Breaking Down the Value of 2021-22 NBA Assists Leader Accessories
The NBA season begins in less than two months. There are various player prices and futures on the books, and one of the more intriguing options is the assists per game.
Here’s a look at the best value to win the Dime title next season.
JAMES HARDEN (+120, BETMGM)
I will not lie.
I was prepared to portray this as “bad favored players” given the value of players with longer odds.
Then I came across this statistic: James Harden (+120, BetMGM) has averaged 14.8 assists per game (!!!) for the Nets in the 10 games Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have played, including the playoffs.
In the regular season, he was 12.8 in the seven games they played together, which would still have led the league.
It’s a small sample, like everything with the Nets. The Nets played at the 11th fastest pace last season. If it drops a bit, he’s more likely to be usurped, but he’s definitely the favorite for a good cause.
RUSSELL WESTBROOK (+200, DRAWINGS)
It’s a little surprising that Russell Westbrook is as short as 2-1. He’s going to the Lakers and while there’s a good chunk of the time it’s Westbrook’s ball, and even though Anthony Davis gives him a reliable pick and roll threat, there just won’t be enough minutes without LeBron James on the field and enough assists available in the minutes, they are on the field together.
Keep in mind that the last time he was next to a ball-dominated superstar in Houston, his assists fell to seven per game. James isn’t Harden, but that differential is enough to mean his chances shouldn’t be so short.
However, I think there is value over others.
$ 1,000 risk-free 1st bet
Bet up to $ 1,000 with your first bet
Get reimbursed in free bets if they lose
Big daily odds increases
YOUNG TRAE (+450, BETMGM)
Last season Young finished second among the qualifiers behind Westbrook at 9.4 per game despite being three minutes less.
Young people have an average of 13.8 cents per 100 possessions, with a utilization rate of 33%. He was sixth in use, there was no doubt he had a lot of the ball, but he still has room to increase that this season and increase his minutes to get closer to 35 per game.
Among the top 20 players for assists per game, Young was in the middle of the pack (12th) for assists conversion (the percentage of assists versus potential assists). He was already in the top three, Westbrook is likely to slip, and Young’s usage and minutes could very well increase.
One small element of concern: Young’s assists by 36 minutes dropped under Nate McMillan after Lloyd Pierce was sacked, from 10.4 to 9.8. Atlanta went from 12th in assist percentage (percentage of buckets assisted) to 21st. There are injuries (like De’Andre Hunter’s), but in general it’s something to consider.
I still think Young is the best bet outside of Harden based on use, style of play, and expectation of a raise after his playoff breakthrough.
GREEN DRAYMOND (+4000, DRAFTKINGS & BETMGM)
Yes, Draymond Green.
This number is, quite frankly, insanity.
Green was fourth for the assists title last season, tied at 8.9 per game with Chris Paul. He averages fewer minutes than Westbrook, Harden and Young. Among the top 20 players in assists per game, he had the second highest conversion rate of assists.
This puts Green in the conversation. Here is how he gets the top.
First, the schedule is more balanced this season, so Green is likely to play more minutes. Golden State’s training staff have always been at the forefront of metrics, with metrics revealing whether a player needs a night off or not, or fewer minutes. These nights are likely to cut down with an easier schedule.
Second, Klay Thompson is back. Thompson’s use will impact the rest of the Warriors, no doubt, but 75% of Thompson’s buckets, and 92% of his 3 points, in his final season in 2019 were assisted. With Thompson coming off an injury, he’s more likely to play as a point threat, not less.
Finally, the Warriors are going. Last season, they balanced not to burn Green and Steph Curry in a nightmarish season. This season, the Warriors are really going there.
Jonathan Kuminga’s draft may have signaled that they still have an eye on the future, but Moses Moody is ready to get buckets now. The bench still has a few shooters.
Green needs two more assists per game last season to beat Harden’s 10.8 from last year. That’s a lot, I’m not going to lie.
But at 40-1, with Westbrook’s use reduced to LA, if Harden isn’t able to replicate last season’s numbers for some reason, Green could very well sneak into that conversation.
CHRIS PAUL (+1200, BetMGM and DraftKings)
Paul is both the most attractive choice, from a metrics standpoint, and the one that makes me nervous the most.
The bright side: Paul was 2nd in assists for 100 possessions last year. Not only that, but he’s the only one to have approached Westbrook outside of Harden. Paul averaged 14.0 assists per 100 possessions, compared to Westbrook’s 14.9.
And his numbers should have been higher.
Among the top 20 finishers in assists per game, CP3 had the fourth lowest conversion rate for potential assists, although the Suns are 3rd in eFG%.
Paul was therefore tied for third in a game, and should even have had Following.
The bad news: Paul has just finished the longest playoff streak of his career, following the most condensed schedule of his career, with the shortest offseason of his career.
He is 36 and averaged 31.4 minutes per game last year. Paul played 70 games last year, which is extremely impressive. He could also peel it this year to manage his body. He still has some leeway to qualify, but a reduction in minutes would significantly reduce his chances.
It’s just hard to see a 36 year old Paul being able to keep track of minutes, usage, and figures after such a prolific season.
If the Suns regress a bit from last year’s formidable season, the conversion rate should go down as well. There are enough red flags here to say I can’t support this bet, but at 12-1 it’s definitely playable.
Nikola Jokic (+1800, DraftKings) had the third highest conversion rate of 20 best assists by point guard last season, which is impressive considering (a.) His roster and (b.) Jamal Murray’s injury. However, as the season progressed, teams increasingly played his pass (to which Jokic responded by scoring to compensate).
Jokic is arguably the best passer in the game today. But after playing all 72 games last year and then a playoff run, he was gassed in the playoffs. Coach Michael Malone has previously said he plans to work off the rest for the reigning MVP. Jokic was 6th last year per game and the Nuggets are playing at a slow enough pace that it isn’t.
I wanted to defend Luka Doncic (+600). But in Jason Kidd’s four years at Milwaukee, the Bucks have never finished higher than 10th in offensive efficiency. Their assists rate was good every season, but its last in 2018, but never at the top.
Meanwhile, it’s hard to argue that the Mavericks have improved significantly in the offseason. There are still tensions between Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis according to all reports. The Mavericks have lost Josh Richardson, which won’t hurt Doncic at all, and Reggie Bullock could give him a more reliable weapon.
But there’s no reason to think that the pace, style of play or approach of the Mavs will increase those numbers for Doncic. Simply playing Doncic, the favorite, for MVP should be seen as the best approach.
$ 1,000 risk-free first bet
$ 1,000 freeroll on the first bet
Only 1x reversal
Big daily odds increases