Posted by: Kingsguru21 | October 31, 2009

The fickleness of an assist

I thought I would write about how fickle assists can be, and since it’s been mentioned that Tyreke Evans, the Kings rookie PG, only had 2 assists, I’d thought I’d illustrate why. Some of this is just to show how assists work in a given game, and in the NBA. Most of my opinion ranks around this being not that big of a deal in part because a lot of assists come off made Jump Shots. Awhile ago, TZ had a great a breakdown of do assists really matter. I’d like to highlight a point he made off his Ballhype article:

There’s no measureable relationship between a team’s rate of assists and a team’s offensive performance. (For the statgeeks, the correlation for the past four seasons is -0.011.) There’s only a tiny correlation between ast/FGM and effective FG% (0.061). It’s the same for ast/FGM and two-point FG% (0.065). You can be good at offense and a good passing team (Utah, Phoenix), but you can also be bad at offense and a good passing team (New Jersey, the Clippers). You can be good at offense without racking up assists (Golden State, Orlando). The two concepts, on a leaguewide basis, are not dependent on each other.

Just so you’re aware, I’m taking some of the text from the ESPN Play by Play so I don’t have to type all of this stuff as I’m watching the game. (I”m trying to do this in under 5 hours.) I’m only going to do the first half, and the Kings in this context. (I’m very positive if I had nothing to do all day that I could do both the Hornets, and that I could illustrate how defense could force a team to have less assists. Not that I’d be the first to point this out; just the latest.) So, here we go.

At the 11:15 mark, Sean May makes an alley oop pass to Desmond Mason who finishes. (That was one of May’s 2 assists.)

At the 10:53 mark, Evans penetrates to the basket and drops off a pass to Sean May. May nearly makes the basket and gets 2 FT’s. (May missed 1 of the FT’s.)

At the 10:26 mark Jason Thompson makes a jumper. This is one of Evans’ 2 assists.

At the 9:56 mark Martin makes a 3 pointer, and Jason Thompson assists.

At the 9:30 mark, Kevin Martin misses a 3 ball. He’s wide open because 2 New Orlean’s defenders collapse on Tyreke Evans. (Sean May also tries to make a pass to Martin backdoor that ends up hitting the rim.)

At the 8:47 mark, Evans hits a 17 footer. JT assists.

At the 7:13 mark Sean May makes 17-foot jumper (Kevin Martin assists).

At the 6:24 mark Kevin Martin misses a 25-foot three ball. That miss came off a transition pass from Evans.

At the 4:11 mark Omri Casspi misses 18-foot jumper. That was off a basic Kevin Martin pass.

At the 3:59 mark Kevin Martin misses a layup. This would have been another assist for Hawes. (He had 1 for the game.)

At the 3:19 mark Beno Udrih misses a 23-foot three point jumper. That was off a Kevin Martin pass that would have gotten him an assist.

At the 3:02 mark Andres Nocioni makes 25-foot three point jumper. (Sean May assists)

At the 2:30 mark Kevin Martin makes layup. (Beno Udrih assists) This was the beautiful give & go. Unfortunately, it was probably the last time Speed made a layup all night.

At the 1:50 mark Kevin Martin misses a 25-foot three ball. That was off a Beno Udrih pass.

At the 1:07 Sean May gets a dunk (Andres Nocioni assists). (This was off a nice jump pass from Noc. May also took it up strong which I liked.)

At the 0:44 mark Jon Brockman makes a layup (Beno Udrih assists). Excellent bounce pass by Udrih here.

At the end of the 1st qtr Andres Nocioni misses a 23-foot three point jumper. This was also off an Udrih pass in which he penetrated to draw defenders, including Noc’s, to him.

2nd qtr

At the 11:44 mark Andres Nocioni makes a 25-foot three point jumper (Beno Udrih assists). Beno did nothing special except recognize that Nocioni had run off several screens. Good recognition on each man’s part.

At the 10:44 mark Jason Thompson misses a 6-foot jumper. (This didn’t seem important for me to pay attention to.)

At the 10:15 mark Andres Nocioni makes a 22-foot jumper (Jason Thompson assists). Nothing great about that, but that’s quality NBA players playing well together.

