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Assists are often kept incorrectly

In high school basketball, the assist is arguably the most incorrect statistic kept.

Not all passes that lead to a scored basket constitute as assists. In other words, an assist is not the last pass made before a shooter scores.

Why the assist is kept incorrectly

  • 1) It is left up to the discretion of the statistician to determine whether or not a pass is an assist. This means that the actual statistic relies on someone's opinion.
  • 2) People do not understand the definition of an assist.

Here are a few definitions:

"An assist is attributed to a player who passes the ball to a teammate in a way that leads to a score by a field goal."

"An assist is a pass that directly leads to a basket. This can be a pass to the low post that leads to a direct score, a long pass for a layup, a fast break pass to a teammate for a layup, and/or a pass that results in an open perimeter shot for a teammate. In basketball, an assist is awarded only if, in the judgement of the statistician, the last player's pass contributed directly to a made basket. An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player's pass led to the field goal being made."

  • 3) Many times high school stats are kept by people who volunteer to keep them, such as players from the freshmen or JV teams. These children may not have enough experience keeping stats to formulate an opinion for the assist.
  • 4) Sometimes people keeping the statistics are not looking at the court because they are recording other stats and they miss the pass that took place before the shot. If the statistician asks a person next to him/her, "Who made the last basket?" someone can definitely state who scored the basket. Those points are definitely awarded to that person. Someone keeping the stats cannot ask, "who passed to the shooter?" because the passer did not necessarily earn an assist.

This is very different from many other sports, where the person who last passed the ball is awarded an assist, regardless of whether or not the person is the reason that the scorer had an opportunity to score. Hockey even awards two assists, one for the player who passed to the player who scored the goal and another one for the player who passed to the passer.

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