Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics is the best point guard in the NBA right now. Yes, he is at the head of a point guard class that includes Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Steve Nash, and Derrick Rose, among others.
In his first four games of the 2010-2011 NBA season, Rondo has already racked up 67 assists, an NBA record through four games. To put that in perspective, that's an average of just under 17 assists per game.
How did Rondo get to where he is today? God given athletic ability and a freakishly long wing span play a part in his stardom, but there are other factors that have motivated him and allowed him to emerge as the best point guard in the NBA.
Being Left Off the FIBA World Championship Team
The news that was reported over the summer was that Rondo withdrew from the FIBA team for "personal reasons".
But it's more likely that he withdrew because he had basically lost all of his playing time to Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. The feeling of coach Mike Krzyzewski and the USA coaching staff was that the team needed a point guard who could score in order to succeed in world tournaments.
For that, Celtics fans should shake Coach K's hand. The result for the Boston Celtics has been an incredibly motivated point guard who is out to prove teams absolutely can win with a pass-first point guard.
(Obviously, Coach K's strategy worked out just fine, as the USA team won the gold medal.)
Oh, and Rondo's been knocking down open jump shots at a higher percentage than usual this year.
The Rest of the Team is Healthy
Another factor in Rondo's great start to this season is the rest of the team's overall health. This year's Celtics team is deeper than last year's team that came within a Kendrick Perkins' knee injury of winning the NBA Finals.
This offseason, they've added Shaquille O'Neal, Delonte West, Jermaine O'Neal, Avery Bradley, and Luke Harangody. When Perkins comes back in late January, the Celtics should have the deepest team in the NBA, barring any major injuries.
Most notably, Kevin Garnett has looked like the KG of old, knocking down mid-range jump shots at a high percentage. Ray Allen will eventually start hitting a higher percentage of his three-pointers and Paul Pierce is being Paul Pierce.
What this means for Rondo is that his teammates are actually making their shots when Rondo delivers them the ball. It's much easier to rack up assists when you have healthy teammates who make shots.
Rondo will finish the 2010-2011 season as the best point guard in the league, leading the NBA in assists and placing in the top five in steals.
But Rondo's best asset is that he is able to do whatever his team needs him to do in order to win. If his team needs points, he'll drive the lane and put up 20-25 points. If his team needs him to have 15 assists, he'll put up 15 assists. If his team needs rebounds, he can even get in the paint and pick up eight or nine boards per game.
His flexibility, more than anything, is what makes Rajon Rondo the best point guard in the NBA.