Before the All-Star Break the Indiana Pacers were turning the ball over on average 15.3 times a game, but in the last 14 games, they’ve cut it down to 13.1.
The problem is, it hasn’t translated into any better offense. Turnovers, or the lack of, hasn’t correlated with offensive efficiency. Their offensive rating in the last 14 games stands at 101.4, and before the All-Star Weekend, it was 102,
They’re only passing the ball six times less a game than in the first half of the season, so it isn’t as if they’ve started running a bunch of isolation plays and cut down on turnovers by not even bothering to pass. The pace is only about one possession slower than the first 53 games.
So what gives? Why isn’t the offense better?
Let’s start by instead of looking at why the offense isn’t better, and looking at that there doesn’t appear to be a solid correlation between turnovers and offensive efficiency.
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When you look at the league leaders in turnovers, you see a mix of the league’s worst (Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns) and the best (Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder), as well as average teams in the top 10. Even if you look at the turnover ratio, you still get a mix of good and bad teams. You see the Warriors are closer to league average in TO ratio, and you are reminded that they are breaking the NBA, but that isn’t why were here. The teams that lead the league in pace are often near the top in turnovers, so turnovers don’t really tell us whether or not a team’s offense is good or bad. If anything, turnovers can be a symptom of certain issues, but they aren’t a be all, end all when it comes to judging offense.
There are some positives to find as well after the All-Star Break as far as who is turning the ball over less. Paul George still has the highest usage rate on the team at around 30, but he’s cut his turnovers ratio from 12.9 to 8.6. When PG is doing as much as he does, he can’t be as turnover prone as he was in the first part of the season. Ellis has cut down his turnover to 9.3 after it was 13 to start the year. Considering Ellis’ role as a primary ball-handler, this is very important.
If I had to hazard a guess to why the offense has stagnated while cutting down on turnovers — emphasis on hazard — I’d point to the fact they Pacers are shooting fewer 3-pointers and making less of them. Part of this might be from C.J. Miles losing his shooting touch, it doesn’t help that both Paul George and George Hill’s percentages have dropped too. Monta is making more of his 3-point attempts, but that isn’t enough to make up for everyone else’s missed shots. The Pacers offense was ranked 12th at the end of December, but as the shots stopped falling and their eFG% and TS% dropped, they’re now 26th in offensive rating. Their defense has sagged too, and they’re just breaking even in net rating in the month of March.
Cutting down on turnovers might help the Pacers offense in a vacuum, but if they can’t make shots — especially from 3-point range — then it does them little good. If Indiana can find their shooting touch again, then committing fewer errors will help improve the offense.
Yes, the Pacers may have solved their turnover problem, but they still have other issues to sort out.