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Heat’s ball movement has team talking hockey assists

Nov 9, 2012, 8:41 AM EDT

Heat forward James looks to pass under pressure from Celtics forward Bass during their NBA basketball game in Miami Reuters

LeBron James gets the ball on the wing and drives, blowing past his man and toward the lane and quickly the rotations start and the defense collapses on him. LeBron draws the defense in then kicks it out to Dwyane Wade who quickly makes the extra pass to Ray Allen in the left corner. He drains the three.

Allen gets the points, Wade gets the assist and LeBron… nothing. In hockey he also gets an assist (there are two per goal) but as there are a handful of scoring plays a game is something the sport can track.

But the Heat, they are tracking it this year. They report LeBron had three in Monday night’s game and nine for the season so far, reports Tom Haberstroh at ESPN’s Heat Index.

If you have seen the Heat play this season, you have seen some quality ball movement. They are comfortable in their system now and are playing unselfishly. Coach Erik Spoelstra is analytics driven so he wants to keep tables on that movement.

“Very few players have an understanding what a hockey assist is,” Spoelstra said. “(LeBron) is able to read the

situation and make the hockey assist knowing that it’s going to take one or two passes for a wide open shot. He can make those calculations as fast as any player I’ve been around….”

Chris Bosh only has seven regular assists this season, but he has more hockey assists (four) than any of his teammates not named LeBron James. That’s part of a big man’s job, to kick out to shooters and restart the offense if there’s nothing there in the post.

The biggest recipient of hockey assists? That would be Allen, who has made six shots via the extra pass, all of which are three-pointers.

You know what your dad called the hockey assist? Good basketball. It’s not new, we just saw a lot less of it when the game drifted toward more isolation plays. Now that pendulum has started to really swing the other way.

Miami is not the only team tracking this stat internally, they just seem to have more of it to track than other teams. And the internal recognition that comes with it makes players even more likely to make that pass.

Just watch a Heat game and you’ll see what I mean.

  1. hehateme2 - Nov 9, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    Simply the best…. better than all the rest.

  2. southbeachtalent - Nov 9, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    Revolutionizing the game..

  3. nbascreed - Nov 9, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Tracking “hockey assist” is a great idea! I wonder why we give credence to so many of these journalist and nerds who’ve never played and come up with utterly useless 2nd and 3rd order stats (FG% Offense / FG% Defense * PER * (RPG per 48 + PPS) when things like this are MUCH more informative and intuitive in telling us the utility of a player.

    My vote is it makes those nerds and journalist feel important to come up with useless stuff that very few people can understand and even fewer people can apply. Kudos to the Heat of KISS!

  4. 1972wasalongtimeago - Nov 9, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Good times

  5. davidly - Nov 9, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    Pippen was a great hockey assist-man. So was whoever passed the ball to Bird.

  6. zblott - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Talk about making up more stats for star players. Over 95% of “hockey assists” in basketball aren’t planned and require no skill; it’s simply a guy who passes the ball to a good passer and then takes credit for a good passer’s abilities and vision. I’m not saying LeBron doesn’t help create easy baskets for teammates a few passes away, but this new stat is complete bollocks in a really high amount of cases.

    Even assists themselves are already so dependent on other factors (passing to big men near the hoop who hits 55% of his shots is the easiest way to rack them up, even if passing to a 3-point shooter who sinks them at 37% provides a better rate of return to a team’s offense) that adding a layer to this just so LeBron and DWade can have some more stats that sound impressive but without any context at all in considering them (How many did MJ and Pippen’s teammates have? no one has a clue, but I bet it’s a ton) is just stupid.

    Are teams really going to start trading for otherwise un-noteworthy PG’s because they have 1.3 hapg? No, because we all know the hockey assist is even far more dependent on the team’s style of play than just an assist, so it’s value in telling us anything helpful being done by the player is far too diluted in the vast majority of cases.

  7. progress2011 - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    This is an example of what “FUNDAMENTAL BASKETBALL” is supposed to look like.

    It is swinging the ball, to create an opportunity for the shot with the highest percentage.

    Fundamental Basketball IS NOT – jacking up every possible shot, no matter how many defenders are on you, creating the lowest percentage opportunity available…… an attempt to MIMIC M.J. (aka kobe the wanna-be).

    • cosanostra71 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:17 PM

      This story had nothing to do with Kobe. Glad to see you are insecure enough about his legacy you had to bring him into the discussion.

  8. hwatt - Nov 9, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    “but as there are a handful of scoring plays a game is something the sport can track.”

    My head asplode.

  9. scalfor3 - Nov 9, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    I hate bron and the heat, but their ball movement is sick

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