Through three games, Rondo has 37 assists and five turnovers. He has taken 16 shots, which is six fewer than Kendrick Perkins [stats] (and he’s played 23 more minutes than the center). On Friday against the Bulls, Rondo had 16 assists and took just two shots, saying yesterday it was the first time he could remember not attempting a layup in an NBA game. He’s currently the C’s eighth-leading scorer.
My first thought is that a better than 7-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio is rather divine. My second thought is that they don't need him to score. When they do, he does (think last year's first round series versus the Bulls). This summer I asked hundreds of Laker fans what the difference was between 1986 and 1987. Not many could answer the question, other than to say in 1987 the Lakers won the championship, while in 1986 they didn't.
One good answer was that the Lakers played better defense. True enough. A better answer was that Magic Johnson cranked it up a notch.
1987 marked Magic's first MVP campaign. He went from averaging 18, 16, 18, and 18 points per game during the four previous seasons to averaging almost 24 PPG in 1987. Kareem was slowing down. Byron Scott was still a question mark. AC Green had just been inserted into the starting line-up. Mychal Thompson wasn't acquired until mid-season. So Pat Riley and Magic sat down before the season began and discussed what it would take for the Lakers to get back to the top.
"You need to do more of everything," Riley told #32 "especially scoring." Magic complied. He hoisted up 400 more shots in the 1986-87 NBA season than he did the year before, while still shooting .522 from the field. No less impressive, his assists-per-game dropped only a smidgen, from 12.6 in 1986 to 12.2 in 1987.
We don't need Rajon Rondo to score buckets this year. He is surrounded by one of the best shooting teams I can remember. If he can dominate a game like he did the other night, who cares how many points he scores? Better yet, does anyone remember how many points he scored in game 6 of the NBA Finals? Probably not, but most observers consider him to be the MVP of that game.
So Rajon has the luxury of only shooting the J when he's confident, and only driving to the hoop when it's necessary to open up shot opportunities for others. He can selectively assert himself on the offensive end this year, as a preview of what might become a reality a few years down the road when he's surrounded by less talent.