Russel Westbrook is a better passer than Rajon Rondo, but not as good as Kendall Marshall

Well, maybe not really. But there's this one stat for efficiency, that I, in my authority, made up, which rates that as the order.

The stats for passing are worse than the stats for defense. We count assists, but we don't count assist attempts. If we define an assist opportunity as a pass followed by a shot, we can clearly see how a player might be more or less efficient as a passer--not just by his assist to turnover ration, but also by the EFG% of shots following his passes. In the past we couldn't determine this, because no one counted assist attempts.

But now we have all the sportvue data, which counts Assist opportunities per game, (AO/PG), and counts "Points Created by Assists per game." (PCA/PG) If we just divide PCA/PG by AO/per Game, we have determined the expected value (sans turnovers) of a player's assist opportunities. Let's call this Points per Assist Opportunity. (P/AO)

13-14 is the first year for which this data has been made publicly available, so we can't look any further back.

I've calculated the P/AO for the leagues top one hundred in assists per game, according to sportvu.

Here are the top 25 players in Assists per game, sorted by P/AO.

1 Kendall Marshall 1.29
2 Russel Westbrook 1.28
2 Lebron James 1.28
4 Jrue Holiday 1.27
5 Chris Paul 1.24
5 James Harden 1.24
5 Steph Curry 1.24
5 John Wall 1.24
9 Monte Ellis 1.23
10 Goran Dragic 1.22
10 Steve Blake (with Lakers) 1.22
12 Kyle Lowry 1.21
13 Michael Carter Williams 1.2
14 Kyrie Irving 1.19
14 Deron Williams 1.19
16 Ricky Rubio 1.18
17 Kobe Bryant 1.17
18 Jeff Teague 1.16
18 Rajon Rondo 1.16
18 Ty Lawson 1.16
21 Kemba Walker 1.15
22 Mike Conley 1.14
23 Jameer Nelson 1.13
23 Brandon Jennings 1.13
25 Isaiah Thomas 1.1

What stands out

Kendall Marshall

Kendall Marshall is #1!


Tied with Lebron for 2nd! I know he gets to pass to KD, but still, surprising.


It's Lebron

Chris Paul

Not the most efficient passer, but the most efficient of the high volume passers (after Point God Kendall Marshall of course.)

James Harden

Our man. He's good at passing. He should do it more often next year.

Michael Carter-Williams

Putting up a solid number despite spending half the year on a really good D-League that happened to play in the NBA. ROtY.

Kyrie Irving

John Wall is better than you.


Played six games, passed a lot.

Rajon Rondo

I've always said he's an overrated pass chucker. Though he is, admittedly, coming off an ACL injury in this sample.

Brandon Jennings

Looking at his assists numbers, you might have guessed he'd improved as a passer last year. But maybe just passed a lot.

Jameer Nelson

He's not retired? I thought he had retired.

Isaiah Thomas

It was strange to me how much the Kings sucked, considering they had Cousins, the Sacramento version of Rudy Gay, and Thomas. Now it makes more sense.


It's presumably harder to be an efficient passer at high volume than it is at low volume, just as with scoring. So let's look at 26-50 as their own group. Here they are top 26-50 in assists per game, sorted by P/AO

1) Devin Harris 1.35
2) Mario Chalmers 1.3
3 Raymond Felton 1.28
3 Nicolas Batum 1.28
3 Tyreke Evans 1.28
6 Kevin Durant 1.25
7 Damian Lillard 1.24
7 Dwyane Wade 1.24
7 Aaron Brooks (Denver) 1.24
10 Lance Stephenson 1.22
11 Trey Burke 1.2
11 Joakim Noah 1.2
11 Jordan Farmar 1.2
14 Eric Bledsoe 1.18
15 Steve Blake (total) 1.17
15 Brandon Knight 1.17
15 Jose Calderon 1.17
18 Jordan Crawford 1.16
19 Tony Parker 1.13
19 Ramon Sessions(Bucks) 1.13
21 Steve Nash 1.1
21 Gordon Hayward 1.1
23 DJ Augustin (Bulls) 1.05
23 DJ Augustin (Total) 1.05
25 Greivis Vasquez (Sac) 0.98

Devin Harris

I don't know who he is, but maybe I should find out. He plays for the Mavs.

Mario Chalmers

Benefits from Lebron, I'm sure, but still, surprising.

Raymond Felton

So he is good for something. Inform the Knicks fans. And the Mavs fans.

Kevin Durant

He won MVP for mostly for scoring, but not just for scoring.

Joakim Noah

First center to make the list. Remember he's playing for the Bulls. His number would likely be higher on a good offense.

Brandon Knight

The Bucks got the better Brandon.

Tony Parker

Really surprised by this. I would have thought he'd be in the upper 1.2s.

Greivis Vasquez (Sac)

I've always thought he's a bit of a pass chucker, and I know he struggled with the Kings, but .98, seriously? Let's not sign him.


We're talking about 4 assists per game at this point.

