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Rebound & Rant: Assists Edition

Ken "K-Train" Crites

An early RotoWire contributor from back in the 90's, K-Train returns with the grace of Gheorghe Muresan and the wisdom of Joe Gibbs. Tweet him @KenCrites or e-mail him at Ken won the FSWA 2014 Humor Article Of The Year award. He's also the 2015-16 champion of the prestigious RW NBA Keeper League. Ken still owns a RotoNews shirt.

Is the assist becoming a ridiculous NBA statistic? It shouldnít be. In my opinion, if a shooter scores off the dribble, the earlier passer shouldnít receive an assist. But that is not the official definition.

My concern was peaked by Giri Nathan over at Deadspin. Check out these ridiculous ďassistĒ videos and answer Giriís question. Iíd say the answer is easy. Those are not assists. The Frank Ntilikina ďassistĒ is the worst. Go check it out, Iíll wait.

Hey, thanks for coming back (I really canít afford to lose any readers). Thanks, Giri, your article has inspired the Assists Edition of the R&R, where like those statistician calls, many of these observations will be questionable.

Lonzo Ball is NO Ricky Rubio
Compare these per game stats:

Player A: 10.6 points, 8.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 2.2 steals, 3.2 TOís, 40% FG%

Player B: 9.3 points, 7.1 assists, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 2.6 TOís, 40% FG%

I guess my headline took away some of the mystery. Player A is Ricky Rubioís rookie season stats from his first year in Minnesota (he played 41 games). Player B is Lonzo Ballís stats through 28 games with the Lakes. Unless Iím desperate for rebounds, Iíve got to give the nod to Rubio.

Many, many people have compared Ballís game to Rubio, because frankly neither guy can shoot. And before you say ďwait, Rubio was olderĒ, thatís not true. Rubio was only one year older than Lonzo during his first NBA season. Iíll give Ball credit for one thing, though: heís shot over 46% over his last five games. Thatís a big improvement after shooting only 31% over his first 23 games.

Magic and Isiah Reunion
Itís always tough to watch grown men cry. If you missed it, two of the all-time great point guards had a reunion on NBA TV last night. Hereís where the tears really started flowing:

Lots of rumors swirling about why those two fought with each other. For those of you caught up in the recent political stuff regarding Jemele Hill, remember that sheís a darn good reporter, as demonstrated by her 2009 piece on Magic and Isiah, which explains the diva guard feud rather well. For any readers who have wept over the R&R, I apologize.

Quick Question: Who Leads the Celtics in Assists?
Donít lie, you think its Kyrie Irving. Well, thatís wrong. Al Horford leads with 5.5 dimes per game, a career high pace thatís in improvement over last yearís career-high 5.0 pace. Big Al is blossoming during his second year in Coach Stevensí system. And Horford clearly enjoys playing with fellow star Kyrie Irving. The two have an obvious on-court chemistry.

OK, so Irving is second, right? Wrong. Marcus Smart is second with 5.2 assists per game. Irving is third with 4.9 dishes per contest. And I think Stevens is fine with this. He wants the entire team to move the ball, not just the point guard. With Irving being Bostonís best scorer, the other Celtics should get him the damn ball. Itís working out well.

Oh, and notice that Horford has also gathered 7.9 rebounds per game this season, halting a three year decline in boards. Big Al is quietly having a great season.

Is Ben Simmons Magic Johnson?
Compare these per game stats:

Player A: 18.0 points, 7.3 assists, 7.7 rebounds, 2.4 steals, 4.0 TOís, 53% FG%

Player B: 17.2 points, 7.9 assists, 9.1 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 3.9 TOís, 51% FG%

Player A is Magic Johnsonís rookie season (1979-80). Player B is Ben Simmons through 29 games. Holy smokes, forget about Ball and Rubio! Unfortunately, the two rookies have one very large difference. Rookie Magic drained 81% of his free throws. Simmons is a charity stripe disaster, making only 51% of his free throws. Ugh. Iím not a huge fan of this Sixers squad, and one reason is who should handle the ball during crunch time? Not Simmons Ė Iíd go ďHack-a-SimmonsĒ if Iím the opposing coach.

If youíve got some spare time (and clearly you do if youíve made it this far), here are the NBAís best assists from last month:

Well, thatís it for my assists edition. This fantasy train wreck has hit the END OF THE LINE! CHOO-CHOO!

(BTW, if you enjoy this little column, give our Friday NBA podcast a try, where I usually join Shannon McKeown and D.J. Trainor for some epic NBA conversations.)
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