We find ourselves 17 days away from tip off which seems close enough to start dusting off those old draft manuels and updating some assumptions. My big assumptions going into the draft this year are the effects from all of the moves in the NBA (have you checked your phone in the last hour? You might have missed 2-3 trades).
Next up is an unassuming stat - Assists
2016-2017 Assists per game leaders
James Harden (11.2)
John Wall (10.7)
Russell Westbrook (10.4)
Chris Paul (9.2)
Ricky Rubio (9.1)
-When I see this group of five I really isolate Ricky as a separate type of player. The top 4 will provide top caliber Assists with 15+ points, Ricky, this is his main contribution into your team (and in Utah he wont have Karl Anthony Towns to pass to). Chris Paul is still going strong at 32 with no signs of slowing down. Finally the top 3, to me, should stay atop the category. James Harden will continue to shine with Houston, I am expecting a strong year statistically from John Wall as he and Bradley Beal are the workhorses in Washington, Russell should be able to keep his Assists per game strong as he dishes to Carmelo Anthony and George Paul this year.
2015-2016 Assists per game leaders
Rajon Rondo (11.7)
Russell Westbrook (10.4)
John Wall (10.2)
Chris Paul (10.0)
Ricky Rubio (8.6)
-Few players in the last 10 years are more mercurial than Rajon Rondo and his roster and stat trends corroborate that. Playing on 4 teams over the last three years, his APG has gone from lows of 6.5 per game with Dallas to a high of 11.7 with Sacramento. I’m inclined to think his time in the limelight is on over the hill. The assumed foursome of Westbrook, Wall, CP3 and Rubio cap it off. James Harden was 6th at 7.5 APG. Seeing Ricky’s ASP go up .5 year over year can be attributed to the roster talents of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins improving his options as he dishes the ball. In Utah his options will be more limited and he might see a decline
2014-2015 Assists per game leaders
Chris Paul (10.2)
John Wall (10.0)
Ty Lawson (9.6)
Russell Westbrook (8.6)
Rajon Rondo (7.9)
-Not too much to comment on here except Ty Lawson who is now playing in the Chinese Basketball Association for the Shandong Golden Stars now, man was he fun to watch in his prime. James Harden was all the way down at 8th with 7.0 APG. The constants that does not show up here are LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kyle Lowry who are all in the top 12 each year but do not crack the top 5.
Assists per game recap: When you look at the top five players, their average points per game amongst the five of them went from 9.26 in 2014-2015 to 10.18 in 2015-2016 DOWN to 10.104 in 2016-2017, the overall trend of the NBA over the last few years is going up since 2011-2012 season where the average game had 21 assists per game increasing each year up to 22.6 last year. Second, unlike points per game, there is an opportunity in this stat to increase with the RIGHT added players. Players like Russell could be beneficiaries as Carmelo Anthony and Paul George (who are not afraid to shoot) join the Thunder (as long as the three of them learn to pass the ball and don’t try to do it themselves), most of the Golden State players keep benefitting from the added talent since they are not afraid to pass the ball around, the only one who might be hurt is James Harden who might have a worse roster this year than last (depending on CP3 and him finding chemistry or. not). they are savvy vets and I think they will find each other for perimeter shots and quick breaks but it could be self-cannibalizing too. The talents of Lonzo Ball (7.6APG at UCLA) will be oft watched as he dishes the ball to Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Andrew Bogut. I think Markelle Fultz could be another fun team to watch as he dishes to Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and JJ Redick. Markelle had 5.9 APG last year but does a deeper group of talent surrounding him here than he had at Washington respectively. This stat, much like rebounds, is dominated by a core group of 4 players and should be fairly consistent year over year. Two rookies could push for their place among the leaders but I don’t forsee too much changing year over year in the collectors of this stat.
Up next: Steals!