Sacramento Kings: Who is Dishing Out the Dimes?

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The following table shows how many assists each Sacramento Kings player currently has.

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* Numbers come from basketball reference.

The above table provides raw assist numbers. Tyreke Evans has the most to date, while Thomas Robinson does not have any. To get a better idea how each player compares with each other, the following table provides the number of assists on a 36-minute basis.

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* Note: Travis Outlaw has played a total of 21 minutes and Jimmer Fredette a total of 33 minutes.

Observations and Analysis:

After five games, the Sacramento Kings rank 23rd out of 30 teams in the league in total assists, which indicates the team is only ahead of seven other teams in the league. Not good.

At the top of the list of assists per player on a 36-minute basis is surprisingly Travis Outlaw. This is not a mistake.  Outlaw’s ranking at the top is more a matter of small sample size, as he has played the fewest minutes of any of the players. While he had a good number of assists for his 21 minutes of playing time, for all we know, the coach may have told him to pass the ball whenever he gets his hands on it rather than attempting to score.

Chuck Hayes is next with 3.5 assists for 36 minutes. This was a surprise to me, because I was expecting the guards to be at the top. Chuck has been more efficient on the floor and this may be one of those areas.

Evans, Brooks, and Fredette all tied with 3.3 assists per 36 minutes of play. Keep in mind,  Evans has logged in 174 minutes to Fredette’s 33.  So Evan’s number is probably more reliable than Fredette’s at this point.

Next is Marcus Thornton, followed by James Johnson, and then Isaiah Thomas.

It is a bit concerning that Thomas ranked as low on a per-minute basis, because he is considered the team’s primary play maker. His assist numbers are below Thornton who is primarily a shooting guard.

While, it is still early to make too much of these numbers at this point, we would expect the point guards, the primary ball handlers to be making more of the assists than the shooting guards. That pattern is not apparent at this point, with Tyreke Evans, a 2-guard making more assists per minute than Isaiah Thomas. It is somewhat alarming, though, that the team has their premier shooter, Marcus Thornton at the end of the games, somewhat dependent upon someone feeding him the ball in crunch time.  When he has the hot hand, it is critical that someone gets the ball to him, rather than the other way around.

It is unclear whether this is by design. Keith Smart may not be making such clear demarcations between the point guards and the shooting guards. Either way, the assist numbers for the guards could be higher.

It is fairly clear the number of assists as a whole is an area needing improvement. Assists are an essential part of the game, helping to maintaining good ball movement. They could be an indirect measure of cohesiveness and chemistry.  Dishing requires some anticipation, court awareness, and willingness to setup others rather than settling for lower percentage shots. Let’s hope we will be seeing an improvement in this area in upcoming games.

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