Charting Assists for Chris Paul and Jason KiddThe last time that I charted assists, 13 of the 16 assists that were officially credited to Chris Paul and Tony Parker fit the rulebook definition* of an assist. Chris Paul and Jason Kidd were officially credited with 23 assists in New Orleans' 102-92 home victory over Dallas on Sunday. Here is how I would have scored those 23 plays:
Chris Paul's 17 Assists
1: Peja Stojakovic jump shot, 11:11 1st q: Correct; this was a straightforward catch and shoot play.
2: Peja Stojakovic jump shot, 6:37 1st q: Correct; Stojakovic took one rhythm dribble before going straight into his shooting motion (by "rhythm dribble" I mean that the player dribbled the ball without actually significantly changing his position on the court, almost like a free throw shooter taking a dribble before shooting).
3: Melvin Ely dunk, 4:09 1st q: Correct; Paul's feed created the play.
4: David West jump shot, 3:26 1st q: Correct; this was a straightforward catch and shoot play.
5: James Posey layup, 2:31 1st q: Incorrect; Posey caught the ball on the right block, took two dribbles, made a spin move and did an up fake before making a short shot (and drawing a foul). Posey's one on one moves created the score, not Paul's simple entry pass.
6: David West jump shot, :40 1st q: Correct; this was a straightforward catch and shoot play.
7: Antonio Daniels jump shot, 7:50 2nd q: Correct; Daniels took one rhythm dribble but then went straight into his shooting motion.
8: Peja Stojakovic three pointer, 4:45 2nd q: Correct; this was a straightforward catch and shoot play.
9: Rasual Butler three pointer, 3:23 2nd q: Correct; this was a straightforward catch and shoot play.
10: Rasual Butler three pointer, 6:54 3rd q: Correct; this was a straightforward catch and shoot play.
11: David West layup, 6:22 3rd q: Correct; Paul's feed created the play.
12: David West jump shot, 5:50 3rd q: Correct; this was a straightforward catch and shoot play.
13: David West dunk, 2:16 3rd q: Correct; Paul's feed created the play.
14: David West jump shot, 1:42 3rd q: Correct; this was a straightforward catch and shoot play.
15: David West jump shot, 9:30 4th q: Correct; West took one rhythm dribble and then immediately shot the ball.
16: David West turnaround jump shot, 3:48 4th q: Incorrect; West caught the ball on the left block, backed down Brandon Bass with two dribbles and then shot a turnaround fadeaway jumper. What is the difference between this play and Kidd's sixth assist (see below)? I think that Kidd's sixth assist was borderline but I gave him the benefit of the doubt because Howard took one dribble that did not improve his position on the court and he went straight into his shooting motion; on this play, West not only took an extra dribble but on each of his dribbles he noticeably improved his post position, thus setting up his defender for the turnaround, fadeaway shot. It cannot be said that Paul's pass created this play.
17: Rasual Butler layup, 3:25 4th q: Correct; Paul's slick feed in traffic created the play. Butler also got fouled and made the free throw to put New Orleans up 91-86.
Jason Kidd's Six Assists
1: Dirk Nowitzki jump shot, 8:06 1st q: Correct; this was a straightforward catch and shoot play.
2: Jason Terry three pointer, 2:05 1st q: Correct; this was a straightforward catch and shoot play.
3: Dirk Nowitzki jump shot, 7:31 3rd q: Correct; this was a straightforward catch and shoot play.
4: Josh Howard jump shot, 6:33 3rd q: Incorrect; Howard received the ball in the midpost area, faced up Rasual Butler, jab stepped and then made the shot. Kidd had drifted away and was already spotting up on the other side of the court by the time that Howard made the shot.
5: Jason Terry jump shot, 1:54 3rd q: Correct; this was a straightforward catch and shoot play.
6: Josh Howard jump shot, :40 3rd q: Correct; Howard caught the ball on the right block with his back to the basket, took one quick rhythm dribble and shot a turnaround jumper over Paul. This was somewhat of a borderline play in the sense that Howard still had to make a move to score but I think that Kidd deserves the assist because Howard made an immediate reaction to shoot after catching the ball and did not change his position on the court with the one quick dribble.
Other Noteworthy Plays:
* At the 9:08 mark of the second quarter, Nowitzki passed to Howard, who took one dribble and made a tough floater in the lane; in previous games that I charted, Paul was incorrectly awarded an assist on similar plays but this time the correct ruling (no assist) was made.
* At the 8:52 mark of the third quarter, Nowitzki took two dribbles, spun, faked and then made a jumper after receiving a pass from Kidd; in previous games that I charted, Paul was incorrectly awarded an assist on similar plays but this time the correct ruling (no assist) was made.
* At the :33 mark of the third quarter, Paul passed to West, who took three dribbles and scored over Kidd with a nice one on one move; in previous games that I charted, Paul was incorrectly awarded an assist on similar plays but this time the correct ruling (no assist) was made.
Although it was not perfect, this was perhaps the "cleanest" game that I have charted not only in terms of the officially awarded assists matching the rulebook definition of an assist but also because the three plays listed above were scored correctly by not awarding assists. Hopefully, this is a sign of progress and not simply an aberration. Of course, getting things (mostly) right in this game does not address the fact that Paul's season and career totals still include the incorrect assists that I highlighted in previous posts in addition to his two gift assists today. Another cautionary note is that most of the passes that resulted in made baskets in this game were simple catch and shoot plays, while some passes that were followed by missed shots were on plays where assists would not have been merited had those shots connected; would the latter plays have been scored correctly had the shots been made? Hopefully, the three above examples indicate that perhaps the NBA is cleaning up some of the scorekeeping sloppiness that I have been documenting for nearly a year.
Overall, this is the sixth game during which I have charted Chris Paul's assists (including two games from last year's playoffs); in three of those games I also charted the assist totals for the starting point guard on the other team (Tony Parker twice, Jason Kidd today). Paul was officially credited with 72 assists in those games but only 57 of those assists fit the rulebook definition (and that includes some borderline plays). Parker officially had 11 assists but should only have been credited with eight, while five of Kidd's six assists were correct.
*For those of you who have not read my previous posts on this subject and/or do not know what the rulebook definition of an assist is, here is a passage that was posted on NBA.com in 2002 (yes, that was seven years ago but the NBA has not announced any official changes in its scorekeeping procedures regarding assists since that time):
An assist is a pass that directly leads to a basket. This can be a pass to the low post that leads to a direct score, a long pass for a layup, a fast break pass to a teammate for a layup, and/or a pass that results in an open perimeter shot for a teammate. In basketball, an assist is awarded only if, in the judgement of the statistician, the last player's pass contributed directly to a made basket. An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player's pass led to the field goal being made.
The concluding words of my December 18, 2008 post on this subject are well worth repeating here:
The rule of thumb to keep in mind is that the pass is supposed to "directly" lead to a basket. Every fake, dribble and move that the recipient makes after getting the ball makes that "direct" connection more and more tenuous. If the recipient is running down court uncontested and his teammate passes him the ball, then the number of dribbles he takes is irrelevant: he is meeting no defensive resistance and he clearly would not have scored without receiving that pass--but if a player is running down court, receives a pass, does a crossover dribble to shake one defender and then twists and turns to lay the ball up over another defender, then the pass did not really "directly" lead to the score because the scorer did most of the work. If the scorer does most of the work then the passer should not receive credit for an assist.
posted by David Friedman @ 4:37 PM