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Perk and Rondo: Return of the Turnover Problem

 

Picture 8Kendrick Perkins turned the ball over six times last night, including four traveling calls. It seemed like an extreme performance, but it’s really the continuation of a trend.

In his last 11 games, Perk has turned the ball over 41 times.

In his last 11 games, Rajon Rondo has turned the ball over 44 times.

That’s eight turnovers per game between two players. And as well as these two guys have played, that’s just too many. Right now, there isn’t a more turnover prone center-point guard combo in the starting line-up of any NBA team.

Rondo is going to turn the ball over. He’s the point guard, he handles the ball all the time and he takes some risks. He’s still 7th in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.36), and that’s an improvement over his mark in that category (3.18) from last season.

Even so, Rajon’s turnover rate remains high. (Turnover rate is an estimate of how often a player turns the ball over on possessions during which he tries to do something with it). Rondo’s turnover rate—now sitting at 18.5 percent—is the 10th-highest among 71 guards who have played at least 500 minutes this season, according to Basketball Reference. That’s actually a (slight) improvement over last year’s number (a shade over 19 percent), and it’s something I’m willing to live with considering Rajon’s central role in the offense. Still—cutting the turnovers from four per game to three would be helpful.

(Side note: Chris Paul has the third-lowest turnover rate among those 71 guards. Chris Paul is insanely good).

Perk’s turnovers are more worrisome, since a) he’s a center and he doesn’t handle the ball in high-risk situations as much; and b) none of his six turnovers last night were illegal screens. As I’ve written before, I can live with the illegal screens; he gets called for one or two per game (on a bad night) and the extra oomph he puts into his screens—the very thing that results in officials deeming some of them illegal—is a net plus for the C’s in the long run, because of the extra space he creates for teammates.

But  things get more problematic when you mix in traveling calls (four last night, three on Sunday), shot clock violations and no-chance-in-hell passes out of double-teams.

Perk has always been turnover prone. His turnover rate has been over 20 percent in each of his six prior seasons in the league. That’s bad.

But he had been better this season. He was under 20 percent after about 25 games, and he was a much more efficient offensive player as a result.

Now? He’s up to 22.3 percent, which is the 8th-highest figure among 85 players 6’10” or taller that have played at least 200 minutes this season, according to this data dive on Basketball Reference. And only two of the guys above him on that list—Tyson  Chandler and the out-for-the-season Joel Pryzbilla—average more than 10 minutes per game.

The C’s have been a high-turnover club in each of the last three seasons. They have averaged between 15 and 16.5 turnovers per game in each season during that span and have ranked among the bottom five teams in overall turnover percentage each year.

This isn’t going to change. The C’s are going to commit a lot of turnovers. I’m not asking them to turn into the Hawks or the Heat. But a little bit of care can make a huge difference. The C’s are practically unbeatable (50-10 since the start of the ’08 season) when they turn the ball over 12 or fewer times. They remain a very good club when they simply stick to their average turnover rate; they are still 40-21 in that same span when they commit 17 or more turnovers, according to Basketball Reference.

But other facets of Boston’s game have to be extra good for them to win those high-turnover games against good teams. Not enough of those things were extra good against Atlanta last night, and they lost.

Sure, it’s better to play sloppy in January than in May. But the C’s—especially Perk—need to get this cleaned up before it becomes a habit.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    Good dig.

    It seems to me that perk has been getting the ball outside the paint and/or on the move a lot more lately. Also, he seems to be trying to expand his game by making moves out there, as opposed to just dishing off.

    Not sure if this is because he’s trying to step-up with KG out, or if he’s just trying to take his game to the next level. Either way, I like that he is being aggressive so I’ll cut him slack on the TOs for now….

  • DeVelaine

    Dirty play that I see a lot of players sometimes get away with is nudging or pushing the player from behind to get a travel call. I’ve seen KG do it more times than I can count (going back into his days in MIN), and I was watching Horford do it last night. Every team seems to have one or two players that like this trick when defending in the post. The fact that it is somewhat successful probably causes a few extra turnovers that look unforced.

  • Cptn Bubbles

    I would love to see Perk develop a hook shot. Remember how good the Buck’s Aussie looked with his flippy hooky shots vs Perk? Perk played, what I thought was, good D on him, but those shots were unstoppable.

    I hate to bring it up, but Kareem’s sky hook was a force to be reckoned with. It also was very demoralizing because the defense would just shake their heads & look at each other. It’s hard to believe that no pro tries to master a hook shot.

    I think the hook could bail Perk out of some situations. Also, some bigs take ballet to work on their footwork. Maybe we could fly Baryshnikov in? There needs to be a bail out play when Perk picks up his dribble & gets frustrated. There should be some way to set a screen & cut someone to the hoop on Perk’s side where Perk can expect it & make an easier pass. It seems to me that Perk gets more turnovery when he tries to do too much / feels he has to dunk. When he just takes it to the hoop for a reverse lay up or something simple like that he looks great (although I do love his dunks. Voted for you today Perk).

    With Rondo, I don’t ever want to see a passive Rajon. I want him to be aggressive & take ‘some’ chances (the bigger the lead the more the chanceometer goes up). As long as he is not telegraphing passes or throwing it into a double teamed Perk etc. I expect a few to’s. Also, the final 5 minutes of games should be the high percentage play or pass if it is close. I thought Rajon (& everybody) looked exhausted last night. Back to backs & no subs. What’s up with that Tibbs? I think the coaches let the team down last night, but the great thing is to learn now & make better decisions next time.

  • Jason

    Just want to say that Rondo’s first TO was an entry bounce pass into Perk that clanged right off his hands to a Hawk. Rondo was given the TO. That’s how things are scored, but that’s not Rondo’s bad play, it’s Perk’s. Another TO of Rondo’s was him getting ridden out of bounds by Smith, but no call.

  • tm

    This might be unrelated, but why was the offense flowing through Big Baby and Perk at the end of the Hawks game?

    Yes I do think they are asking too much of Perk.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    @ capt bubbles: perk has the heaviest gallop in the league…and don’t know if they make those little pink slippers in his size. baby davis is talking nfl, but he might have a better shot at ballet with those baby hops he breaks into. boston ballet presents swan lake starring big baby davis.

    sorry, couldn’t resist :)

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