Lakers’ LeBron James becomes second all-time in NBA playoff assists
— NBA (@NBA) October 4, 2020
Obtaining the mark early in the first quarter of game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Lakers and the Miami Heat. James earned assist number 1,840 on an alley-oop pass to center Dwight Howard. While LeBron’s performance in the postseason thus far has convinced many that the 16-year veteran is capable of playing for several more seasons, James will likely need multiple playoff berths in order to catch former Laker Magic Johnson. Trailing Johnson by 506 assists after his passing of Stockton, the four-time MVP has averaged 7.2 assists per game over his postseason career–though that average has increased over this postseason run where he has served as the primary ball-handler.
That Magic was able to accrue such numbers despite only playing in 13 full seasons is even more impressive when one considers that teams operated with fewer possessions than do today, thanks to the increase of the pace of play. Earning a playoff seed every year of his career, Johnson did benefit from several long runs into the tournament, making the finals 9 times, and winning the title on different occasions. While scoring as significantly reduced rate than the current Lakers forward, Magic did average nearly 5 more assists per game in the playoffs, ending with a career average of 12.3 per game, over 190 games played, versus 260 for LeBron.
John Stockton meanwhile, played in 180 playoff games, with an average of 10.1 assists per game, though he succeeded in making the NBA Finals only twice in his 19-year career.