The NBA’s Assist Leader is an award handed out since the 1946-47 season of the BAA ( the NBA’s predecessor) when stats were first compiled. It is awarded to the player who leads the league in assists during a given regular season. It was first given out to the player who had the most assists recorded during a particular season but since 1975, the award is presented to the player with the highest assist average during a season. To be eligible, a player must play at least 70 games or have at least 400 assists during the regular season.

John Stockton is the NBA’s All-time assist leader and he holds the most number of Assists title won with nine. Bob Cousy had eight while Oscar Robertson has six. Jason Kidd and Steve Nash each have five while Kevin Porter, Magic Johnson, and Chris Paul won four each. The current Assists champion in Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets, who achieved the feat in each of the previous two seasons. Westbrook is the betting favorite to win the Assists Title again this season but he faces competition from a handful of other deserving players.

Here are the odds to lead the NBA in assists this coming season. These odds were taken from MyBookie as of 10/21/19:

Player Odds
Russell Westbrook +300
LeBron James +400
Trae Young +450
Chris Paul +650
Ben Simmons +700
Kyle Lowry +1000
De’Aaron Fox +1100
Jeff Teague +1400
Draymond Green +2000
Nikola Jokic +2000

Basketball Who Are the Favorites?

Russell Westbrook has been a triple double machine in the last couple of years. He’s averaged in a triple-double in each of the last three NBA seasons. In 2017, Westbrook broke Oscar Robertson’s record by posting 42 triple-doubles in a single NBA season and that season, he became only the second player in NBA history (after Robertson) to average a triple-double during an entire season. He topped his feat by also averaging in a triple double in the next two seasons and during those two years, he led the NBA in assists. Westbrook is the only player in the league to average at least 10 assists in each of the last three seasons and he is the only player in the league to post a double-digit assist average in the last two seasons. Russ was traded to the Houston Rockets during the summer and because he will be playing with the NBA’s top scorer from the previous season in James Harden, he is expected to have more opportunities to rack up the assists this year. So yeah, Russell Westbrook is a solid NBA betting favorite here.

LeBron James as the NBA’s assist leader? Yes, that could be possible. We know King James to be one of the most dominant players of this generation and maybe of all-time. He burst into the NBA scene straight out of high school in 2004 and has since won 3 NBA titles, 4 MVP awards, and 3 NBA Finals MVPs among others. At 6-8, he is one of the most versatile players in the league. Now playing in his 17th season, James is heading to his second season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Last year, he averaged 8.3 assists per game, 4th best in the NBA. He was the only non-point guard in the Top 10 in assists last season. James carried the load for the inexperienced Lakers last season but with Los Angeles undergoing a facelift and adding veteran talents led by Anthony Davis, Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Quinn Cook, Dwight Howard among other, James is expected to play a different role this year. With Davis around, James is expected to turn-over most of the scoring load to AD and he is likely going to be more of a playmaker this year than in any season he’s ever played.

Trae Young made waves as a high-scoring collegiate star for the Oklahoma Sooners. But not only was Young known for shooting from Steph Curry range but he was also the NCAA assists leader before he was drafted to the NBA. Young was picked 5th overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2018 NBA draft but he was traded on draft night for Luka Doncic who was the third pick by the Atlanta Hawks. Doncic turned out to be a gem for the Mavericks while Young started out slowly for the Hawks. But after a strong finish to the 2018-19 season, many believe that Trae Young is going to be as good or even better as Doncic. Young was the only rookie in the Top 10 in assists last season at 8.1 assists per game ( #7 overall) and he was also the youngest in the group. With his creativity and high basketball IQ, Young should have a better passing year with John Collins a year older plus the addition of new players like Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter, Jabari Parker, and Evan Turner.

Chris Paul was the New Orleans Pelicans 4th overall pick in the 2004 NB Draft. The 34-year old Paul is tied with LeBron James as the oldest players in the Top 5 of the current odds boar from 888sport. Paul has played for the Pelicans, Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets in the past. He was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder during the offseason and will be playing with a new set of teammates this year. Paul is a four-time NBA Assists leader and he last led the league in assists in 2015. He was tied for 5th in assists during the 2018-19 season with an average of 8.2 dimes per contest. However, CP3 only played 58 games last season due to injury. He has a career-average of 9.7 assists per game which is one of the best among the current list of favorites. The main concern with Paul is that he has missed over 20 games in each of the last two seasons with injury and he is playing for a team which traded its two best players from last season.

Ben Simmons was the Philadelphia 76ers #1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. After sitting out his rookie season with an injury, he won Rookie of the Year Honors the following season. Simmons’ stood out because at 6-10, this Aussie sensation played point guard in the NBA. Simmons drew waves during his rookie season when he averaged 8.2 assists per game which was 5th best in the NBA during the 2017-18 season. Last season, Simmons was tied for 9th in the league with an average of 7.7 assists per game and with his partnership with Joel Embiid going to its third full season, Simmons’ assist numbers are expected to even increase this coming season. The Sixers traded Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat during the offseason and Butler was one of the players who also acted as Philadelphia’s playmakers. With Butler gone and Philly getting Josh Richardson, the Heat’s leading scorer from last season, in return, Simmons will have more passing targets this year.

Basketball Who Will Be the 2019-20 NBA Assists Leader Award?

When you take a look at the list of favorites in the odds board, only Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul have ever led the NBA in assists before. Paul has done that four times but the last time he did it was in 2015 or before Russell Westbrook became a triple-double machine. Westbrook meanwhile, has led the NBA in assists in the last two seasons and is the only player in the league to average at least 10 assists per game in each of the last three seasons.

The only problem I have with Russell Westbrook is that he is playing for a new team this year. Unlike in Oklahoma City where he played as many minutes as he wanted to and where he had the ball in his hands as often as he wanted to, that won’t be the case in Houston. The Rockets have James Harden who is arguably the best scorer in the league and Harden isn’t just a scorer but also a playmaker who loves to have the ball in his hands as well. We know that both have played together as teammates for the OKC Thunder before Harden went to Houston but with two-ball dominant players, one of them could sacrifice his numbers. It’s hard for me to say that player will be Harden because he’s been cooking in Houston since he arrived there.

If we look at the other side of the coin though, Chris Paul still averaged 8.2 assists per game last season while playing alongside Harden so why can’t Westbrook do the same and maybe do a little more? If Westbrook could average at least 10 assists per game in OKC as the best scorer in that team, the possibilities could be limitless for him playing alongside the best scorer in the league in James Harden. Russ will also have other passing targets in Houston. The likes of Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker, and Austin Rivers can spot up and hit the three ball with consistency while Clint Capela is an alley-oop machine. Russell Westbrook has more options in Houston than he ever had in OKC.

I expect Trae Young and LeBron James to provide Westbrook with the biggest challenge but with Young to have more scoring load and LeBron more concerned with a title run, Westbrook will have the advantage. Ben Simmons should be more concerned with his jump shot while Chris Paul doesn’t have too many passing options in OKC right now. I’m picking Russell Westbrook to lead the NBA in assists this season.

Prediction: Russell Westbrook

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