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In basketball, an assist is attributed to a player who passes the ball to a teammate in a way that leads to a score by field goal, meaning that he or she was "assisting" in the basket. There is some judgment involved in deciding whether a passer should be credited with an assist. An assist can be scored for the passer even if the player who receives the pass makes a basket after dribbling the ball. However, the original definition of an assist did not include such situations,[1] so the comparison of assist statistics across eras is a complex matter.

Only the pass directly before the score may be counted as an assist, so no more than one assist can be recorded per field goal (unlike in other sports, such as ice hockey.) A pass that leads to a shooting foul and scoring by free throws will count as an assist (starting from the 2009-2010 season).

A player can get him or herself into position to receive an assist in a variety of ways. The main way is to come off a screen, which, if executed properly, will leave the player open for a pass, and in a position to easily score. Other times the defense will double team an offensive player, leaving someone else open. (It is the passer, not the player receiving the pass, who "receives" the credit for making an assist.) Averaging a large number of assists doesn't always mean that the player is good at passing; it could just mean that he/she makes many passes in the course of a game. A more useful metric is a player's assist/turnover ratio, which compares passes that lead to an assist to those that fall into the opposing team's hands. Of course, many other factors, such as a team's play style and teammates' scoring prowess, should be considered as well.

Point guards tend to get the most assists per game (apg), as their role is primarily that of a passer and ballhandler. Centers tend to get fewer assists, but centers with good floor presence and court vision can dominate a team by assisting. Being inside the key, the center often has the best angles and the best position for "dishes" and other short passes in the scoring area. Center Wilt Chamberlain led the NBA in assists in 1968. A strong center with inside-scoring prowess, such as the Cleveland Cavaliers' center Shaquille O'Neal, can also be an effective assistor because the defense's need to double-team him results in the offense's shooters being open outside.

The NBA single-game assist record is 30, held by Scott Skiles of the Orlando Magic against the Denver Nuggets, on December 30, 1990.

See also


  1. ^ Hal Bock, Give an assist to NBA, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 28, 2002.

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