I think that Scal's quote really cuts to the heart of the Rondo conundrum:
Brian Scalabrine: “There’s no one in the history of our game like him. He’s the the most interesting player I’ve ever known. How does someone who is 6-foot-1 get 18 rebounds? How does someone who doesn’t run fast break get 20 assists? How does someone who never shoots get everybody open? We cannot begin to understand how he does it.”
IMO not only can people not understand how a player that defenses give so much room to can run an offense so successfully, they refuse to believe that what they're seeing is more than an aberration or a perfect storm of unique circumstances. First it was that anyone could get that many assists playing with HOFers (until they stopped playing at that level). Then it was that he could only get his assists if he was surrounded by great shooters (until Bradley replaced Ray). Now it's that he spends games hunting for assists and trying to pad his stats (because, frankly, it's the only explanation left).
The truth of the matter is that he's just that good. Not only is he able to find people for open shots despite the way the team's guarded, he's able to find them at a terrific rate. This is the 3rd year in a row that he's averaged 11+ assists. The only other player to ever do that by the same age was Magic. The only other players who ever averaged 11 assists 3 times in their first 7 years were Stockton (4 times), Magic and Oscar. The fact that he's able to do that when he's not on a fast break team and opponents are playing him for the pass and not the shot is very impressive.
No doubt that Rondo is a uniquely talented player. So is Josh Smith. So is Al Jefferson. So is Jamal Crawford, etc. Doubts persist about what those talents do for win loss record of their respective teams. How about Rondo?
By the way, there are a number of areas (assists, triple doubles and rebounds for a pg in the playoffs, individual games, defense) where there Rondo's done things or put up stats that few in the game have. Are you saying that players like Jamal Crawford regularly do things that very few players in league history have done? What talents do they possess that are historically unique?
You're marveling at Rondo's individual statistics. I don't care about them. I'm interested in the performance of the team, and whether Rondo's participation positively effects the outcome of games.
I'm not marveling at Rondo's individual stats, just claiming that they're significant enough that they can't just be dismissed out of hand.
The Celtics offensive rank has gone down every year since 2008. I won't blame this exclusively on Rondo, but I also won't stick my head in the sand and pretend it has nothing to do with him.
I don't stick my head in the sand and pretend our offense has nothing to do with Rondo either. But I don't ignore obvious things about the rest of the roster. Obvious differences are that we don't have the three point shooters that we did, we don't have players that take the ball to the hoop like we used to, and we don't go after offensive rebounds like we used to. I don't see how you'd blame Rondo for any of these but it's still possible that you do.
Even more glaring is the change in our scoring leaders. Paul Pierce is nowhere near the offensive player he was in 2008. Kevin Garnett is nowhere near the offensive player he was in 2008. Bradley and Lee aren't any closer to 2008 Ray as scorers than Rondo is to Irving. Again, the drop in scoring ability among our leading scorers would have a dramatic effect on our offense. Again, I wouldn't blame this on Rondo although you might.
When you consider all of the reasons our offense should be worse than in 2008 I'd say that Rondo's role, especially before mid-December or so, was to keep our offense good enough that we could still compete with other top teams.
Meanwhile, I believe there's enough statistical and visual evidence regarding the effect of him not being on the floor to wonder what the player could do to improve his effect on his team.
On this we completely agree. You're claiming Rondo doesn't contribute to the offense because we're as good without him as we are with him. Fine. In the 10-11 season our offense was 10 ppp better when he played, in the 2011 playoffs it was 17 ppp better, In the 11-12 season we were 7 points better, in the 2012 playoffs we were 11 points better. The visual evidence obviously confirmed this. Again, I'd claim that 2 full seasons and 2 full playoffs are more meaningful than a stretch of bad play in the middle of a season when 3 of our top offensive players were struggling with injuries.