As of December 9, the Warriors lead the NBA in assists with 28.7 per game, a mere .8 ahead of the second place Spurs. But the raw assists per game numbers do not come close to conveying how much the Warriors are lapping the rest of the NBA at scoring off of passes. The Warriors’ are in their own universe in their own reliance on — and success at — scoring off of assists. Golden State is averaging 55.2 potential assists (passes that lead to a shot that would result in an assist if the shot is made) per game, 5.4 ahead of the second place Heat. The gap between the Warriors and the second place Heat is more than the gap between the Heat and the 21st ranked Rockets. Golden State is getting 75.1 points off of assists per game, 5.2 higher than the 69.9 of the second place Spurs. When we look at the Potential Assists vs. Points Created from Assists, Golden State looks like they’re playing a different sport than the other NBA teams.
The further right a team is on the graph, the more potential assists they have per game, and the higher up a team is on the graph, the more points they are getting off of assists per game. Teams above the blue line are more efficient at converting potential assists into points. So Golden State has a huge volume of potential assists per game and is efficient at scoring off of them, while a team like Minnesota has a lot of potential assists per game but isn’t very efficient at scoring off of them.
Golden State is not the most efficient team at creating points from potential assists. That honor goes to the Hawks, who are averaging 1.412 points per potential assist on the much rarer occasions they pass. What sets Golden State apart is really that they manage to be good at scoring off of potential assists while having far more of them than any other team.
Other noteworthy insights:
- Charlotte and San Antonio are scoring extremely well off of assists. Charlotte might not be a surprise, but I don’t think many NBA fans would expect the Spurs to be almost identical to them in this regard.
- As anyone who has bothered to watch a Thunder game could probably tell you, they are okay at passing but unbelievably bad at finishing, averaging only 1.17 points per possible assist. They blow open layups off of great passes several times every game.
- Detroit is not much better off than Oklahoma City, scoring a mere 1.2 points per possible assist. Minnesota, despite their surge, are only getting 1.23 points per possible assist.
- The Knicks and 76ers should try passing occasionally.
- Toronto’s offense is as clunky as many thought it would be going into the year.