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.