So, we are looking at almost half the season done. What are our standings and where do we need to improve. Obviously, we have to get better defensively, but I don't hear as much talk about our turnovers.
We talk about the defense all the time, but we also really need to address the TOs. We give up +1.65 more TOs than our opponents and have an average of 15.8 TOs a game. That makes us the 4th worst team in the league. We have a horrible rate of turnovers, but nobody is saying too much about that.. Why is that?
Is it because Tyreke is our PG? Is it because we are afraid to say that he turns over the ball a lot? Because he does and maybe we are a little afraid to say it out loud. Tyreke Evans turns over the ball too much. More than anybody else on the team. There I said it. Not so bad after all. That doesn't mean he is NaPG.
I set out to write this piece because TOs are an issue and then saw that our #1 TO guy is Tyreke Evans. I stopped, thought 'Man I could catch some shit over this,' and then realized I do anyway, so what the truth can't hurt that bad. Can it? We just need to be honest with ourselves and get past this, and the news on TOs gets better. There is good news on our PG of the future, but more about that later. After the bad news...
HOW TO ASSESS OUR PG? TOs?
I am no pro at BB stats, but I like to play with data (I am a geek like that) and it seems that one of the big stats to evaluate a PG is the assist to TO ratio. That seems to be a generally accepted and good measure of somebody who is running the ball at PG. So, for every assist how many TOs do our 3 guys give up?
We have three guards who run the offense (Evans, Udrich, and Sergio) and we need to really look at each of them and fairly compare them. Turns out that Beno (2.14 TOs for every five assists) is just slightly ahead of Sergio (2.24 TOs for every five assists) and, damn it, they are both ahead of Evans who has 2.94 TOs for every five assists. This is not what I had hoped for and discouraging when considering that he has the ball most of the time.
We just don't take care of the ball well enough. And, unfortunately, Tyreke Evans leads the pack with the highest average number of TOs per game at about 2.9 TOs per game and since he is averaging about fives APG the assist to TO ratios make sense. The thing is that he has the ball the most and is leading the offense so this should be no big deal, right? Evans also plays more minutes so he should also have more turnovers for this reason... right? Just taking the average per game given more minutes and time with the ball isn't fair to Tyreke Evans. In order to compare Evans, Udrich, and Sergio fairly we have to compare their turnover rates by averaging the TOs by the number of minutes they are on the floor.
So, I took the average TOs for the season, to date, and averaged that by the minutes played. I did this for the whole team, but really focused on our three guards. This way we get an average that takes into account, controls for, the time played and the fact that Evans plays more. So, how did they do? I took their TOs divided by minutes played and multiplied that by 30 minutes. That way we get a fair comparison for 30 minutes of play for each of the three. The highest number of TOs per 30 minutes is...
Sergio at 3.2 TOs
Evans at 2.3 TOs
Beno at 1.7 TOs
So, is this a fair representation of where these three are at in TOs? I am not so sure, but it may be as close as I am going to get given what I have at my disposal.
The problem is that Evans and Beno are often on the floor together and they often take turns sharing the ball. This gives them both time on the floor without running the ball which causes fewer TOs for them individually, whereas when Sergio is on the floor he is typically at PG with the ball. There are times when he isn't running the ball, but this really is, IMO, a small fraction of his time. This is important because this would affect my calculations and unfairly inflate the number of TOs for Sergio. Making his number artificially higher, but this is hard to tell. I also remember way too many circus-type passes from Sergio that turned into TOs.
The higher TO rate for Sergio might not seem to jive with the above assist to TO ratio, but it does actually works because despite more TOs for Sergio he also gets more assists per minute. Sergio leads in this category with .23 assists per minute (meaning he gets almost an assist every 4 minutes) whereas Beno and Evans are both tied at .13 assists per minute (meaning that they get an assist every 7+ minutes or so).
This was a little surprising. Not that Sergio gets more assists per minutes as he can be a passing fiend, but that Beno and Evans are tied? Interesting because I would not have thought that, but does this mean Sergio spends more time at PG when he is on the floor? Maybe, but it could be arguable. I think so in watching the games... but nothing conclusive here... Must resist descending into the data too far... Too much fun... Argh.
WHAT CAN WE CONCLUDE THEN?
We can definitely say that Evans has a higher average number of TOs per game and a worse assist to TO ratio than either Sergio or Beno. This really sucks given he spends so much time with the ball, but we have to take into account the minutes he has the ball. Given that it looks better and he is somewhere between Sergio and Beno, so maybe not so bad after all.
Now the good news, yes I saved it for last, the good news is that Tyreke Evans is improving at the TO thing. Yes, the fact that he is a rookie has to be taken into account.
His average TO per game is 2.9, but that number only tells part of the tale. The real story may be the monthly breakdown. This is the good news. He has lowered his average TO rate per game for each of the last three months.
November - 3.33 TOs per game
December - 2.54 TOs per game
January - 2.33 TOs per game
Given this the 2.9 season average doesn't look as bad. Hopefully his TO average will keep going down and level off somewhere a lot lower, but this is a rebuilding year and developing our players is part of that. It will be interesting to see where Tyreke Evans ends up in TOs.
By this account Tyreke is reducing his rate of TOs each month and that does a lot to make me feel better about our standing as 4th worst in the NBA. I know it is likely to get better as our PG of the future grows into his place in the NBA.
I also realized that our turnover problem isn't just a PG problem. We have guys that just turnover the ball way too much. Sean May, Donte' Greene, Spencer Hawes, and Jason Thompson have been the worst offenders and all have turned over the ball more than Beno and that is a problem. Turnovers are a problem, a team problem.