The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team is currently second in the country in assist percentage, according to KenPom. Assist percentage is simply the number of a team’s total assists divided by the number of total made field goals.
Through nine games this season, Syracuse has assisted on 152 of its 216 made field goals, which comes out to 70.37 percent. For reference, Syracuse’s assist percentage was 50.5 percent in 2018-19.
This season, the Orange also rank No. 22 in the country in assists per game with 16.9 per contest. Syracuse’s top five players in assists are listed below, along with their assists-to-turnover ratios. A ratio of 2.0 or better is considered above average.
Coming into the season, many thought the 2019-20 iteration of the Orange could be a better overall offensive team than 2018-19. What was preconceived was that this Syracuse team would share the ball well without being overly reliant on a Tyus Battle to go one-on-one to get a bucket.
That notion has partially held true, as evidenced by the assist percentage. But Syracuse’s adjusted offensive efficiency — points scored per 100 possessions, adjusted per opponent — was actually higher in 2018-19 (110.5 percent) than this season (105.1 percent). The current season’s offensive efficiency (and assist percentage for that matter) could still be defined by a small sample size as Syracuse has only played in nine games thus far. But by offensive efficiency, last year’s team was technically better, and those numbers include a full slate of 18 ACC games.
Perhaps we still don’t have an accurate picture of this year’s team as Syracuse Orange has had volatile offensive outings, scoring 97 points on two occasions while being held to 34 points in the season opener against Virginia.
Circling back to the topic at hand, when Syracuse has scored this season it’s more often than not been on an assisted bucket. As for what that means?
I've written about this a few times, but I've gone back and forth on what this number actually means. Part of me says SU is a great passing team. Part of me also feels like the number is too high because too many guys can't create their own offense and it's warped the percentage. https://t.co/TzSnFSvq8u— Benjamin Burrows (@BenMBurrows) December 10, 2019
Is Syracuse’s assist percentage high due to good passing and a willingness to share the ball? Or does it have more to do with having players that are unable to take their defender one-on-one? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
What do you think though? Drop a comment below and engage in the discussion.
Feedback is always welcome. Feel free to tweet me @JamesSzuba