At the 9:38 mark Omri Casspi misses a 7-foot jumper. That was off a JT pass. (I’m not sure JT would have been credited with an assist, but I think he probably would have.)

At the 8:48 mark Spencer Hawes misses a 24-foot three point jumper. (Off a Martin pass.)

At the 8:23 mark Andres Nocioni makes a driving layup. (Martin hit Nocioni in transition and then Noc attacked. That was better than any assist Martin’s recorded in terms of the pass.)

At the 7:28 mark Spencer Hawes misses an 8-foot jumper. This is off an Evans pass that Hawes bobbled. Then he missed the J to boot.

At the 7:03 mark Kevin Martin makes 9-foot running jumper. Kevin Martin drove from the 3 point line. There wasn’t an assist opportunity there.

At the 6:30 mark Jason Thompson makes a layup. Kevin Martin made the post feed, but mostly that was JT backing Emeka Okafor down.

At the 6:16 mark Kevin Martin misses a 25-foot three point jumper. (That would have been an assist for Evans had Speed made it.)

At the 5:47 mark Jason Thompson makes an 8-foot jumper (Kevin Martin assists). (This was barely seen on the Hornets feed, but Martin made a nice pass into the post for JT. Nice catch on JT’s part too.)

At the 5:13 mark Jason Thompson misses a 13-foot jumper. This was off a Martin pass, but really there wasn’t any assist opportunity.

At the 4:48 mark Emeka Okafor blocks Spencer Hawes’s layup, then Kevin Martin grabs the offensive rebound & at the 4:43 mark Kevin Martin makes a jumper. When Speed was in rhythm, he scored last night. Unfortunately, he was rarely in rhythm. However, more importantly, had Hawes made the original layup Evans would have an assist. He made a nice post entry to Hawes. Unfortunately Okafor, as we know, managed to swat it away.

At the 4:26 mark Omri Casspi misses a 24-foot three point jumper. This was off a Martin pass.

At the 4:03 mark Tyreke Evans misses a jumper. (He dribbled up the court and missed. He also fouled Chris Paul immediately afterwards.)

At the 2:38 mark Omri Casspi makes a 21-foot jumper. (This was essentially set up by a Brockman screen.)

At the 2:03 mark Omri Casspi makes a driving layup (Jason Thompson assists). That was a very generous assist given out by the New Orleans scorekeeper. Casspi drove to the basket from the 3 point line.

At the 1:49 mark Jason Thompson misses a 6-foot jumper. This is off a Kevin Martin pass. Brockman then grabs the offensive rebound and scores.

At the 0:37 mark Kevin Martin misses a 15-foot jumper. (Udrih passed the ball, but I’m not sure if he would have gotten an assist or not.)

At the 0:37 mark Jon Brockman misses free throw 1 of 2. (He misses the 2nd FT too.) This was because the Hornets fouled Brockman off the ball.

At the 0:14 mark Andres Nocioni makes free throw 1 of 2. Noc got those FT attempts off driving to the basket. The original pass came from Beno, but there was no real assist opportunity.


I hope I’ve illustrated that “assists” themselves are not the same as ball movement. I like assists, but clearly the art of a good pass is not very well illustrated by the word “assist”. The way it is defined in the rulebook is a bit vague, and worse the way scorekeeper’s score the assist is even worse.

But, make no mistake. Last night the Kings got 21 assists, and the Hornets 16 assists. If anything this first half illustrated, it showed how many assists Kevin Martin was screwed out of. (Beno Udrih as well.) Unfortunately, Martin is going to be lambasted for missing 29 shots, but frankly with his teammates not making these shots, I can’t really blame Martin for taking shots that, for the most part, he is capable of making in most circumstances.

In case you were wondering, Martin had 12 shot attempts last night in the 1st half. As the game wore on, the Hornets tried to make Speed beat them, and he just didn’t have the shot (or the FT’s really) to ever get going.

There is growth and potential for this team to improve. I hope anybody reading this will recognize that. Better, I saw Kevin Martin trying to facilitate offense for his teammates, and the shots just didn’t go down. This team is a work in progress, and hopefully there will be less of these games as the season goes on.

Game preview coming in awhile for those who care.



  1. Can’t wait!

    • Heh. I hope you meant the preview.

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