Bucks Diary

Saturday, March 01, 2008

He's found it (the value of assists in basketball)

I've always thought assists, in and of themselves, had some sort of intrinsic value to basketball teams. I could never put my finger on what that value was, though. Now "The Arbitrarian" has used economic game theory, and statistical correlation, to find what I was looking for. (Notice the Bucks low assist totals.)

He has found that the higher a team's assist to field goals attempted, the higher the team's field goal percentage. Basically, a high degree of passing establishes a productive mindset in each player that leads to better overall shot selection which leads to a better team field goal percentage.

To borrow from that cloying children's phrase, "Sharing is Scoring". Or at least more efficient scoring. Basically, if each player believes that he is likely to receive the basketball when he has a high percentage scoring opportunity, he is more likely to pass the basketball rather than hoist up a lower percentage scoring opportunity.

If you want to witness this theory in action, put a Larry Bird or Magic Johnson video on your Netflix list. Or to witness it in reverse, play a pickup game with a gunner. You will be amazed at how quickly you yourself become a gunner as well.

Footnote: I have only one additional thought to add to the Arbitrarian's post. I have noticed that Bucks opponents often have high assist totals. I suspect it is because it is easier to pass the ball freely when you are unharrassed. I wonder if the correlation the Arbitrarian has discovered doesn't also have a defensive aspect to it.


At March 2, 2008 at 8:57 AM, Blogger otis said...

you say he got it
i say who got it
who are you talking about.

At March 3, 2008 at 4:24 PM, Anonymous J Rock said...

I find it interesting that the Bucks in 07-08 have an above average ast/fga ratio, shoot a slightly above average fg%, yet are a below average club on most nights.

That's were your suggested defensive side to the equation comes into play.

I think if the Bucks could find an every game starting power forward who could enforce the paint to some extent, understand positioning and motion enough to constantly get open close to the hoop for high percentage assisted shoots, while also being able to shoot the open 10-15ft jumper, and rebound at an above average rate (think 10pts/10rbs/1blks/55-60FG% - realistically Horford, maybe DJ White) - as well as an every game athletic swingman who can play shutdown defense and hit the open 3 pointer (maybe David Noel, maybe Brandon Rush) - the team would be in a lot better shape.

The next step after that would have to be moving Williams to 6th man or trading him, for a bigger point who can make the passes, hit the 3's and the backdoor cuts, and play solid defense (maybe Sessions, probably not).

At March 4, 2008 at 3:11 PM, Blogger TCW said...


Is that a hiaku?

J Rock,

I'm impressed to say the least. I can't say I disagree with anything you write. Are you sure, though, that the Bucks shoot an above average FG%? I thought their effective FG was below average. Could be wrong though


At March 5, 2008 at 6:50 AM, Anonymous J Rock said...

I was just going off the data in that link, T. I wouldn't be surprised if their FG% was below average.

Just from observation, it seems Williams and Redd are the only guys who can score every game efficiently and consistantly.

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