What Is An Assist In Basketball? Everything You Should Know

A pass in basketball that immediately results in a made basket is known as an assist. The ball must be passed straight to the person who scores for an assist. Each goal can only have …

What Is An Assist In Basketball?

A pass in basketball that immediately results in a made basket is known as an assist. The ball must be passed straight to the person who scores for an assist. Each goal can only have one assist given to it.

In other words, only the person who made the final pass receives credit for “dropping the dime” if numerous passes were made before the field goal was made. This definition is exceedingly broad, which may give the impression that it is. One of the most contentious basketball statistics is the assist rate.

Many statisticians and basketball authorities may disagree on how they should be given to a player because it can be pretty subjective. Before discussing why it might be controversial, let’s first look at what this statistic can tell us about a team and a player.

Type of assist 

Illegal, secondary, and free-throw assists are the three main categories of assists in basketball.

1. Illegal Assistance

When the ball is on the rim, players are not permitted to interfere or make touch with it. This is referred to as an unauthorized point-scoring assist. If a teammate touched the ball while still touching the rim and then tapped it into the goal, that would be an illegal assist.

2. Secondary Assistance

A violation happens as a result of an unlawful assist. The opposing team receives possession of the ball at the extended free-throw line. Any player who transfers the ball to a teammate in basketball and that teammate goes on to score is given credit for a secondary assist.

There is a catch, though. The passing of the ball must occur within two seconds and take no more than one dribble for a secondary assist to be considered. Secondary Assists Per Game is a metric used to measure secondary assists. A hockey pass is another name for this statistic.

3. Assisted free throws

In basketball, a player is given credit for a free throw assist if they pass to a teammate who then makes at least one free shot after getting fouled. A teammate must be fouled within four seconds and with a maximum of two dribbles for the assist to count toward the team’s total. This is how it goes:

  • A teammate receives the ball from a player.
  • In less than four seconds, before the teammate has had a chance to dribble twice, a player from the other side fouled the teammate.
  • A teammate makes at least one free throw.
  • The player receives credit for assisting on a free throw.

Are Assists Important in Basketball?

What is an assist in basketball?

One of the most crucial stats in the game of basketball is assists. When a player is given an assist, they pass the ball just before another player makes a basket. In general, an offense benefits from having a high rate of assists each game.

Additionally, being aware of assists can help you assemble a fantastic squad of fantasy basketball players. Due to their strong propensity for scoring and setting up assists during a game, point guards are frequently selected in draughts. Any fantasy basketball owner should focus on selecting players who can score and dish out assists.

History and statistics 

Since the NBA’s inception, assists have been tracked and are now more frequently included in every position’s stat line.

While point guards still lead their teams in the current period, forwards and centers have seen an increase in their average due to the dominance of the three-point shot and the necessity to spread the floor. Guards, notably point guards, used to dominate the assist totals for a team.

Assists in the NBA and NCAA

What is an assist in basketball?

Basketball assists are defined almost identically by the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

In the NBA and NCAA, assists are counted for passes that directly lead to made baskets (i.e., passes to the same team). An assist can still be obtained after a dribble in both leagues. Most crucially, each club stipulates that the scorekeeper’s discretion is required to decide whether an assist was made.

Giving a player two points for a fast break layup is more apparent than providing an assist. Only one statistician out of two who observe the same scoring play will give the passer an assist.

A pass should only be counted as an assist if it is “a substantial aspect of the action,” according to the NCAA. The NBA, meanwhile, provides instances of assist and non-assist situations in its video rule book.

Although the NBA doesn’t explicitly state it, the video guide suggests that the last pass should be a significant play component.

What does it mean to contribute to a made basket, then directly? When the passer is primarily responsible for setting up the scorer for a shot, assists are typically given. Two instances that both involve a made layup provide light on this.

When Player B cuts to the basket while Player A has the perimeter, Player B receives the pass. Player B makes a layup after catching the ball and dribbling twice. This is to help.

Player A passes the ball to Player B after snagging a defensive rebound. Player B dribbles past half-court, evades defenders, and hits a layup on the other end of the floor. This is NOT a helping hand.

These two plays differ in that in play one, Player A’s pass directly resulted in the shot. In play number two, Player A’s key assisted in moving the ball down the court, but Player B was primarily responsible for constructing the image.

NBA Career Leaders in Assists

John Stockton is the all-time leader in assists in the NBA as of the conclusion of the 2019–2020 season. In 19 seasons, the Utah Jazz point guard recorded 15,806 assists (1984-2003).

For nine consecutive seasons, Stockton was the NBA’s top assist provider per game (1987-1996). Throughout his career, he averaged 10.5 assists per game. On the list of all-time assists leaders, Stockton is far ahead of Jason Kidd in second (12,091).

The top five are completed by Magic Johnson (10,141), Steve Nash (10,335), and Mark Jackson (10,334). The top 20 includes four NBA players who are still active:

7. Chris Paul (9,653)

8. LeBron James (9,346)

14. Russell Westbrook (7,298)

15. Rajon Rondo (7,215)

Scott Skiles holds the NBA record for assists in a single game with 30 for the Orlando Magic on December 30, 1990.

What Are Secondary Assists?

What is an assist in basketball?

The NBA started keeping track of secondary assists in recent years. A secondary assist, according to NBA.com, is “the pass that directly leads to the pass that directly leads to the made basket.”

Point guards make up a large portion of the National Basketball Association’s all-time assist leaders because they are frequently in charge of setting up plays and scoring opportunities for their teammates.

Basketball players are not compensated for assists on free throws. In instances like fast-break layups or dunks, it is typically up to the scorekeepers to determine whether a pass qualifies as an assist.


1. How many touches before it’s not an assist?
The assist is given since the pass still reached its intended target or destination. However, no assistance will be provided if there are two or more touches from opponents and more than one of those touches is deemed necessary, such as when it alters the trajectory or direction of the ball.

2. What is not an assist in basketball?
In the NBA, a pass that results in a shooting foul and free-throw scoring does not count as an assist; however, in FIBA play, it does.

3. How long after a pass is it an assist?
An assist is given to the player who made the final pass that resulted in a successful field goal, but only if the person who scored the goal rapidly moved toward the basket after receiving the access. Also, note that if inbound pass results in a field goal, it can be counted as an assist.


Giving up the rock to assist a teammate in scoring is the right thing to do and a skill that all outstanding players possess. Drawing the defenders and setting up another player for the simple shot requires expertise. So, when considering the attributes of an all-time great player, keep the ability to pass the ball in mind.

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