Devin Jordan

SportVU: 100 Players’ Future Assist Totals

Chris Paul

This article will look at the implications of the new SportVU stats that the NBA has released to the public, and will apply the limited data we have from SportVU to look at the sustainability of assist totals for players this year (SportVU data in this post has been taken up to 11/19).

First off, let me say that the SportVU data is remarkable, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you should check it out. What is even more remarkable is that the NBA, unlike other professional sports leagues, has chosen to embrace the analytic movement, and display the most advanced information the league has to offer on their own league website.

Unlike the MLB and NFL, where advanced analysis lives in a far off corner of the Internet, the NBA has chosen give voice to progressive thought and new perspectives. Kudos NBA.

Enough on that.

The main purpose of this article is to look at one metric in a particular that SportVU has produced:  assist opportunities per game.

Assist opportunities per game (AOPG) is defined as “Potential assists: Passes by a player to a teammate in which the teammate attempts a shot, and if made, would be an assist.” AOPG allows for a better idea of a player’s true talent when it comes to his play-making ability. Not all players have the opportunity to be on the Heat who shoot 52% from the field, which allows their players to rack up assist totals, as opposed to Kyrie Irving’s Cavaliers, who have a 41 FG% this year. 

Kyrie Irving lack of assist totals may have more to do with his teammates than his play making ability. Photo by: JBOTCH

Kyrie Irving’s lack of assist totals may have more to do with his teammates than his play making ability. Photo by: JBOTCH

When I first saw the AOPG stat, my first thought wasn’t “who creates the most assist opportunities per game?” No, it was, “which player has the highest percent of their assist opportunities converted to assists?” This reaction probably has to do with a Fantasy Basketball perspective, but it helped me find a valuable insight.

Below are the players that convert the highest percent of their assist opportunities into assists (cAST%):

PlayerAST PGAOPGcAST%
Dwyane Wade (MIA)5.27.966%
Lance Stephenson (IND)57.666%
Tim Duncan (SAS)3.55.465%
Shelvin Mack (ATL)3.65.664%
Andre Iguodala (GSW)5.89.462%
Arron Afflalo (ORL)4.87.862%
Stephen Curry (GSW)8.814.760%
Mario Chalmers (MIA)58.360%
Chris Paul (LAC)12.821.759%
Nicolas Batum (POR)5.39.158%
Luol Deng (CHI)46.958%
Tony Wroten (PHI)3.25.558%
Michael Carter-Williams (PHI)7.613.457%
Jrue Holiday (NOP)7.312.757%
Kyrie Irving (CLE)712.257%
LeBron James (MIA)6.912.157%
Jose Calderon (DAL)5.810.257%
Josh McRoberts (CHA)4.78.357%
Paul Millsap (ATL)35.357%
George Hill (IND)3.66.456%
Spencer Hawes (PHI)3.15.556%
Steve Blake (LAL)7.313.355%
Eric Bledsoe (PHX)6.812.355%
Josh Smith (DET)3.25.855%
Gary Neal (MIL)2.95.355%
Ricky Rubio (MIN)9.617.854%
Zaza Pachulia (MIL)2.7554%
Deron Williams (BKN)6.512.353%
Mike Conley (MEM)5.710.853%
Kevin Durant (OKC)5.19.753%
Jeremy Lin (HOU)4.99.253%
Bradley Beal (WAS)3.15.853%
Gal Mekel (DAL)2.85.353%
Kyle Lowry (TOR)6.111.752%
Tyreke Evans (NOP)3.56.752%
Chandler Parsons (HOU)3.46.552%
Eric Gordon (NOP)2.95.652%
Dennis Schroder (ATL)2.85.452%
Jeff Teague (ATL)917.651%
Brandon Jennings (DET)7.314.351%
Damian Lillard (POR)5.811.451%
Jordan Farmar (LAL)4.58.951%
Jordan Crawford (BOS)4.58.951%
Kevin Love (MIN)4.58.851%
Joakim Noah (CHI)3.16.151%
Blake Griffin (LAC)3.36.650%
Luke Ridnour (MIL)3650%
John Salmons (SAC)2.75.450%
Raymond Felton (NYK)5.210.749%
Goran Dragic (PHX)510.349%
Mo Williams (POR)4.89.749%
Marc Gasol (MEM)4.18.449%
Reggie Jackson (OKC)48.249%
Ramon Sessions (CHA)3.36.849%
Jamaal Tinsley (UTA)2.95.949%
Jameer Nelson (ORL)5.81248%
Victor Oladipo (ORL)3.36.948%
Al Horford (ATL)2.85.848%
Tony Parker (SAS)6.213.347%
Manu Ginobili (SAS)3.57.447%
Iman Shumpert (NYK)2.85.947%
Andre Miller (DEN)2.85.947%
Chauncey Billups (DET)2.45.147%
John Wall (WAS)9.12046%
James Harden (HOU)5.211.246%
Russell Westbrook (OKC)4.910.646%
Will Bynum (DET)3.67.846%
Pau Gasol (LAL)3.2746%
Anderson Varejao (CLE)2.75.946%
Ty Lawson (DEN)8.719.445%
Steve Nash (LAL)4.810.745%
Nate Wolters (MIL)4.51045%
Kemba Walker (CHA)4.49.745%
Norris Cole (MIA)2.96.445%
LaMarcus Aldridge (POR)2.55.545%
Greivis Vasquez (SAC)5.211.744%
Paul George (IND)3.27.344%
Mike Miller (MEM)2.45.544%
Monta Ellis (DAL)511.543%
Derrick Rose (CHI)4.410.343%
Jose Juan Barea (MIN)3.78.743%
J.R. Smith (NYK)2.35.343%
Patrick Beverley (HOU)2.35.343%
Isaiah Thomas (SAC)4.911.742%
Evan Turner (PHI)3.37.942%
DeMar DeRozan (TOR)2.5642%
Gordon Hayward (UTA)4.51141%
Paul Pierce (BKN)2.66.441%
Kirk Hinrich (CHI)4.511.340%
Shaun Livingston (BKN)3.38.240%
Gerald Henderson (CHA)2.15.439%
Jarrett Jack (CLE)3.4938%
Brandon Knight (MIL)2.3638%
Carmelo Anthony (NYK)38.137%
Boris Diaw (SAS)1.95.137%
John Lucas III (UTA)1.95.137%
O.J. Mayo (MIL)2.15.836%
Pablo Prigioni (NYK)25.636%
Alec Burks (UTA)2.57.235%
Louis Williams (ATL)2633%
 

