Assists, assisted FG%, and winning

February 17, 2017 by J.H. Yeh

The Golden State Warriors assist on 70.9% of their field goals and they are leading the league with 47 wins. The All-Star Weekend is a good time to take a look at how each team has fared as the league prepares itself for the second half of the season. Below is a chart that shows each team’s assists, made field goals, assisted field goal percentage, wins & losses, and the winning percentage.

 

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The average assists in the league is 22.5 per contest and the average made FG is 38.9 and the average average assisted FG% is 57.7%. The Golden State Warriors lead all three categories while the Toronto Raptors is last in assists and assisted FG%. The Memphis Grizzlies is last in made FG.
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In the linear regression above, we see that with a slope of 1.6 and an R-Squared of 0.22, the result is a little ambiguous as the Warriors clearly lead the rest of the league in both assist and wins. The San Antonio Spurs are an outlier as they are sixth place in total assists but second in wins. This is a clear evidence of their incredibly efficient offense. Other outliers include the Utah Jazz and the Toronto Raptors. On the flip side, the Brooklyn Nets are the sole outlier situated at the bottom of the chart.

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The second chart depicts the relationship between assisted FG% and winning percentage. With a low R-Squared of 0.127, this shows that the two are not highly correlated as many outliers are presented —  which further shows that assisted FG% is not a strong variable that can predict or have direct impact on the winning percentage.

It is no doubt that high assist numbers or percentage can result in many wins, but average and lower-than-average numbers or percentage can ramify into various different win-loss records as the two are not strongly correlated. Assists and assists percentage alone are not good indicators of win-loss records because there are many other factors that can contribute to wins other than good movement. Teams such as the Raptors and the Cavaliers don’t have high assist numbers and assisted FG% but they are winning because of experience and a good mix of veterans. The Jazz have one of the lowest assists but are winning because of terrific defense to compensate for their shortcoming on assists.

As a result, the number of assist and assisted FG% are not good predictors of a team’s success because both categories are highly dependent on the quality of a team’s offensive players. Assists and assisted FG% cannot accurately predict a defensive team’s performance like the Utah Jazz; instead, they under-estimate the team’s performance. However, it is suggested that very high assists and assisted FG% can lead to winning —  but that only stops there as anything that is below moderately high assists and assisted FG% are found to have mix and inconclusive results.

 

 

— J.H. Yeh

(all tables and graphs are created by me, all stats are courtesy of NBA.com’s player tracking as of February 17, 2017)

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