In my personal opinion, point guards at times are overrated for their assist numbers and others are underrated for their assist number. I believe that an assist is the result of the proper play drawn up by the coach, the proper execution of the play by the team, and in some instances, the shot capability of the player who makes the basket. Because of these factors (coaches, plays, other players on the floor, etc.), I wanted to look at some stats from a few games to see if there's anything we can draw from our recent point guards.
For the first time since Chauncy Billups back in 2008 (for two games), the Pistons had a true point guard on the team in Jose Calderon. To many fans dismay, that was short lived. Within his short time on the team, Calderon had 4 games of 10+ assists. Last year, Brandon Knight had 3. And to compare to a championship team, Billups had 7 such games back in 2003-04. But how were these assists gained? In the case of Calderon vs. Knight, we have the same coach to go off of, so keep that in mind.
So in the 4 games for Calderon, he totaled 55 assists (13.75 APG). Of those assists, 30 were either Dunks or Layups. So roughly 54.5% of his assists came at the basket. Of the other 25 assists, 12 were 3 pointers and 13 were Jump/Hook shots. Knight accounted for 6 of those 3 pointers, and Singer 3. Monroe accounted for 6 (2 Hook) of those Jump/Hook shots, and Knight 3.
With pretty much the same team and the same coach, Knight had 32 assists in those three games (10.66 APG). Of those assists, 19 were either Dunks or Layups. So roughly 59.4% of his assists came at the basket. Only 2 of the other 13 assists were 3 pointers, both to Singler. Monroe and Maxiell accounted for the most Jump shots, each getting 4 and 3 respectively.
With a much different team and a very different coach, Billups had 81 total assists in those 7 games (11.6 APG). Of those 81 assists, 37 were either Dunks or Layups. So roughly 45.7% of his assists came at the basket. Only 8 of the other 44 assists were 3 pointers, Prince accounting for 3 and Hamilton for 2. Of the other 36 Jump/Hook shots, Hamilton and Prince accounted for 10, Rasheed (I believe - The Play by Play only said Wallace) acconted for 7, and a mix of Atkins, Hunter, Milicic, Okur and Williamson.
So the question stands, who gets credit for the assist? In 2003-04, Hamilton was shooting 45.5%/26.5% (FG%/3P%), Prince was shooting 46.7%/36.3% and Rasheed was shooting 43.1%/31.9%. This past year, Knight shot 40.7%/36.7%, Monroe shot 48.6%/0.0%, Maxiell shot 44.6%/0.0% and Singler shot 42.8%/35.0%. I believe the reason why Calderon and Knight's percentage of assists that resulted in Dunks and Layups was higher than Jump Shots was because the team didn't have consistent jump shooters...no spacing. At least, not as it compares to Billups in 2003-04. Could Knight be considered a better PG had he been on a team comparable to the 2003-04 Pistons? It's possible.
I would like to state that there are things that aren't accounted for on NBA.com, ESPN.com or Basketball-Reference.com that I would love to see. I would like to see how many times Knight, Calderon or Billups passed the ball to a teammate who shot the ball (3PT, Jump Shot, layup, etc.) and they missed, were blocked, or fouled. In the past I've had talks with members on here how there should be a partial assist for free throws made by the player who was fouled as a result of the point guard's pass (or other player). But the reason why I would like to see how many times players missed shots that could have resulted in assists is to see if 1) the play that was run was run for the wrong player (i.e. Stuckey), 2) how the percentages compare of converted/unconverted assists, and 3)the style of player they are.
In terms of number 2 above, I would like to see if maybe Jose had a higher conversion percentage than that of Knight. This would mean that Knight has a knack for getting the player the ball to shoot, but that the shooter isn't converting. I would imagine that Bynum would have a higher conversion rate than Knight seeing as how Bynum seeks to score more than pass.
So what do you think? With Datome and KCP on board, both who are likely to be better shooters than Stuckey, along with the athleticism of Smith and Drummond, the continuing development of Monroe...could Knight have a career high in APG (should he start). Cheeks, also a previous PG, with the assistance of Billups, will be able to teach Knight the plays better since they both know how to run an offense, especially in the half court. And should Knight have a career high in APG, how much of that is the development of him, and how much of that is his teammates and coach? Would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.