Today’s Sportstat: March 23, 2020
Truth or fiction? LeBron James is leading the NBA in assists
One of the more interesting storylines in the NBA this season has been LeBron James and his assist numbers. Yes, that is LeBron James leading the NBA in assists per game, 10.6, and most assists this season with 636.
To put this in perspective, James has never led the league in assists during his 17-year career, however, he has seen his name in the Top 10 in several seasons. His 10.6 assists per game this year is the highest of his career (his previous high was 9.1 assists per game in 2017-18) and his 636 assists this season is 111 shy of his career mark of 747 in 2017-18, but if the NBA season had not been put on hold due to COVID-19 there’s a good chance he would have exceeded that number this season.
Let’s not forget that James is doing all this at the age of 35 (he turned 35 on December 30).
Let’s dig a little deeper into James’ assists numbers for this season.
- If he ends this season with 10 or more assists per game, he will become only the second player in NBA history to average 10 or more assists in a season at age 35 or older. The other player is Steve Nash who averaged 11.0 assists per game at age 35, 11.4 at age 36 and 10.6 at age 37. The only other player to average 9.0 or more assists in a season at age 35 or older was Jason Kidd in 2009-10 when he averaged 9.1 assists per game at age 36.
- With 636 assists and 1,344 points this season, James becomes the fourth player in NBA history to have 600 or more assists and 1,000 or more points in the same season at age 35 or older. Lenny Wilkins did it in 1972-73, John Stockton did it in 2001-02, Steve Nash did it twice, in 2009-10 and 2010-11, and James this season.
- There have been 98 players in league history who have totaled 600 assists and 1,500 points in a season (any age). James and Lenny Wilkens are the only two players on this list to reach these numbers at age 35 or older; both were 35. The youngest on the list is Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks who in his rookie season this year has amassed 653 assists and 1,549 points. He is 20 years old.
- Oscar Robertson holds the league record for most seasons with 600 assists and 1,500 points in the same season. He did it 10 times in his Hall of Fame career. Gary Payton, Isiah Thomas and Russell Westbrook each had six such seasons and Stephon Marbury had five.
- The Bucks have had two players reach 600 assists-1,500 points in the same season. Oscar Robertson did it in 1970-71 when he had 668 assists and 1,569 points. The other player was Sam Cassell in 1999-2000; in that season he had 729 assists and 1,506 points.
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