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Who’s To Blame For C’s Turnover Problems?

We trust you guys have been following former CelticsHub writer Zach Lowe’s new blog over at SI called The Point Forward He’s been keeping close tabs on the NBA and unsurprisingly has kept the microscope on the C’s turnover problem, one of his notorious pet peeves about this team.

So it comes without surprise that Zach just had a great post today at The Point Forward dissecting the C’s turnover problem and found the team’s main perpetrator in the (transition) turnover game….and the answer may surprise you: Is it really all Rajon Rondo’s fault? It appears most of it is (at least in the transition game) The half court game? That’s a whole other can of worms with plenty of blame to go around. For now though, Zach talks transition:

Only one team, the Timberwolves, turned the ball over more in transition than Boston, which coughed it up on 13.8 percent of all fast-break opportunities. Most teams turn the ball over on about 10.5 percent of their transition chances. Boston’s stat is awful because it rarely runs and produces wonderful looks when it does run and manage to avoid turning over the ball. The Celtics ranked 15th in points per possession in transition, suggesting they are an efficient fast-break team — except for the turnovers.

After watching all 197 of Boston’s transition turnovers (no, really. I did. And it was torture) from last season, there is one uncomfortable yet inescapable conclusion:

It is largely Rajon Rondo’s fault. To be clear, he is a fantastic player whose creativity fuels just about all of Boston’s half-court offense, and he is excellent at one specific transition play — dribbling into the foul line area and shoveling the ball to a trailing three-point shooter. His expertise on this play could single-handedly prolong Ray Allen’s career. But the rest of his transition game needs lots and lots of work.

The overall Synergy stats back me up: Rondo produced just 0.99 points per possession on fast breaks he finished (with a turnover or a shot, mostly), a mark that ranked 245th in the league. Official scorers blamed Rondo for 73 of those 197 turnovers (37 percent), but it was really worse than that. Many turnovers assigned to others were actually Rondo’s fault.

A couple more items of note from Zach’s piece. The C’s struggled largely with pick and rolls:

On pick-and-roll plays in which the ball-handler finished the play, only eight teams turned the ball over more often than Boston last season. This would seem to point the finger at Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce, who serve most often as the ball-handler in these situations.

Zach also breaks down the other parts of the C’s game in great depth that cause the ballhandling woes and the other culprits within the offense. Any surprises in there? I know there were a few for me, so go read for yourself at The Point Forward

  • Morpheus

    Hmm interesting,i've seen a couple passes Rondo has tried to make that are real head scratchers.Like his bounce passes for example the bounce pass to Shaq against Miami.Shaq just looked at Rondo as if to say "dude what did you want me to do with that".Rondo does look erratic at times i think that comes from him not having a reliable jumper.He needs to attack and create,where as if he had a decent jumpshot,defenders would play him closer thus creating more space and opportunities for our bigs in the paint.
    I don't think this turnover thing is going to go away anytime soon,we've had it ever since the Big 3 came into existence and looks like it's getting worse.
    This HAS TO BE the MAIN,primary area of FOCUS to address for Doc this season.We don't stand a chance to get to the finals if this keeps up.

  • Morpheus

    Thing is we've been together for 3 years now and it's still happening.
    I like the point about Ray Allen too.He tends to dribble quite a lot into the paint/traffic and ends up forcing kick out passes normally resulting in turnovers.

  • Zach Lowe

    Hey, all. For the record, the post focused only (or mostly, anyway) on transition turnovers. Lots more work to do on half court TOs.

    • I_Love_Green

      Zach is back! Yessssssssss!!!

  • TedL – Sophomore

    Zach, to cover the half-court turnovers, you might need a new webpage, maybe a whole new 'net.

  • Morpheus

    Thanks Zach,love your work

  • Zach Lowe

    @Ted: Well done. @Morpheus: Thanks. And rest assured, I'm here, reading the Hub every day. And still rooting for the Green of course.

    • Josh A

      Greta Job!

  • Kobe's Daddy

    sorry guys but don't hold your breath on this gettin a whole lot better. How long have we been sayin this for now? I've givin up bein frustratin bout it. I was hopin maybe it would go down with Perkins out and the jury's still out on that, but I still see rondo throwin some of those ridiculous flashy bounce passes that have no chance of producing a good play, so sometimes it doesnt even matter that shaq's less TO prone. But dang i knew rondo was part of the problem, just didnt know he was THAT big a part of the problem. In a way, that's kind of a good thing cus it's easier for him to improve at such a young age, whereas pierce n allen arent gonna improve that much at this age. Hope he can get on that.

  • Jon Mullen

    Zach great work, forward it to doc!

  • Adrian

    I thought Rondo would've improved on his jumper maybe its too early to tell but the way Miami was playing him at times its like Rondo was afraid to shoot and the only time he feels comfortable is when there is little to no time on the shot clock. I rather have Pierce or Allen take the last shot of a quarter until Rondo is comfortable shooting. Also if/once Rondo learns how to shoot we will get easy baskets running the pick&roll with him and Kg or Shaq. Only then is when we will be a major threat because we will have 5 legitimate offensive players on the court.

  • Celtsfan

    The numbers don't give enough information to be useful. Rondo may account for a large amount of the turnovers, but there's no context. There were over 1400 transition opportunities for the Celts. How many of those transitions did Rondo run? Was it more than half? If so, then having less than half of the turnovers isn't the problem it appears. Also, how many assists did he get? How successful (points per possession) were the Celts with and without Rondo running the break? Also, how successful is the break with Rondo running it compared to players on other teams? A player that rarely passes the ball on fast breaks would have fewer turnovers and more baskets than Rondo (thus a higher points per possession) while running the transition less successfully than Rondo.

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