Among the pleasant surprises of the 2018 NC State basketball season has been Markell Johnson’s outstanding work distributing the ball. As you may have heard by now, Johnson owns the school record for consecutive games with double-digit assists—which stands at five after last night.
Johnson is one of the top distributors in the nation, ranking fourth nationally in assist percentage and tops among ACC players. He has an assist percentage of 52.6 in ACC play, which basically means that when he’s on the floor, he’s assisting on one out of every two shots that State makes.
Since his return from suspension, he’s been content to assume a secondary scoring role and instead focus on setting up his teammates. Johnson accounts for a little under 15% of State’s field goal attempts while he is on the floor, which is well below the rate of an average player. It’s a little surprising that he hasn’t ended up assuming more of that workload now that he’s a clear-cut starter. His workload is basically what it was last season when he was logging limited minutes off the bench.
Not that this has been to the offense’s detriment, mind you. His selective shooting has helped him shoot a good percentage from the field, and obviously his teammates are benefiting from his pass-first approach.