An assist in basketball is a statistic recorded when a pass by a player to another player on the same team leads to a scored basket. Assists are subjective statistics, meaning that it is up to the scorekeepers to decide whether a pass fits the criteria for an assist. The definition encompasses many types of passes, post ups, fast breaks, lobs, and specifies that the scoring player can take up to two dribbles if the pass still directly led to the basket.
Assists have been recorded since the start of the NBA, and have become a more common aspect of every position's stat line.
Guards, specifically point guards, used to dominate the assist totals for a team, and while they still lead their teams in the modern era, forwards and centers have seen their average rise with the domination of the three point shot and the need to space the floor.
Here are the types of assists in basketball:
Players are not allowed to interfere or make contact with the ball when it is on the rim. This is called an illegal assist to score points. An example of an illegal assist would be if a teammate reached up to the ball and tapped it into the hoop while it was touching the rim.
A secondary assist in basketball is credited to any player that passes the ball to a teammate and that teammate goes on to score points. But, there's a catch. For a secondary assist to count the assisting player must pass the ball within two seconds and at most one dribble.
A free throw assist in basketball is credited to a player that makes a pass to a teammate and that teammate goes on to make at least one free throw after being fouled. For a free throw assist to count the teammate must be fouled within four seconds and at most two dribbles. Here's how it works:
Players are not awarded an assist in the NBA if the scoring player got fouled and made the free throws.
Scott Skiles set the record for most assists in a single game with 30 in 1990.