New Orleans Pelicans point guard Rajon Rondo recorded 8 assists in 14 minutes in his first game with the team as a starter after his injury.
Rondo has a unique way of making challenging plays look easy and also tends to make the most out of a bad opportunity. For example, check out that awkward assist to teammate Jrue Holiday against the Raptors on Wednesday evening.
New Orleans is so far not rushing him back into full action but they have outscored opponents by 12.6 points per 100 possessions during his limited action, via NBA.com.
Sure, it’s a small sample size but after two appearances, Rondo leads all players in the league with a 52.6 assist percentage even though his usage rate is just 13.9 percent. During the most recent two games of the season for all teams, this trails just James Harden.
Rondo is able to execute so well because of how often he passes the ball. Ben Simmons currently leads all players in total passes, via NBA.com. He averages 76.7 passes per 36 minutes. Rondo, meanwhile, is on pace to record a ridiculous 94.7 passes per 36 minutes.
The way he plays keeps opposing players guessing, unable to focus on who will actually take the shot for New Orleans. He somehow manages to achieve this without requiring the ball in his hands very often.
According to Cleaning the Glass, his assist percentage is 2.39 times higher than his 13.9 percent usage rate. Let’s put that into context. Since 2000, the only player to have an assist rate above 51.6 percent with a usage rate below 20.7 percent is Steve Nash, per Basketball-Reference.
Another aspect of the game where Rondo will immediately help the Pelicans is fast-break opportunities. The Pelicans run a transition offense on 16.1 percent of plays, per NBA.com. This ranks in the Top 10 among all teams in the league.
Yet they currently rank No. 23 overall in points per possession on fast breaks. With him slowly back in action, expect an increase in both highlights and wins in New Orleans.