1) Andre Iguodala 1.44
2) Jeremy Lin 1.36
3) Manu Ginobili 1.34
4) Chandler Parsons 1.33
5 Josh McRoberts 1.22
5 Demar DeRozan 1.22
5 Greivis Vasquez (TOR) 1.22
5 Shelvin Mack 1.22
9 Kevin Love 1.21
9 Blake Griffin 1.21
11 Mo Williams 1.2
11 Luol Deng 1.2
13 Darren Collison 1.17
14 Will Bynum 1.14
15 Reggie Jackson 1.13
15 Greivis Vasquez (total) 1.13
15 Ramon Sessions (total) 1.13
18 Ramon Sessions (Char) 1.12
18 Marc Gasol 1.11
20 Jarrett Jack 1.1
20 Jose Juan Barea 1.1
20 Evan Turner (Sixer) 1.1
23 Kirk Hinrich 1.06
24 Victor Oladipo 1.03
25 Derrick Rose 0.96

What stands out

Andre Iguodala

Hey wwert, you know when you were saying Iggy was a superstar, and I was saying he was good but no superstar? Well, I still say he's not a superstar, but, well, maybe he's closer than I thought.

Jeremy Lin

We're gonna miss this guy when he's gone.

Manu Ginobili


Chandler Parsons

We'll miss him too, but we won't have to for quite a bit longer.

Derrick Rose

Coming back from injury.


At this point, the volume is getting pretty small. The players here average between 3.6 and 3.2 assists per game. It's a mixture of back up point guards and guys not known for their passing.

1 Andre Miller (WAS) 1.44
2 Andre Miller (TOT) 1.34
3 Louis Williams 1.31
4 Andre Miller (DEN) 1.27
4 Jamal Crawford 1.27
6 Paul Millsap 1.26
7 Josh Smith 1.25
7 Randy Foye 1.25
7 Bradley Beal 1.25
10 Aaaron Brooks (TOT) 1.24
11 Phil Pressey 1.21
12 Brian Roberts 1.19
13 Eric Gordon 1.17
13 Jordan Crawford (TOT) 1.17
15 Shaun Livingston 1.16
16 Evan Turner (TOT) 1.15
17 Luke Ridnour (MIL) 1.14
18 Pau Gasol 1.14
19 Spencer Hawes 1.12
20 Pablo Prigioni 1.11
21 Aaron Afflalo 1.1
22 Steve Blake (GSW) 1.09
22 Paul George 1.09
24 George Hill 1.08
25 Beno Udrih 1.06

What Stands Out

Andre Miller

That Professor still got it. Good in Denver, amazing in Washington.

Jamal Crawford

Passes well when we wants too.

Paul Millsap

Useful in so many little ways.

Steve Blake

Dramatically less efficient in GS than he was for the Lakers.

Paul George-George Hill

The Pacers have a poor offense.

Beno Udrih

But did Beno have to throw him the ball? You gotta look at that.

What are the problems with this stat?

For starters, it completely ignores turnovers. A turnover when attempting an assist is a failed assist, and worse than a normal failed assist, in that live ball turnovers often start fastbreaks. But sportvu only counts it as an assist attempt when the shot is taken, which obviously doesn't happen when the ball is lost before it reaches the intended recipient.

How good is this data?

I don't know. I'm not an expert on sportvu. But according to this article the software and the scorekeepers are in a agreement about 95% of the time. We should also note that whatever faults sportvu has, human scorekeepers surely have their own.

It has been often noted that high assists numbers for a team don't correlate with offensive efficiency. The usual explanation is that teams without elite scorers have to pass it more. But some have asked whether ball movement is even useful. This would seem to answer that. The Clippers were last year's most efficient offense, averaging 1.09 points per possession. But the average value of an assist attempt, among the top 100 in assists per game, is clearly well above that. An assist attempt is, on average, more valuable than the average shot that does not follow an assist attempt. (This ignores turnovers.) In related news, the Rockets, in the playoffs, had 34.7 AO per game, 15th of 16, just ahead of the Raptors at 16.1, despite the fact that we averaged 95.93 possessions per 48 minutes, and the Raptors averaged 91.14 possessions per 48 minutes.

Rajon Rondo is known as one of the best passer in basketball, but his P/AO is average at best. This doesn't mean he's not one of the best passers. He was second in assists per game, and 3rd in points created by assists per minute. His volume was elite, and this matters. Last year's Celtics had an Orating of 99.7. So while Rondo wasn't highly efficient, going by P/AO, relative to his peers, his assist attempts, with a P/AO of 1.16, were more efficient than the average Celtics possession that didn't end in a Rondo assist attempt.

Another reminder, cause it matters, P/AO ignores turnovers, since it sportvu only counts it as an assist attempt if a shot is taken.

Is "Points Created By Assist per Game" even counting what I think it is?

I don't know. It might also be counting secondary assists and free throw assists. I can't find anywhere that explains in detail. Even if it is counting those other things, I still contend that this stat is better than assist to turnover ratio.

Is this fanpost finished?

Not really, but I got tired of having it as a draft, so I'm publishing it. Please suggest changes slash point out errors as you see fit.

No cursing in title. No pirated material, such as links to online game streams. Do not cut/paste entire sections of content from other websites. Thanks.

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