Rondo started the season off brilliantly. Then dropped off around the time he got hurt. Hasn't regained his early season form yet. He needs to get back to that.
Yup, and this is one of the constant frustrations with Rondo's game.
Let me lay it out like this:
1. The skill that sets Rondo apart from other PGs is his combination of athleticism, hustle, and tenacity, particularly on defense and the boards. When Rondo is bringing this, he is as good as any PG in the league. Even though he isn't as good offensively as guys like Paul, Westbrook, and Irving, his ability to turn it up defensively and in the other phases of the game closes the gap on them.
2. When he loses his athleticism, hustle, or tenacity, he just has much less of an impact on the game, even if he is putting up nice stats. Even though he is an elite passer, his lack of elite shooting ability balances that out a bit, so he can't really match up with the other elite offensive PGs like Paul, Westbrook, Irving, etc. Those guys just are better offensive players overall, because of their more complete games.
3. He is a small guy playing in a league of giants. That generally makes injuries tough to avoid if he is playing aggressively, and throwing himself around. So, he has to choose between being as effective as he can be, or self preservation.
The upside to this is that he has learned enough self preservation to be able to turn it on for the playoffs. And that is when they really do need it most, and why he remains so hard to give up. But the downside is, its really frustrating to watch when its not the playoffs.