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The Truth About Tim Frazier's Assists

Jeff Borzello tweeted an interesting stat the other day that somehow has gone unnoticed. Tim Frazier actually averages 8.2 assists a game at home but just 4.0 assists on the road. Yes, that means he assists more than twice as much at the BJC than on the road. From the naked eye, such a wide discrepancy screams of home statistician bias, since all BJC game stats are recorded by Penn State's staff. This train of thought could easily conclude that Tim Frazier's home assist totals are a product of inflation.

But is this really the case? Anyone who has followed Penn State this season knows how horribly this team has shot on the road. That has to have some effect, right? It would be an injustice to Frazier's great season if we didn't at least attempt to defend his honor and prove he earned every one of those assists.

The Standard Shooting Numbers

Obviously the success of assisting depends on your teammate making the shot. Therefore, the first step was to simply look at the team's FG% both on the road and at home. However, it's more complicated than that because one must eliminate Tim Frazier's shooting numbers from the equation. Frazier is the leading scorer (29.2% of PSU's points) and shot-taker (29% of the shots when he's on the floor), so this should have a significant impact on the numbers.

w/ Frazier FG% w/o Frazier FG% Frazier %PTs
Home 41.6% 42.7% 26.1%
Road 33.9% 30.9% 34.3%

The shooting percentages show a much bigger difference with the rest of the team when you eliminate Frazier, who apparently shoots better on the road. A 7.7% FG% difference isn't as crazy as an 11.8% difference is. That last number was listed to emphasize how much more scoring Frazier accounts for on the road. Since Frazier's scoring a higher percentage of Penn State's points in other venues, there's gotta be less made field goals from the rest of the team, right?

Rest FG/gm Frazier APG % AST / Rest FGM
Home 17.3 8.2 47.4%
Road 12.9 4.0 31.0%

As expected, the rest of the team makes over 4 less FGs a game, but the rate at which Frazier assists the rest of the team's baskets is much better at home than on the road (although this figure does not account for the FGM when Frazier is not on the floor, more on this later). That led me to think of who exactly does Frazier assist to generally? There is no way to calculate this without going through endless play-by-play logs, but I would think PSU fans would agree that most of the shots Cammeron Woodyard and Billy Oliver make are off Frazier passes. I did actually go through one play-by-play for my own curiosity; the Purdue game where Billy knocked down 7 three-pointers. Five of those shots were assisted by Tim. Anyway, neither of those guys have shown any ability to create their own looks off the bounce, so how have they fared at home versus on the road?

Home 45.8% 42.7% 20.4 6.6 36.3% 33.8%
Road 21.1% 30.4% 10.1 3.4 22.8% 29.4%

Yikes. We all knew Woodyard had away-from-BJC issues, but that's an astounding difference. Clearly both of these guys are much more productive at home than on the road, but they still take nearly the same percentage of Penn State's shots. The last two percentages are the combined Billy and Cam production from the rest of the team's total production, aside from Frazier. There's no doubt in my mind that these guys' shooting woes on the road definitely take away a few potential Frazier assists.

The Tempo-Free Numbers

Tempo-free gurus measure assists by a statistic developed by Ken Pomeroy called assist rate. It was designed to estimate the percentage of assists one makes on the team's made field goals when he was on the floor. That previous half-hearted attempt didn't take into account the baskets made while Frazier was on the bench. Honestly though, Frazier is rarely ever not on the floor (just 8% of the time to be exact), so it's likely there's not going to be much difference. The assist rate formula is as follows: Assists / ( Team FGM * Min% - FGM).

Home 91.7% 106 75 300 52.9%
Road 92.2% 40 63 192 35.1%

The home/road disparity is nearly identical to the other rate I calculated above. Frazier obviously is assisting at a significantly higher rate at home than on the road. However, it was also noted that Frazier accounts for more of the scoring, as well. I looked to see the percentage of Penn State's field goals Frazier had a hand in, whether assisting or scoring.

