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Turnovers By Type

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Two weeks ago I wrote a piece on young players and turnovers. I was looking for a relationship between high-turnover rookies and future success, but what got the most attention was a pair of graphs breaking down the turnovers of Jeremy Lin and Kyrie Irving by type.

Today we’re going to use the same technique, and the same numbers from player profiles at 82games, to look at the turnover breakdowns for the top twenty point guards in the league in minutes played. However, the results have a slightly different look. Using Tableau, an incredibly powerful tool I’m just starting to teach myself, I was able to create a more interactive visualization than the pie chart images I generated for Irving and Lin.

Below you’ll find a stacked bar graph. The segments of each bar are the percentage of that player’s turnovers that came from bad passes, ball-handling errors, offensive fouls, or other. The width of each bar is the overall Turnover Percentage of that player; the wider the bar the more often they turn the ball over. You can click on each segment to see the numeric value.

It’s important to remember that we are looking at turnovers by type, primarily as a ratio. The fact that Steve Nash, of our group, had the highest percentage of his turnovers come on bad passes is not to say he’s a bad passer. A more accurate interpretation would be that he rarely makes ball-handling mistakes and that he’s very aggressive with his passes. The ratio of his passes that end up as assists to those that end up as turnovers is still almost 4-to-1. However, I was surprised to see that he had the widest bar of the group, and thus turned the ball over most often. His Turnover Percentage this year is a career high 25.5%, a fact that had completely flown under my radar up until this point in the season.

It seems like the players we would think of as more the pure-passing point guards generally saw a higher percentage of their turnovers come on bad passes. I would think this is a product of solid ball-handling ability and the fact that they aren’t as often making for aggressive drives to the basket, pursuing their own scoring opportunities. One player who’s profile really impressed was Brandon Jennings. Although I think of him as slightly more shooter than slasher when looking for his own offense, his split looks a lot like Kyle Lowry, Rajon Rondo and Deron Williams. Also he had the lowest Turnover Percentage of the entire set. He’s gotten some well-deserved attention for the upwards bump in his shooting percentages this year, but he’s showing growth in several areas.

One other thing that jumped out was some of the younger guys struggling with offensive fouls. Ty Lawson had the highest percentage of turnovers from offensive fouls, but Jeff Teague and Brandon Knight were up there as well. I’m sure if you asked them to explain, it would be mostly on the officials not giving them enough respect. There are some aggressive physical veterans like Russell Westbrook and Kyle Lowry who still struggle with offensive fouls, but clearly there is a learning curve with getting into the lane and drawing contact that’s called in your favor.

Both the turnover numbers, recently discovered at, and the Tableau software, which I’ve been drooling over in the work of Dan Feldman at Piston Powered, are new to me. If you have suggestions on new angles for tweaking the numbers, or different formats for visualizing the data, please let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

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