Nate will have to step up after an injury to Rajon Rondo
The question of Rajon Rondo's worth to the Boston Celtics will undoubtedly be answered after Danny Ainge admitted that he believes the Celtics point guard will be out for weeks with a sprained ankle.
There has been an ongoing debate as to where Rondo fits in the realm of top point guards in the NBA. Some believe that he is a product of the "Big Three", while others argue that he has made a case for a "Big Four".
Rondo watched the C's take two out of three while sitting out with an injury earlier in the season. To that point, Rondo had led every game in assists, averaging double digits.
While it looks like Rondo will be out for more than three games this time around, it begs the question: just how much do the Celtics depend on Rondo's outstanding assist output?
Nate Robinson will likely be asked to step up his minutes in stead of the Celtics' leading All-Star vote getter. While Nate adds another outside scoring threat to the C's lineup, his dishing abilities are not even comparable.
Earlier this season, the Miami Heat showed the dangers of a team built around players who all need the ball in their hands. The Celtics stars have been able to put their selfish desires aside for the good of the team, but is that just because Rondo always gets them the ball in scoring positions?
What will happen if Ray Allen doesn't get the ball after fighting through screens to get open? How will KG be affected when he isn't getting his open looks in the paint? Will Paul Pierce revert back to the days of Antoine Walker and Tony Delk where he was forced to carry the team on his back?
Just how valuable is Rondo to the Celtics?
With Rondo's ability to make everyone around him better, these questions have remained purely conjecture.
A recent poll on ESPN has only 49 percent of the nation considering the Celtics an elite team without Rondo. This is simply a testament to his progress as a player. If the same question was asked three years ago, the 49 percent surely would have been significantly lower.
There is no question that the Celtics will miss the services of Rondo while he sits out with an ankle injury. The question remains whether or not the role players can step up in his absence.
With all the aging veterans on the Celtics, they are built to succeed even when hindered by injuries. Case in point, their playoff run without KG.
This will be the first time where they will be tested without the services of arguably the NBA's most prolific passer.
It will take more than just one role player to step up in Rondo's stead. With Delonte West out, it will be up to Nate and a variety of unproven ball handlers to get the ball in the hands of the stars.
Rondo's injury comes during a stretch where the Celtics are set to face struggling but talented teams in the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando magic as well as a home and away fixture with a rejuvenated Indiana Pacers team.
The true value of Rajon Rondo is sure to be revealed in the next two weeks.
Celtics fans are hoping that this turn of events will not be a setback for the team looking to continue their NBA leading winning streak.