LeBron On Pace To Shatter Forward Assists Record
I've become so accustomed to the 30-7-7 stat line which LeBron James has routinely accumulated on a regular basis in recent years that it's hard for his statistical accomplishments to surprise me at this point. But when I checked his season stat line recently, the 8.5 assists per game jumped out at me, as it sure seemed very high, even by LeBron's standards.
Sure enough, when I plugged in a request to Basketball Reference, asking for the most assists per game by a forward in a single season, I was startled by the results. Here are the top 15 single seasons by a forward:
- 1. LeBron James, '09-10: 8.5
2. Larry Bird, '86-87: 7.6
3. Larry Bird, '89-90: 7.5
4. John Havlicek, '71-72: 7.5
5. John Havlicek, '70-71: 7.5
6. Grant Hill, '96-97: 7.3
7. Larry Bird, '90-91: 7.2
8. LeBron James, '07-08: 7.2
9. LeBron James, '04-05: 7.2
10. LeBron James, '08-09: 7.2
11. Scottie Pippen, '91-92: 7.0
12. Grant Hill, '95-96: 6.9
13. Larry Bird, '85-86: 6.8
14. Larry Bird, '91-92: 6.8
15. John Havlicek, '69-70: 6.8
Obviously, the big catalyst in pushing LeBron's assists up to another level has been the spate of injuries to the Cavs backcourt, most notably to point guard Mo Williams, which has increased James' responsibilities as a distributor.
LeBron was ahead of Bird's pace prior to Mo's injury, as he was averaging 7.7 assists per game in the first 43 games, but then took a big jump when Mo went out:
- LeBron James 2009-10 assists
Before Mo injury: 43 games, 7.7 apg
During Mo injury: 11 games, 10.5 apg
Since Mo's return: 4 games, 10.8 apg
Further, James' assists have proven to be even more valuable because he is especially adept at finding players for three-pointers. While LeBron ranks 6th in the league in assists per game overall, he is 3rd in assists per game which lead to three-pointers, at 2.7 per game, according to Hoopdata, trailing only Chris Paul (3.1) and Steve Nash (2.7).
All told, it's been a monster February for LeBron, as he's averaged a 32-7-11 on 50% FG in carrying the Cavs through their stretch of injuries. When all is said and done, I think LeBron James' 2009-10 season will go down as the greatest passing season by a forward ever, though I suppose that shouldn't be surprising, because LBJ is not too far away from having the greatest season ever by a forward, period.