Once I calculated the value of cAST, I thought I would look to see if there is a correlation between the amount of assist opportunities a player has converted into assists (cAST%) and the actual amount of assists a player has per-game.

This is what I found:

Assists correlated with cAST%

Not surprisingly, there is a strong correlation (.42) between cAST% and the actual amount of assists a player gets. Think about it, the more assist opportunities a player has converted into assists, the more assists they will get.

What good is this information? Knowing that there is correlation between cAST% and assists per game, we can regress the amount of assists a player has per game with the amount of assists per game his cAST% suggests he should have. This can give us a more realistic depiction of the assist totals a player will average per-game going forward.

Here are the definitions for what is in the graph below (group includes top 100 players in AOPG):

  • cAST%: Amount of assist opportunities a player has converted to assists
  • AST PG: Amount of assists a player averages per game
  • xAST PG: Amount of assists per game his cAST% suggests he should have
    • xAST=(11.405*cAST%) – 1.2663
  • rAST: Amount of assists per game a player gets, regressed with his xAST
    • rAST=((xAST-AST PG)*0.17639)+AST PG
  • DIFF: The difference between a player’s AST PG and his rAST
PlayercAST%AST PGxAST PGrASTDIFF
Chris Paul (LAC)59%12.85.4611.51-1.29
Ricky Rubio (MIN)54%9.64.888.77-0.83
Stephen Curry (GSW)60%8.85.568.23-0.57
Jeff Teague (ATL)51%94.578.22-0.78
John Wall (WAS)46%9.13.928.19-0.91
Ty Lawson (DEN)45%8.73.857.84-0.86
Michael Carter-Williams (PHI)57%7.65.207.18-0.42
Jrue Holiday (NOP)57%7.35.296.95-0.35
Steve Blake (LAL)55%7.34.996.89-0.41
Brandon Jennings (DET)51%7.34.566.82-0.48
Kyrie Irving (CLE)57%75.286.70-0.30
LeBron James (MIA)57%6.95.246.61-0.29
Eric Bledsoe (PHX)55%6.85.046.49-0.31
Deron Williams (BKN)53%6.54.766.19-0.31
Kyle Lowry (TOR)52%6.14.685.85-0.25
Tony Parker (SAS)47%6.24.055.82-0.38
Andre Iguodala (GSW)62%5.85.775.79-0.01
Jose Calderon (DAL)57%5.85.225.70-0.10
Damian Lillard (POR)51%5.84.545.58-0.22
Mike Conley (MEM)53%5.74.755.53-0.17
Jameer Nelson (ORL)48%5.84.255.53-0.27
Dwyane Wade (MIA)66%5.26.245.380.18
Nicolas Batum (POR)58%5.35.385.310.01
Lance Stephenson (IND)66%56.245.220.22
Mario Chalmers (MIA)60%55.605.110.11
Raymond Felton (NYK)49%5.24.285.04-0.16
Kevin Durant (OKC)53%5.14.735.03-0.07
James Harden (HOU)46%5.24.034.99-0.21
Arron Afflalo (ORL)62%4.85.754.970.17
Greivis Vasquez (SAC)44%5.23.804.95-0.25
Jeremy Lin (HOU)53%4.94.814.88-0.02
Goran Dragic (PHX)49%54.274.87-0.13
Josh McRoberts (CHA)57%4.75.194.790.09
Monta Ellis (DAL)43%53.694.77-0.23
Russell Westbrook (OKC)46%4.94.014.74-0.16
Mo Williams (POR)49%4.84.384.73-0.07
Isaiah Thomas (SAC)42%4.93.514.65-0.25
Steve Nash (LAL)45%4.83.854.63-0.17
Kevin Love (MIN)51%4.54.574.510.01
Jordan Farmar (LAL)51%4.54.504.500.00
Jordan Crawford (BOS)51%4.54.504.500.00
Nate Wolters (MIL)45%4.53.874.39-0.11
Kemba Walker (CHA)45%4.43.914.31-0.09
Gordon Hayward (UTA)41%4.53.404.31-0.19
Kirk Hinrich (CHI)40%4.53.284.28-0.22
Derrick Rose (CHI)43%4.43.614.26-0.14
Luol Deng (CHI)58%45.354.240.24
Marc Gasol (MEM)49%4.14.304.140.04
Reggie Jackson (OKC)49%44.304.050.05
