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Blazers’ Opponents Struggle to Assist

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The Blazers haven’t been passing the ball much this year. But neither have their opponents.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Charlotte Hornets Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers have struggled to create assists this season. They rank last in the league in both assists per game and assists per 100 possessions — it’s safe to say ball movement is not a strength.

To better understand how they’re struggling, take a look at this table which breaks assists down into component parts (huge credit to nbaminer.com for compiling the data!):

Note: Blazers’ rank for each category is in parentheses.

The table shows that the Blazers don’t just struggle to generate assists, they struggle to generate assists everywhere on the court, finishing last in 3-point assists, 2-point assists, and dunks/lay-up assists per game. Assists on 3-pointers, especially, stand out; other teams assist on as many as 95 percent of their deep balls, but the Blazers aren’t even at 70 percent.

Interestingly, however, opponents are also struggling from all over the court against the Blazers. Portland opponents shoot only 48 percent on assisted baskets and the Blazers worst defensive category, 3-point assist defense, still points them at No. 9 in the league. According to basketball-reference.com the Blazers are only giving up 18.8 assists per 100 possession. The gap between Portland and the No. 4 team, Brooklyn, is the same as the gap between the Nets and the No. 19 team.

In short, the Blazers may not be moving the ball a lot, but their style is contagious and they’ve successfully forced other teams away from ball movement as well this year.