We had a jam packed 27 game slate this weekend, resulting in numerous odd stats and trends. In particular I spent some time looking at Ast%.
This weekend I took a look to see if the percentage of baskets that were assisted on (AST%) was correlated at all with a team’s success in a given game. I preformed this study by recording the AST% for each team in each game this weekend (rounded to the nearest whole percentage point), keeping separate tallies for winning and losing teams. My hypothesis entering this experiment was that victorious teams would record a significantly higher AST%, because good passing leads to a better shot selection and thus a victory. As it turns out, the growing popularity of super teams affected the results more than I had expected, and the losing team actually recorded a slightly higher AST% for this weekend.
The losing team recorded a higher AST% in 15 of the 27 games this weekend, results that surprised me. The losing team averaged an assist on 59.6% of baskets, with a standard deviation of 9.9%. The standard deviation means that 68.2% of the time (based on this small sample size) we expect the losing team to assist on anywhere from 49.7 to 69.5 percent of their baskets. On the flip side, the winning team averaged an assist on 59.0% of baskets, with a standard deviation of 9.2%. Thus, we expect the winning team to assist on anywhere from 49.8 to 68.2 percent of their baskets.
Two games skewed the data from this study a bit, which makes me think that over the long season, winning teams would have a higher AST% than the losers. Rajon Rondo dropped 20 assists against the 76ers, part of a Celtics attack that assisted on a weekend high of 84% of buckets, but they lost. Considering that the Celtics had won all five games of Rondo’s previous 20 assist games, a loss with an AST% that high is very unlikely. Had the Celtics won this game, the AST% of winning and losing teams would have been identical. The lovable losers in Charlotte found a way to win a game, but the reason they win very few games is the same reason they skewed this study a bit. They rely on one on one playmaking, which rarely wins in the NBA. They assisted on a week low 38% of their baskets (29% lower than their opponent), but squeaked out a victory. More often than not, they lose a game with a ratio like that, and if they did, winning teams would have held a 1% lead in AST%.
Regardless of a few games that may have influenced the final results in an odd fashion, the findings remain the same: AST% is not correlated with the final result. This seems to indicate our movement away from a team oriented game (think the run and gun Suns or the rock solid Spurs) and toward a star based league that focuses more on individual greatness than team continuity.
Here’s a few other oddballs:
- The leading rebounder for the Magic tallied five boards, a number that Dwight Howard has eclipsed in all but seven games (minimum of 20 minutes played) in his eight year career.
- Marc Gasol, who ranks among the tops in Grizzles franchise history with field goal percentage over 52%, was held to a measly 6 points (3/12 shooting) in a winning effort against the Houston Rockets. After another weak performance (2 points) on Sunday, the Grizzles have now won eight straight games in which Gasol has scored fewer than 10 points.
- O.J. Mayo is flourishing in his new role this season, and has scored at least 20 points in each of his last four games. Not only is this the first such streak of his short career, it matches the number of 20+ games he had over the final two months of last season.
- Through five games (again, as of Friday) Omar Asik had more rebounds, despite playing fewer games, than Dwight Howard and DeMarcus Cousins. In fact, two all-star big men, Marc Gasol and Al Horford, combined had totaled two fewer rebounds than the Rockets center.
- It would take you all day to guess the two players (minimum of 20 minutes) who averaged at least 1.0 points per minute played: Andre Drummond and Corey Brewer. For context when it comes to Drummond: LeBron James didn’t accomplish this feat once in his rookie campaign. That isn’t meant to draw a parallel between the two, as they have different skill sets and different situations, but Drummond is ready to contribute in a big way.
- Rajon Rondo tallied his 30th straight game with double digit assists, a new NBA record. The Celtics point guard has attempted fewer field goals than assists handed out in 76.7% of those games.
- The Raptors scored seven points in the second quarter against the 76ers (in a game an unnamed Raptor fan attended). Toronto actually attempted more field goal attempts (20) than Philadelphia (18) in the second, but shot 10%. Both Jrue Holiday (8 points) and Nick Young (11) outscored the Raptors in this 12 minute stretch of incompetence.
