Cracking the Code: Understanding the Advanced Metrics of APG in Basketball

Basketball is known for its very rich spur of rules, abbreviations and expressions that a general viewing audience may not recognise if randomly asked.

With the sport being over 100 years old and its worldwide popularity increasing, the number of basketball terms to describe various aspects of the game has kept growing.

Particularly with the modernization of technology that allows performance data about players to be tracked with much finer granularity.

For instance, we have the abbreviation “APG.”

To the basketball newcomer, this acronym would be really difficult to guess.

Have you ever wondered what it means?

Well, this article has been written to provide that very answer…

APG or Assists Per Game, is a basketball statistic that measures a player’s ability to set up scoring opportunities for their teammates. In other words, it counts how many times a player assists another player in making a successful basket. This statistic gives useful information on a player’s passing skill on the court.

Points produced in every game by each player offer teams insight into which players are putting up more points on average than their opponents.

What this does is allow coaches to make smarter judgements when picking the squads for competitive matchups.

The purpose of this article is to explain the meaning and importance of APG in the context of basketball.

It will also look at how APG interacts with other significant metrics in basketball, along with how the notion relates to the game and the players.

So, let’s get started.

How is the assists per game statistic calculated and tracked?

There are five basic categories of statistics in basketball, which are as follows:

  • Assists per game (APG);
  • Rebounds per game (RPG);
  • Points per game (PPG);
  • Blocks per game (BPG); and
  • Steals per game (SPG).

All of these are statistics bear a lot of importance when it comes to determining a player’s worth.

When it comes to the matter of assist statistics, it’s important to note that these are subjective.

Essentially, it’s up to the scorekeepers to determine whether a pass counts as an assist or not.

This is because the assist generally involves numerous meanings based on the different sorts of passes and lobs that players make on the court, and it’s made very clear that a person receiving the ball on the move can only take a maximum of two steps before going on to pass, shoot or make their own dribble.

APG, which is our focus right now, is calculated by dividing a player’s assists in a particular game or season by the number of games he or she has played.

Here’s how the formulaic version of this metric looks like:

what does APG mean in basketball - total number of assists divided by number of games played

So for instance, if a player like Kyrie Irving had 18 assists in six games, their APG would come to a figure of 3.

It therefore goes without saying that players with a higher APG figure over the course of a season are more proficient at assisting others on the court.

While points per game are arguably the most crucial metric to assess in every game, assists per game are also vital to a team’s success.

An individual’s APG average can be calculated in numerous ways, including season-long totals, single-game tallies, and career averages spanning multiple seasons and years.

Which player holds the record for the most APG in a single campaign?

John Stockton of the Utah Jazz holds the record for most assists per game in a single season, with 14.54 assists per game during the 1989–1990 NBA season.

Stockton is regarded as one of the best point guards in NBA history, and his high APG average reflects his remarkable passing abilities and selfless play.

On the other hand, Magic Johnson has the greatest career mark for assists per game with 11.19, followed by John Stockton with 10.51 and Chris Paul with 9.76 as of 2018.

And coming back closer to the present, three big men of the latest campaign (Kevin Durant and Nikola Jokic) finished in the top 25 in assists per game during the 2021–22 season.

Not only that, but Jokic finished in the top ten among centers.

That is the most rare occurrence, and fans may never see it again.

Chris Paul (10.8) and James Harden (10.3) had the greatest APG in the NBA this season, as they were the only players to average more than ten assists per game.

Two additional players averaged nine assists per game, while three more averaged eight.

It may not seem like a lot, but it illustrates exactly how important assists can be.

Earning five or more assist points every game places you in the elite tier of all players.

A high APG is almost as tough to achieve as a high points per game, which is why some teams make a very serious effort to scout and acquire playing talent that’s consistently able to deliver when it comes to this particular metric.

Does APG affect a player’s overall value?

There are several players in the NBA that have an amazing APG.

This group contains an array of superstar guards as well as a few pass-first centres and forwards.

In fact, there are more passing big men than ever before in NBA history.

APG is an excellent predictor of a player’s passing prowess on the court, particularly when it comes to creating faster and easier shots for their teammates.

It’s important to remember that not all assists are made equal; some may be tougher than others, so it’s critical to understand what counts as an “assist.”

Certain players, like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, are noted for their high assist rates; this statistic shows their overall effect on the game.

Players with high APG averages are frequently sought after by teams and can command higher salaries and contracts.

As a matter of fact, some basketball players make a living solely off of their ability to make accurate passes on the court.

Over the years, a few point guards (such as Steve Nash) have earned their living off of assists.

Furthermore, a player’s APG can affect their All-Star and MVP chances, as well as their overall reputation and legacy in the NBA.

Why are assists so important in basketball?

Assists are an integral component of basketball because they create scoring opportunities.

They are a direct antecedent to points, even though they are not regarded as direct scoring statistics.

A well-timed pass that results in a successful three-pointer or alley-oop is arguably just as important as the shot itself, because without that initial pass, the successful basket would not come to fruition.

Closing thoughts

In conclusion, you can clearly see that assists are one of the most important components of basketball.

The assists per game metric provides a great insight as to which players excel at setting up basket opportunities for their team mates.

Knowing and understanding the APG statistic as a coach can be incredibly useful, because one can create strategies that attempt to funnel more of the basketball to the most productive assisters.

If you’re interested in reading about more facts pertaining to the rules of basketball, have a look at our other article which explains what a foul is in the sport or our analytical pieces on what the GB metric means in basketball, what FG is in basketball, and what an isolation play is in basketball.

About Samuel Waihenya

Samuel is an avid fan of basketball and has been following the sport for over 10 years. He now intends to dedicate his time to produce great content for his own little basketball blog that aims to help its readership with whatever basketball-related topic they can think of. Have a read through Samuel Waihenya's author bio page here.