TF MIN% TF %FG AST Rate Total % of FG
Home 91.7% 27.3% 52.9% 65.8%
Road 92.2% 35.6% 35.1% 58.2%

Frazier still has an incredible rate of scoring or assisting PSU points when he's on the floor. But despite shooting better on the road, the greater percentage of Penn State's field goals is because no one else is scoring. Frazier averages just 1 more point on the road than at home (18.6 to 17.6). So if Penn State's do-everything point guard is actually more efficient on the road but is still producing relatively the same scoring output, how bad is the rest of PSU? It's hard to quantify that, but I just took a simple look at Penn State's offensive efficiency at home versus on the road.

Home 13 67.5 63.8 1.06
Road 10 54.3 64.5 0.84

No one disagrees that it is much harder to play on the road in college basketball, but holy crap. If Frazier is actually more efficient scoring on the road, then the rest of the team drags down the total efficiency by essentially a quarter point per possession. Over a 64 possession game, that's 16.25 points. After seeing all of this, is it really that hard to believe Tim Frazier averages half as many assists on the road than at home?

It's a shame, too, because Frazier's assist rate on such a poor shooting team is more impressive than most realize. Penn State shoots 48.1% eFG% at home (which would be good enough for 198th in NCAA) and 38.5% on the road. If Penn State was just an average shooting team, Frazier's assist rate would be around his 52.9 home mark. The only numbers in that ballpark were JJ Barea of Northeastern in 2005 (52.1) and 2006 (54.2), and Travis Diener (53.3) of Marquette in 2005. If you must know, both of Barea's teams shot over 50%, while Diener's team was 49.8%.

Somehow Frazier has a 46.4 assist rate on a team shooting 44.3% eFG% (his shots excluded). Unfortunately Penn State still has two more road games against top-5 defenses in Wisconsin and Michigan State, so it's likely to fall a little before the season is over. It doesn't help that Billy Oliver is indefinitely out of action either. No one would be surprised to see that rate fall to around 40% or lower. But how does it compare now to some of the best point guards in the game?

Player Min% AST Rate Team eFG%
Tim Frazier (PSU) 92.0 46.4 44.3
Scott Machado (IONA) 87.2 44.6 55.8
Kendall Marshall (UNC) 78.8 43.1 51.3
Scoop Jardine (SYR) 57.5 37.5 52.8
Jordan Taylor (WIS) 88.9 27.5 51.6
Pierre Jackson (BAY) 71.0 39.3 54.7
Vincent Council (PROV) 90.9 43.7 50.6
Phil Pressey (MIZZ) 78.4 32.0 58.7
Trey Burke (MICH) 87.1 30.2 54.5
Aaron Craft (OSU) 73.6 27.1 53.5

*Numbers used from and

Most of these guys in this table made the recent list of Cousy Award finalists. This was not compiled to make some kind of case that Frazier is better than all of these guys. Frazier's different, because no man should be depended upon as much as he is for Penn State this year. His subpar shooting and turnover numbers reflect his ridiculously high usage. However, considering he has the best assist rate despite playing on one of the worst shooting teams in the land, am I wrong to suggest Frazier could be the best setup man in the game today?
Strength Of Schedule

One might make the argument that the strength of Penn State's home schedule is significantly easier than their road slate. I would agree. If PSU played weaker competition at home, then perhaps Penn State scored more points and Frazier had more assists against it. I went through and eliminated games against teams ranked 200+ in KenPom's ratings. That method eliminated 5 games (4 home, 1 away).

w/ Frazier FG% w/o Frazier FG% Frazier %PTs
Home 41.9% 43.0% 28.4%
Road 33.4% 30.7% 34.1%

These percentages were nearly identical to the ones at the beginning of this post, so I didn't think it would be worth following through with the rest of the stats. Besides, Penn State is not very good. I don't think it's fair to judge on their performance against top 100 opponents, since that would include all teams that are strictly better than them. Obviously the numbers would be worse against those guys.

***Disclaimer - Woodyard has missed one game this season and Oliver has missed the last 4. These were taken into account. The combined percentages only accounted for the 18 games they played together.

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