A few days ago, Mike wrote an excellent piece called John Wall's Missed Assist Tracker where he tracked how many "missed assists" Wall had accumulated so far this year. As Mike said in his opening:
The prevailing argument by many Washington Wizards fans and people who follow the league is that John Wall's bad teammates cost him assist opportunities by missing shots.
The article raised several great questions. Would Wall get more assists with better teammates? How does Wall stack up with other top point guards? Steadyhand had a great point:
This is great stuff, but unfortunately it doesn't really tell us anything without something to compare it to. Maybe Nash has 500 misses, because a certain percentage of misses just happen. I know it's a ton of work, but someone will need to do this for at least one other player in order for it to mean anything.
And he's right. So I decided to do the same analysis on Rajon Rondo.
(Before I begin: kudos to MySynergySports.com. This incredible service allows me to watch every play for every game for the entire year. By the way, if you don't have it, you may want to consider getting it. MySynergySports is quite frankly the best tool I've ever seen for analyzing basketball plays, teams and players. They have super box scores with stats linked to actual video of the plays. You can scout team and player tendencies, types of plays, strengths, weaknesses, etc. Analytics at it's finest. Without it, providing these kind of articles would be all but impossible).
While watching Rondo, play after play, I was struck by how similar he is to John Wall in the half court. The way Rondo delivers passes to Ray Allen coming off screens or to Paul Pierce on a catch-and-shoot at the three-point line are very similar to how John Wall passes to Young coming off screens and to Rashard Lewis on a catch-and-shoot 3's. Obviously Rondo is MUCH better in the pick-and-roll game than Wall, but a lot of that has to do with Rondo's teammates being better pick setters and being better at moving to the right area and creating passing lanes.
- To keep things on an even playing field I watched every missed shot, but I only tracked potential assists on the same type of plays Mike did (spot-ups, pick and rolls where the roll man took the shot, attempts off a screen, cut or dribble-handoff and transition plays).
- I did not track lost assists on isolations or post-ups; however, I can say with some certainty that there were very few assist opportunities on those type plays, certainly not enough to skew the numbers in any significant way.
- Like Mike, I included some plays in which the player committed a turnover, but I tried be very cautious. This is rather subjective, but if Rondo threw a pass to a teammate under the basket in a position to get a great shot, and his teammate fumbled the ball out of bounds, I gave Rondo the missed assist. But again, it had to be very obvious that the play would have ended in a decent shot.
- I did not include plays where Rondo's pass led to a foul. I didn't include plays where the pass ended in a blocked shot.
- In other words: keep in mind that we're talking about two different people tracking something that's a bit subjective.
Anyway, here's the spreadsheet.
Rondo's missed assists per game number is 7.6, which is far lower than Wall's 9.8 by a wide margin. If you add Rondo's assists with his missed assists (9.6 + 7.6 = 17.2) it's almost exactly the same number of assist opportunities as John Wall (7.6 + 9.8 = 17.4). Rondo's Boston teammates convert 55.9 percent of his assist chances into actual assists, while Wall's Wizards convert only 43.9 percent of his chances.
Granted, this is still a small sample size (two Point Guards for a total of around 60 games), but I believe it starts to show some validity to the argument that Wall would garner more assists with better teammates that can make a higher percentage of shots.
On with the discussion...
(By the way, I intend to look at several other Point Guards (Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose and Chris Paul) and hopefully keep ongoing trackers on all of them. It's mind-numbing work, but I think it's also a rare opportunity to look at a new statistic, and generate some interesting and stimulating conversation).