As always, it’s time for another edition of…
The Weekly Fives
Another week, another statistic! This week, we look at a statistic not as visible as points and rebounds. It’s a statistic that, at face value, isn’t respected very much, but when executed correctly, becomes something of total aesthetic beauty. If one were to talk to their non-basketball friends, they probably wouldn’t be able to identify exactly what an assist is. The most common definitions read something like this: “An assist is attributed to a player who passes the ball to a teammate in a way that leads to a score by field goal, meaning that he or she was “assisting” in the basket.” Although a bit of judgement is usually needed when assessing whether something is an assist or not, those that are highly-skilled in the assist category are typically those with excellent court vision, a knowledge of their teammates, and a keen judgement of how the defense is playing.
In the NBA, assists are essential to the success of a team. Great shooters cannot score without first having the ball in their hands. Every position on the court has their own roles, and although varying from team to team, the assist duties almost always fall on the point guard. Charged with leading the team on both ends of the court, the point guard on the court must facilitate where the ball goes, and ensure that it gets there in an appropriate and timely manner. Therefore, the best assist-men in the NBA have been point guards. In terms of career assist averages, only two players in NBA history have averaged more than 10 assists per game: Magic Johnson and John Stockton. These two Hall-of-Famers, known as the greatest point guards of all time, made sure to get the ball where it needed to go each and every time down the court. The single season record was set by Stockton, who recorded over 14 assists per game in the 1989-90 season. This year, the top-dog in that category so far has been Houston’s James Harden, who is averaging 11.6 APG! Two other players – John Wall and Russell Westbrook, also average double figure assists on the season.
In the NCAA, Maurice Watson Jr. is the assists per game leader. He goes to Creighton. That’s right, the leader of one of the three major statistical categories goes to a school right in our backyard! Mo Watson has had an excellent season, averaging 8.5 assists per game over the course of the season. Unfortunately, in a game in January, Watson was injured, and carted off during the contest. Later, it was identified that Watson had torn his ACL, and was therefore ruled out for the rest of the season. This sad setback for the Bluejays meant that they had to look for a new facilitator, and at first, they had a rough time without their point guard leader. They dropped two straight games after the injury, but at the moment this article is being written, the Jays look to be turning things around. Nebraska and Omaha have also enjoyed success in the assist category, with Tai Webster and Tra-Deon Hollins leading the way, respectively.
On the high school level, Noah Valasek of Riverside is leading the state, as the guard is averaging 6.8 APG so far this year. However, Omaha Central junior point guard Roman Behrens is not far behind, with 6.6 APG. As we get closer to the state playoffs, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in the assist category.
- James Harden, Houston Rockets (11.6 APG)
- Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (10.2 APG)
- John Wall, Washington Wizards (10.1 APG)
- Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (9.7 APG)
- LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (8.5 APG)
- Maurice Watson Jr., Creighton (8.5 APG)
- Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha (6.6 APG)
- Tai Webster, Nebraska (3.9 APG)
- Glynn Watson Jr., Nebraska (2.9 APG)
- Khyri Thomas, Creighton (2.7 APG)
- Noah Valasek, Riverside (6.8 APG)
- Roman Behrens, Omaha Central (6.6 APG)
- Logan Schuldt, Doniphan-Trumbull (6.0 APG)
- Riley Berner, Lutheran-Northeast (5.9 APG)
- Drew Brenner, Leyton (5.8 APG)
(Stats as of 1/28/17)
As always, Home Court Advantage is your place for basketball at all levels.
Senior App Associate, Nebraska
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, COJMC