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Oklahoma City Thunder: Dissecting the Thunder's turnover troubles

A review of the Thunder's 109 turnovers thus far yields evidence of what's been evident in almost every game this season — many of the turnovers are the result of trying to make the right play.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: November 10, 2012

Sometime in the next few days, Thunder coach Scott Brooks has plans to perform a film study. He'll dial in on turnovers, dissecting each and every one his team has had this season with the hope of getting to the bottom of why ball security continues to be the Thunder's biggest bugaboo.

He'll have to allot plenty of time.

Through six games, the Thunder has averaged 18.2 turnovers. Only two teams have averaged more giveaways: Houston, with a league-worst 19.8 average, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who come to town Sunday night carrying an 18.3-turnover rate.

For the Thunder, it's a concerning continuation of the same chronic hiccups that held it back at times last season, when Oklahoma City finished last in the league in turnovers with 16.3 per game.

“Sooner or later, hopefully sooner, it comes together,” Brooks said. “But it definitely has to get better.”

No team in NBA history has ever won a championship after leading the league in turnovers in the regular season. That's why the issue is such a critical one. Though the Thunder last year came three wins shy of becoming the first team to do so, that success doesn't excuse the problem.

“That's not the way you want to play,” said reserve point guard Eric Maynor. “Just because we made it last year doing that; it doesn't happen often, put it like that.”

Whenever Brooks does dive in to break down the film, he'll likely be pleasantly surprised at his findings. A review of the Thunder's 109 turnovers thus far yields evidence of what's been evident in almost every game this season — many of the turnovers are the result of trying to make the right play.

For example, 41 turnovers are from bad passes. That accounts for 38 percent of the team's turnovers. While all of those bad passes weren't necessarily good passes, it's a statistic that illustrates the correct process has sometimes ended in the wrong result.

It's a reality that the Thunder ultimately can live with.

“This year's turnovers are guys trying to make the right play,” Maynor confirmed. “In the past, turnovers were from guys trying to do too much. And we all know that when you try to do too much you're going to turn the ball over sometimes. But when you're trying to make the play, Scotty's not getting mad at that.”

The unselfish play has come at a price but clearly is paying off. The Thunder's assists are up 3.3 per game, from 18.5 last season to 21.8 this year. As a result, more players are scoring threats. Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin all are averaging at least 18 points, and Serge Ibaka, the biggest beneficiary of the ball movement, is averaging a career-high 14.7 points.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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A look at the various ways the Thunder has turned the ball over this season.

Category: Turnovers

Bad pass: 41

Lost ball/stolen: 21

Offensive fouls: 18

Lost ball/out of bounds: 12

Traveling: 8

Shot clock violation: 4

Offensive goaltending: 2

Double dribble: 1

3-second violation: 1

Backcourt violation: 1


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