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Team-by-Team Assist Distribution Graphs

Two weeks ago, I wrote a piece on the lack of ball movement in the Kings offense. The center of that piece was a series of graphs looking at the distribution and usage of assists for the Kings and how the size of that spread compared to teams with a higher Ast%, like the Jazz and Nuggets. Having received quite a bit of positive feedback about those graphs, I decided to create one for each team in the league.

The set-up here is slightly different than in the graphs from two weeks ago. For that piece I was using the size of the spread as a representation of each team’s ball movement, meaning the scale was the same for each and the graphs were team-focused in what they showed. For the graphs today I’ve adjusted the scale for each team, to create the most individual player detail. This means the graphs are player focused and the sizes can’t be used easily for team-by-team comparison. I also adjusted the data, so instead of looking at assists per 40 minutes, we’re now looking at those numbers on a per game basis.

For each graph the solid colored area marks the assists handed out by each player per game. The colored line shows the number of assisted field goals made per game, or what I’m calling ‘assists received.’ The graphs are ordered, in descending rows, by total assists per game.

The sortable table below covers player in the league, and shows their assists per game (assists given), assisted field goals made per game (assists received), and the ratio of assists given to assists received.

[table id=37 /]

A few details I found particularly interesting:

  • LaMarcus Aldridge leads the league in assisted field goals made per game, with 6.1. That matches very closely the number of assists that teammate Raymond Felton hands out per game, 6.8.
  • Steve Nash hands out 13 assists for every assisted field goal he makes himself, the highest ratio in the league.
  • The Knicks three primary point guards, Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby and Iman Shumpert, all average less than two assists for every assisted field goal they make themselves.
  • Of the 27 players who average at least 5 assists per game, the most even ratio belongs to Kobe Bryant who hands out 5.6 assists per game, and makes 5.2 assisted field goals per game.

One of the important things to take from these graphs is that there is no ideal template for passing in an efficient offense. The two most efficient offenses in the league are the Nuggets and Thunder. They rank 1st and 25th in assists per game. However, a lack of effective ball movement can be a symptom of other offensive problems. In these graphs we can gather some more information about why and how teams like the Knicks and Pacers have been struggling to score efficiently.

Please share any questions or observations in the comment section!

  • Myles

    What a bummer for Knicks fans. The team’s most productive passer is Carmelo Anthony. Their other max player, Amare Stoudemire, is seemingly completely dependent on a terrible point guard rotation. The flaws are large and layered for New York right now.

  • Juskimo

    I think the visible difference between the number of rings in each circle is a great visual comparison. While I am sure highest individual number of assists is not a perfect measure of how the teams rank, I bet it has a very strong correlation. In any case, it makes it easy to differentiate between the teams where no one is carrying the load (pistons and kings) and the teams with at least one person getting work done (phoenix).

  • Todd

    The 76ers graph resembles the Star of David lol, fitting…as they have been playing as unselfishly as any team in the league this season. I’m loving that graphic.

    • ilevy

      Thanks Todd. Some people sent me some ideas to improve them. I’m going to try and create another set in a month or two and will incorporate the historic ones at that point as well. I really appreciate the comments. How about Temple alumn, Lavoy Allen, doing work against Chicago last night?

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