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Ben Simmons Assist Tracker: who is receiving Simmons’ assists?

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Plus, Ben’s top 5 assists of the season so far.

Orlando Magic v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

There’s something about a crisp, on-target, well-timed pass of the basketball that is intensely satisfying. On a personal level, the cleanest pass of the evening’s highlight reel is almost always more of a delight than the most thunderous posterization or the deepest of buzzer beaters. Whether flashy or fundamentally sound, the basketball assist reigns supreme in categories concerning aesthetics.

Ben Simmons’ passing is both flashy and fundamentally sound. More importantly, his passing often leads to points. Simmons’ rookie season proved as much, as he finished tied for fourth in the NBA in assists per game (8.2). Whether by the eye or by the numbers, Ben’s ability to quarterback on the basketball court is evident.

Given the effectiveness and regularity of Ben’s dimes, it’s interesting to bring into observation the deeper elements of Simmons’ feeds. Questions like:

  • Who is receiving Ben’s assists?
  • Is anyone costing Ben assists, maybe through hesitation or lack of, say, cutting?
  • Could Ben have more assists? Is there a realistic projection?
  • How many of Ben’s assists are coming from set plays?
  • How many of Ben’s assists are coming in transition?
  • What lineup produces the most assists from Simmons?

This series, at hopefully-consistent-but-likely-varying intervals, will attempt to answer those questions and more over the course of the 2018-2019 season. I’ll also include an updated video of Ben’s top 5 assists, which will likely increase to a top 10 as the season progresses.

Who is receiving Ben’s assists?

In the debut of this series, I’d like to take a look at the first question I proposed: who is receiving Simmons’ assists? The problem with answering this question and many from above at this point in time regards the cautionary three-word phrase “small sample size”. Still, we can identify early trends and track developments as we go along.

Simmons has accumulated 37 assists on the season through the game against the Charlotte Hornets. Ben’s assists per game average took a bit of a hit in that Charlotte game. Simmons tallied just three dimes against the Hornets, marking the first time he’s totaled less than five assists while playing at least 30 minutes since January 2018. Nonetheless, Simmons still comes in at 15th in the NBA in total assists in the young season; an impressive feat, considering every player above him sans J.J. Barea has over a quarter’s worth of minutes played more than Simmons.

So how have those 37 assists been distributed? The following table tracks who has received Ben’s assists, at what sort of relative frequency they’ve done so and how much the “who” has played with Simmons:

Ben Simmons Assists Breakdown

Player Assisted Total Assists from Simmons Percentage of Simmons OVR Assists MP w/ Simmons Assists from Simmons/36
Player Assisted Total Assists from Simmons Percentage of Simmons OVR Assists MP w/ Simmons Assists from Simmons/36
JJ Redick 6 16.22% 95 2.27
Joel Embiid 7 18.92% 114 2.21
Robert Covington 8 21.62% 121 2.38
Dario Saric 7 18.92% 104 2.42
Fultz 2 5.41% 70 1.03
Shamet 2 5.41% 28 2.57
Johnson 3 8.11% 32 3.38
Korkmaz 1 2.70% 7 5.14
Muscala 1 2.70% 14 2.57

Of note: two players have logged minutes with Ben Simmons, but have not received any assists from Ben. They are TJ McConnell, who has played 30 minutes with Simmons, and Jonah Bolden, who has played one minute with Simmons.

Let’s visualize that table:

It’s no surprise that the players who have logged the most minutes with Simmons have received the highest percentage of assists from Ben. So let’s take a look at the per-36 (although it’s entirely too early to really put much value in such a measurement):

Observations

  • It’s remarkable how evenly distributed Ben’s assists are amongst the players he’s on the court with most often. Each of Saric, Embiid, Covington and Redick receive around 2.2 to 2.4 assists/36 from Ben. Before the Charlotte game, those numbers were even closer.
  • Don’t be fooled by Korkmaz’ per-36. Ben’s fed him just once on the season.
  • The most obvious observation here is how infrequently Simmons assists Markelle Fultz.

Again, it’s very early for this sort of tracking. These numbers could fluctuate significantly over the next few games, weeks, months. Regardless, we have to start somewhere.

Simmons’ Top 5 Assists (so far)

I intended to post Simmons’ Top 10 assists, but there just aren’t enough highlight reel worthy clips. There’s not many flashy assists at this point, so many of the following were just the right pass with the right touch at the right time. As we acquire more clips to choose from, I imagine this Top 5 will indeed grow to a Top 10, and the passes will go from “that was nice” to “holy hell, I’ve never seen that before”.

Poll

Who will receive the largest percentage of Ben Simmons’ assists by season’s end?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Joel Embiid
    (89 votes)
  • 30%
    Robert Covington
    (79 votes)
  • 8%
    Dario Saric
    (23 votes)
  • 24%
    JJ Redick
    (65 votes)
  • 1%
    Markelle Fultz
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (comment below)
    (3 votes)
263 votes total Vote Now