Shelvin Mack (ATL)64%3.66.074.030.43
Tim Duncan (SAS)65%3.56.133.960.46
George Hill (IND)56%3.65.153.870.27
Tyreke Evans (NOP)52%3.54.693.710.21
Jose Juan Barea (MIN)43%3.73.583.68-0.02
Will Bynum (DET)46%3.64.003.670.07
Chandler Parsons (HOU)52%3.44.703.630.23
Manu Ginobili (SAS)47%3.54.133.610.11
Tony Wroten (PHI)58%3.25.373.580.38
Josh Smith (DET)55%3.25.033.520.32
Blake Griffin (LAC)50%3.34.443.500.20
Ramon Sessions (CHA)49%3.34.273.470.17
Spencer Hawes (PHI)56%3.15.163.460.36
Victor Oladipo (ORL)48%3.34.193.460.16
Bradley Beal (WAS)53%3.14.833.410.31
Paul Millsap (ATL)57%35.193.390.39
Joakim Noah (CHI)51%3.14.533.350.25
Jarrett Jack (CLE)38%3.43.043.34-0.06
Evan Turner (PHI)42%3.33.503.330.03
Pau Gasol (LAL)46%3.23.953.330.13
Shaun Livingston (BKN)40%3.33.323.300.00
Paul George (IND)44%3.23.733.290.09
Gary Neal (MIL)55%2.94.973.270.37
Luke Ridnour (MIL)50%34.443.250.25
Eric Gordon (NOP)52%2.94.643.210.31
Jamaal Tinsley (UTA)49%2.94.343.150.25
Gal Mekel (DAL)53%2.84.763.150.35
Dennis Schroder (ATL)52%2.84.653.130.33
Zaza Pachulia (MIL)54%2.74.893.090.39
Norris Cole (MIA)45%2.93.903.080.18
Al Horford (ATL)48%2.84.243.050.25
Iman Shumpert (NYK)47%2.84.153.040.24
Andre Miller (DEN)47%2.84.153.040.24
John Salmons (SAC)50%2.74.443.010.31
Carmelo Anthony (NYK)37%32.962.99-0.01
Anderson Varejao (CLE)46%2.73.952.920.22
LaMarcus Aldridge (POR)45%2.53.922.750.25
Paul Pierce (BKN)41%2.63.372.740.14
Chauncey Billups (DET)47%2.44.102.700.30
DeMar DeRozan (TOR)42%2.53.492.670.17
Mike Miller (MEM)44%2.43.712.630.23
J.R. Smith (NYK)43%2.33.682.540.24
Patrick Beverley (HOU)43%2.33.682.540.24
Alec Burks (UTA)35%2.52.692.530.03
Brandon Knight (MIL)38%2.33.112.440.14
Gerald Henderson (CHA)39%2.13.172.290.19
O.J. Mayo (MIL)36%2.12.862.230.13
Pablo Prigioni (NYK)36%22.812.140.14
Louis Williams (ATL)33%22.542.090.09
Boris Diaw (SAS)37%1.92.982.090.19
John Lucas III (UTA)37%1.92.982.090.19

Implications

This list gives a more realistic idea of what a player’s per game assist total over the course of the season will be; Chris Paul is good, but close to thirteen assists per game is a little more than unsustainable.

More importantly, this list gives us an idea of the type of insight that may be gleaned from the SportVU technology. The calculations done in this post must be held in perspective because of their sample size, but three years from now, when we have multiple seasons worth of data, there will large enough data sets to allow for insights into the NBA that never seemed possible.

Devin Jordan is obsessed with statistical analysis, non-fiction literature, and electronic music. If you enjoyed reading him, follow him on Twitter @devinjjordan.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Chief Markief

    November 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    thanks

  2. Anthony

    November 19, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    Really interesting to see what you can do with the SportsVU data. However, do you think this data is useful for projecting future production? The CP3 differential between actual and regressed assist totals is about 1 assist per game, which doesn’t strike me as too much of a difference in future production.

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