By Brendan Hall
Not all turnover totals are built the same. That’s why coaches look to this stat as one of the biggest determining factors in a game’s outcome.
By nature of the sport, anything you try to eliminate for yourself on offense, you’re trying to force on defense.
That’s why if you believe effective field goal percentage is the No. 1 determining factor between wins and losses for high school teams, you probably believe turnover percentage is close behind.
Why a percentage over a simple cumulative total? For one, turnover percentage gives you a better idea of how you’re taking care of the ball when pace is considered. A team that racks up a big number of turnovers may simply be playing at hyperspeed, and thus not all that bad.
For another, there are few statistics that affect a team’s effective field goal percentage more than this one. Think about it the more you turnovers you force, the more missed opportunities your opponent will have to score or get an offensive rebound.
How It Works
Let’s compare two teams playing in different games on the same night. Team A commits eight turnovers, while Team B has 12.
Team A ran a slower-paced game, and had 24 total possessions, while Team B was in a faster-paced game with 40 total possessions.
Who had a tougher night in the turnover battle?
To find out, divide the total amount of turnovers by total possessions for a team using this formula: TO/(FGA + .475 x FTA + TO)
Once you’ve run the numbers, you’ll learn that this really wasn’t a bad night for Team B.
How Coaches Value It
Why turnover percentage over a more traditional stat like assist-to-turnover ratio? Just looking at the two stats, without any understanding of the flow of the game, the former paints a more complete picture than the latter.
Assist-to-turnover without context might be able to tell you whether someone is a good decision-maker or not. But turnover percentages can tell you so much more. How do they respond to pressure? Are they distributing the ball cleanly? Are they securing it well enough? Are they playing good enough defense?
“It’s huge. That gives me a tool,” says Orange City University High (Fla.) boys basketball coach Robert Soler. “If I’ve got a kid who’s trending at 10, 12, 13 [percent], and then he shoots to 18, you’ve got to pay attention. Then let’s say a kid is averaging 13 – 14 and then drops to 6 – 7. I can tell him, ‘That’s a hell of a game, son, you were perfect.’”
As we mentioned, turnover percentage can have a varying effect on effective field goal percentage. Forcing a live-ball turnover can often lead to an open layup for your team. The more easy field goal opportunities you can create for yourself, the greater your chances of increasing that percentage.
How You Can Use It
This is a great tool for scouting, both yourself and your opponents.
In fact, turnover percentage should be one of the first things you should look at when sizing up foes. This will give you an idea of how you should defend them. For instance, if your opponent has a high percentage, you might want to apply an aggressive defense — maybe it’s an attacking zone, man-to-man or even a press. If their percentage is lower, you might opt instead to sit back and try to control the boards.
And once again, it’s also really valuable to pair lineup data with turnover percentage. Seeing how each of your lineups rank with turnover percentage can offer some suggestions about how you can better stagger minutes among your top-performing players.
Looking at your upcoming opponent, let’s say a particular lineup of theirs is especially troublesome in the turnover department. Maybe you can install a specific pressure package just for that match-up.
Looking at this stat for individuals might also unearth some new discoveries. Maybe there’s a bench player who’s been demonstrating great ball security in limited minutes. And when scouting your next opponent, you notice they love to play pressure defense. This would be an opportune time to give more minutes to that kid with the low turnover percentage.
There’s really no end to the benefits of reliably tracking turnover percentage. Let Hudl Assist give you a head start. You’ll get a more complete depiction of how you’re taking care of the ball when every stat is tied directly to video.
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