By a number of metrics, Rondo is having his best season yet. That makes sense, because Rondo is just about to enter his prime. Barring injury, it's safe to assume that Rondo will play at this level for another few years, if not longer.
If that's the case, though, how do we reconcile that with how poorly the team has been playing? As clear as it is that Rondo is having his best (statistical) season yet, it's also clear the the Celtics are at best a somewhat above average team. Perhaps twenty three games is a small sample, but it isn't THAT small.
The Celtics are neither elite offensively nor elite defensively. Aside from offensive rebounding, they aren't terrible at anything, but they don't have a strong identity in any particular area. That's translated to a record that's barely above .500, and no sustained stretches of excellence (they haven't won more than three games in a row yet this season).
Rondo is arguably one of the best 10-15 players in the league, and over the past few years he's really vindicated himself against the people who have doubted his ability to rise up and carry the team in key moments, particular in the playoffs. The Celtics have a key roster-building advantage over a number of teams because they have a player like Rondo to build around.
But in light of how the team has played so far this year, even as Rondo has been so productive, I can't help but question the idea that putting a decent, talented supporting cast around Rondo will necessarily result in a 45-50 win season and a solid chance at being competitive in the playoffs. The roster around Rondo this year is either far less talented than it appears to be on paper, terribly mismatched, or severely underperforming. If either of the latter two options is the case, then despite Rondo's performance, he has failed to elevate the players around him to a high level of play.
In this respect his season differs from seasons that great passing point guards have had in the past, when guys like Jason Kidd and Steve Nash have turned teams mostly comprised of specialists and role players into highly efficient units (either on defense or offense, if not both). Heck, Jason Kidd seems to be having an almost inexplicable positive effect on the Knicks this season even at age 40. So far there isn't much evidence that Rondo's prolific passing is making his teammates better.
So does that mean Rondo should be traded? I'm not suggesting that, although I'm sure considering it much more than I would have at the start of the season. For one thing, Rondo's value will never be higher than it is now. He still has a couple years left on his contract, and once he hits his next deal, he'll go from being a major bargain (at $11 million per year), to a fairly paid max or near-max player ($15 million per year +++). On the other hand, unless there's a superstar or great young player available for trade, it would be hard to get any kind of fair value for Rondo unless the goal of a trade was simply to bottom out and play the lottery, which is obviously a very unappealing prospect.