In searching for a telling statistic this week, much of my initial thoughts were simply pointing out what would be obvious to any casual observer of the Pacers: The offense is terrible, the schedule has been weak, Roy Hibbert is gunning for the Adonal Foyle award as the owner of the NBA’s worst contract, and so forth.
While perusing Basketball Reference’s stats page, however, I came across a fascinating number: 11.3%.
So far this season, the one thing that the Pacer have been able to hang their hat on has been defense. Sure, the team might have the second-worst offense and the lowest effective field goal percentage in the NBA, but the defense has been pretty stingy. Right now, the Pacers have the NBA’s best defense in fact, allowing just 98.2 points per 100 possession (which, for reference, is nearly 6 points/possession better than league average).
The difference, however, is where our 11.3% comes into play.
This is the turnover rate of the Pacers’ opponents so far this season. Turnover rate is the percentage of opponents’ possessions that end in a turnover. The Pacers are currently ranked 30th in the NBA in turnover rate and are creating turnovers on about 2.5% fewer possessions than they did last season. What this means is that while they are playing some pretty stingy defense, they are not creating the turnovers necessary to turn that defense into instant offense. They are rarely grabbing a steal and running down the court for an easy basket. They are more often just forcing the other team to miss, grabbing the rebound and then marching up the court to run a terrible offensive set that probably won’t work.
If they were able to create live-ball turnovers and get more easy baskets, perhaps that would help stimulate their moribund attack. And guys like Paul George and Gerald Green could probably benefit from just seeing the ball go through the hoop easily even one or two more times per game. For a team of frontrunners, which is how they often looked even last season, getting out and proving to yourself that you can score can make a world of difference in how you approach the offense the next few times down the floor.
Instead, the team has only scored 14.2% of its points off of turnovers this year, good for second fewest in the NBA.
Tags: Stat O' Da Week