Although its not an official stat kept by the NHL, defenseman Brian Campbell led the Florida Panthers with 28 secondary assists last season.
Like the NHL, the NBA doesnt keep track of those type of assists either. Yet its safe to say LeBron James would lead the Heat if they did.
James recorded eight assists in Miamis 103-73 victory over Brooklyn on Wednesday night but could have had more had he not looked ahead and dished off to an open teammate who then fed and even more open teammate for the bucket.
In basketball talk, this is called a hockey assist.
In hockey, up to two assists are awarded for each goal. Some hockey fans argue basketball has it right by awarding just one assist per basket. Still, the so-called hockey assist is a good indicator of a strong passing team.
[James] could have had more [assists] if he was ego-driven, hunting for his own, coach Erik Spoelstra said. I think he had three to five hockey assists where he knew it would be a rotation where the next guy would be open. Hes looking at the play after the play after the play.
Said Dwyane Wade: Theres a lot of hockey assists on this team, a lot of guys who make plays for others.
James has long been a slick distributor of the ball almost to a fault. Since his youth days in Akron, Ohio, James has never been shy about making his teammates look better by feeding them the ball. Some have criticized James for this mentality, especially in the postseason.
Right now, however, no one is criticizing James for working the ball around. Miamis offense through the first five games has, for the most part, been a joy to watch. The Heat came into Thursday in the top five of every offensive statistical category while leading the league in points per game and field-goal percentage.
Were playing at a high level offensively and its because we have unselfish guys, James said. We dont care who shoots, we dont care who passes. Were finding the open guy and everyone on the floor is making plays. Thats all that matters.
James didnt record a single triple-double with the Heat last season but has come close to getting one already this season and probably would have Wednesday had he played in the fourth quarter. James came within a rebound of the triple-double Saturday against Denver; Wednesday he was two assists shy.
I like the way hes reading the game right now, Spoelstra said. I think [Wednesday] was one of his highest IQ games he played in the regular season, believe it or not. He was willing to come off the ball. Very few players understand what a hockey assist is without constantly reminding them. ... He can make those calculations as fast as any player Ive been around. Hes not thinking stats but whats best for the team.
James is averaging 5.6 assists per game this year with 9.8 rebounds and 22.4 points. Again, there is no stat for the good old hockey assist.
We talked about hockey assists in high school, James said. I come from a very unselfish brand of basketball as I grew up. Thats how my little league coaches taught me up through high school. Its just stuck with me.
Chris Bosh, like the rest of the Heat, have been the beneficiaries of James slick passes. James, both Spoelstra and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski have said, is a very analytical player who seems to process whats going on around him more quickly than others.