leads the league in field-goal percentage for guards this season, which is a difficult task when you are up against the likes of Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker and Kobe Bryant.
In addition, data from NBA.com his field-goal percentage from in the paint has increased from 29 percent to 48 percent , and he has also increased his field goal percentage in the restricted area to 59 percent. This is a great sign that Rondo is continuing to improve, as he is even showing more efficiency in the areas he already had great strength.
These increases in field-goal percentage along with a slight increase in the number of attempts he takes is forcing opposing teams to look at him as not only a facilitator but also a tough scoring threat.
Rondo has become the Celtics' most valuable asset on offense, as he accounts for 49 percent of the field goals scored per game calculated by the assists and field goal statistics reported on ESPN. This number is off the charts for star-level point guards and greatly explains the Celtics' general inability to get things going when Rondo isn't on the floor.
Although Rondo has greatly improved in a few areas, he still has a few that are in need of improvement. He is shooting 25 percent from behind the three-point line, which is not impressive even though it is similar to what he has averaged for his career. The surprising part is his increased willingness to shoot from deep, attempting 1.5 times a game.
He only averaged more than one three-point attempt per game in the 2009 season.
Further, Rondo's 63.5 free-throw percentage is only slightly better than his career average, which is not good enough for a point guard of his caliber. It is interesting that the improvement in his jump shot has not translated into better shooting from the line. But perhaps he can find a way to improve this as well as the season continues.
Overall, the Celtics have received exactly what they were hoping to see from Rondo this season, as he has evolved into one of the most difficult guards to contain.
Rondo's development into a legitimate scoring threat will allow the team to have a different offense as the season continues. It is likely that the Celtics will only get better as they determine the correct rotation to work alongside their talented point guard.
Let's hope Rondo will continue to build off his solid start and emerge as the NBA's best point guard by season's end.