- The Golden State Warrios and Denver Nuggets played an exciting back and forth double overtime game in which the Nuggets prevailed 107-101. In an NBA game where size and strength is increasing, this one was a throw back. Players that were 6’10″ or taller combined to make six of 18 shots, accounting for only 7.7% of the total points scored. In that Raptors/76ers game, Andre Bargani (7’0″) accounted for 13.1% of the total points scored.
- Roy Hibbert is being counted on more with Danny Granger out, but his production has yet to reflect that. He had his streak of 84 consecutive games without missing more than 10 field goals snapped when he misfired on 12 of his 15 attempts against the Wizards.
- Sticking in Indiana, my man Paul George is off to a predictable start. He has begun each of the last two seasons with a heightened focus on his outside game, knocking down 28 triples in the first seven games of last season and the first seven of this season. He seems to draw defenses out with this mindset early, and then attack the rim more as the season progresses, as he averaged 1.2 3PM after his hot start last season.
- I spent a lot of time beating up on the Bobcats (the term Bobkittens rings a bell), but they showed some signs of promise on this day. A duo that averaged 20.5 years of age scored 51 points, tallied 34% of the teams rebounds, handed out 47% of their assists, and accounted for 83% of the free throws made by the Bobcats. They still aren’t a good basketball team, but Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist give Michael Jordan and the city of Charlotte some hope.
- The Linsanity phenomena took over the NBA on February 4th last season, and while he has yet to regain that magic, he did do something on Saturday that he didn’t accomplish over that historic stretch. Against the Pistons, Lin logged 26 minutes and snapped his 27 game streak with at least one turnover. He averaged 4.4 turnovers over that span but has yet to record more than four turnovers in a game as a member of the Rockets.
- Matt touched on the growth of Larry Sanders, a fact that is becoming obvious this season. Over his last 16 games, Sanders is shooting 60% from the field, including five straight games with a FG% of at least 50 to open this season.
- The Suns and Jazz were both accustomed in the past to elite play-making point guards who would drop double-digit dime performances with regularity. Times, however, have changed, and never was that more obvious then when the two squared off in Phoenix. Only three players surpassed two assists and those three combined for 24 assists (65% of the games total assists) and 22 points.
- No team in the NBA relies more on their starting five than the Trail Blazers (four of their starters rank in the top 14 in the league in MPG), a fact that was reiterated when their starters accounted for 88.8% of their FG attempts against the Spurs. The bench simply isn’t counted on for anything, as they only provided 9.1% of the teams’ three point attempts and 0% of their free throws.
- Lou Williams attempted five triples against the Clippers, something he has done in 80% of games this season. Is he more than a volume scorer? His assists and minutes played have dropped every game this season, as his role may not be what we thought it would be.
- Josh Smith continues to shoot three-pointers, something that I will never understand. He has gone 22 consecutive games without making multiple triples and the Hawks have lost the last five games in which J-Smoove has buried a three. Neither team really shoots the ball well, which makes the fact that they attempted 40 threes and only 24 free throws very questionable.
- Kris Humphries recorded season highs in points (14) and rebounds (21) as the Nets swept a home and home with the Magic. Personal success has had very little to do with team success for Humphries, as this victory stretched his team’s record to 9-8 in games in which his point + rebound total is at least 30.The Nets were outscored by a point when Humphries was on the floor. He is good, but the better his numbers get, the odds of his team winning seem to decrease.
- Think the Magic are missing Ryan Anderson‘s range? As a team, they made one three pointer against the Nets: Anderson made at least two triples in just over 72% of his games last season.
- LeBron James played, but did not make a free throw, the first time he has done that in 135 games.
- Serge Ibaka swatted seven shots, giving him 216 over his last 53 games (4.1 per game). It has taken Dwight Howard, who has finished 1st, 1st, 1st, and 3rd in defensive player of the year voting over the last four seasons, one full season (82 games) to record the same number of blocked shots.