76ers Stats: Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid lead team in Hockey Assists
In Basketball, a hockey assist is a pass that leads to a pass that leads to a basket. The term hockey assist stems from the first of the major sports to credit players for basic official metrics. Speaking on Daryl Morey's Trash Talking Podcast, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, an analytics, and data science website, mentioned that while the NBA has tracked hockey assists (internally) is no such data available for WNBA.
This stat is not publicly shared on any official NBA stats site, so before Saturday's game versus the Charlotte Hornets, Doc Rivers was asked who leads the team in this metric. Here is my quick Q&A with Rivers Saturday Evening.
Blevins: "Hey Doc, so you've talked a few times this year about hockey assists, just heard on Darryl mores podcast, that's definitely something you guys track. So first question is, who's leading the team in hockey assists right now?"
Rivers: "Well, I think it'd be an easy one because it's usually Ben, you know, because of his ability to penetrate. And the second guy would be Joel, from the post. Joel definitely against Orlando led in hockey assists. I mean, we post the ball. He threw it out. It probably got to the third guy. But Joel started the entire action."
Blevins: It looks like off-ball screens are a focus. I've seen some improvement from last year. Do you have a stat for that? Who's leading in that as well?
Rivers: "Well, we don't have a stat for it. We know who we want to get the ball to come off the screen, so I mean, it's pretty clear. We have pretty good shooters who can catch and shoot. And we should take advantage of that."
The screen assist is a hotly debated stat in 2020 after the monster contract that the Utah Jazz agreed to with Rudy Gobert. NBA.com defines a screen assist as "The number of times an offensive player or team sets a screen for a teammate that directly leads to a made field goal by that teammate."
These two non-traditional metrics are good indicators of how players can help an offense in ways that don't show up on the box score. So far this season, the 76ers are being led by their two stars in these subtle types of stats. That is an encouraging sign of the maturity and unselfishness of their best players.