One Team, One Stat: Nets look to limit turnovers

One Team, One Stat: Nets look to limit turnovers
Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin (7) passes the ball as Philadelphia 76ers guards Ben Simmons, right, and JJ Redick (17) defend during the third quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, in Uniondale, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com

NBA.com's John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2017-18 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Brooklyn Nets, who had turnover issues last season.

THE STAT

Last season, the Brooklyn Nets were outscored by 4.1 points per game off turnovers, the worst differential of the last five years.

THE CONTEXT

The points-off-turnovers stat isn't perfect, because it doesn't distinguish between live-ball turnovers and dead-ball turnovers, two very different things in regard to the ensuing possession on the other end of the floor.

Still, with Jeremy Lin missing 46 games, the Nets spent most of the season relying on inexperienced playmakers. In a season when league-wide turnover rate hit an all-time low, the Nets saw an increase from 15.1 per 100 possessions (the ninth highest rate in 2015-16) to 15.9 (the second highest rate in '16-17). Only the Lakers saw a bigger increase.

In addition to having the league's second highest turnover rate, the Nets had the fourth highest rate of live-ball turnovers vs. dead-ball turnovers, with 58 percent of their turnovers being live balls. Their 9.5 live-ball turnovers (recorded as steals for the opponent) per game were a league high.

Rookie Isaiah Whitehead committed turnovers on 15.9 percent of his possessions, by far the highest rate among 139 guards who averaged at least 15 minutes in 40 or more games. Veteran Randy Foye (14.1) had the fourth highest rate in that group.

Playing at the league's fastest pace didn't help. Nets opponents took 55 percent of their shots, the highest rate in the league, in the first 12 seconds of the shot clock.

Rebounding was also an issue. The 14.3 second chance points per game the Nets allowed were the the second highest mark in the league.

When they weren't allowing their opponents transition opportunities off turnovers or second chances off rebounds, the Nets did the some good things defensively in Kenny Atkinson's first season on the bench. Their opponents took just 61 percent of their shots from the restricted area or 3-point range, the eighth lowest opponent rate in the league.

With the league attempting 7,000 more threes than it ever had, the Nets were the only team that reduced the percentage of opponent shots that came from 3-point range from the season before (just a tick, from 30.1 percent in '15-16 to 30.0 percent last season). They also had the second biggest reduction in the percentage of opponent shots coming from restricted area, dropping that number from 35.5 percent (third highest mark) in '15-16 to 31.3 percent (11th lowest mark) in '16-17.

If the Nets were just league average in regard to the points they allowed off turnovers and off offensive rebounds, they would have been 4.4 points per 100 possessions better defensively and ranked fifth on that end of the floor (instead of 23rd).

With Lin returning to health (and playing 24 of their 26 post-break games), the Nets did cut down their turnover rate to 15.1 per 100 possessions after the All-Star break, down from 16.3 before the break. But new addition D'Angelo Russell had the lowest assist/turnover ratio (1.72) among the league's 30 starting point guards last season. And the Nets will still play at a fast pace and give everybody (including the young guys and the bigs) the freedom to dribble ... multiple times.

"We have a lot of guys touching [the ball]," Atkinson said before training camp this year. "That's the style we like to play. We think it helps with development. But there is a lot of situations where we can make better decisions. So we're going to have to coach that better."

As the Nets try to take a step forward this season, turnovers will be the biggest key, because cleaning up their mistakes would help them on both ends of the floor.

"It's going to be," Atkinson said, "a big emphasis for us this year."

NETS NOTES - GENERAL

1. Only team that has seen a decrease in wins in each of the last four seasons.

2. Have been worse than average on both ends of the floor in eight of the last 10 seasons.

3. Their pace of 103.6 possessions per 48 minutes was the fastest for any team in the last 25 years (since the 1991-92 season).

4. Played only seven games against an opponent that was playing the second game of a back-to-back. Every other team played at least 11 and there were seven teams that played three times as many (21). The Nets were also the only winless team (they were 0-12) with a rest disadvantage, where they were playing the second game of a back-to-back against an opponent that didn't play the day before.

5. Were outscored by 11.8 points per 100 possessions in the third quarter. That was the worst NetRtg for any team in any quarter last season.

NETS NOTES - OFFENSE

1. Were a bottom-five shooting team in the restricted area (26th), from mid-range (27th), and from 3-point range (26th).

2. 72 percent of their shots came from the restricted area or 3-point range. That was the second highest rate in the league (behind only Houston's 82 percent) and up from 53 percent (27th) the season before. That increase from 53 percent to 72 percent was more than double the increase of any other team from 2015-16 to '16-17. As noted above, they also saw the league's biggest decrease in opponent shots that came from those areas.

3. According to SportVU, 79.0 percent of their jump shots and 88.3 percent of their 3-point attempts were uncontested. Both were the highest rates in the league.

4. The much bigger increase was in the percentage of their shots that came from 3-point range (from 22 percent to 37 percent). Even though they ranked 26th in 3-point percentage, they made 4.2 more threes per game (10.7) than they did the season before (6.5). That too was the league's biggest increase. All 21 players who played for the Nets last season made at least on 3-pointer.

5. Attempted 28.9 free throws for every 100 shots from the field (the league's seventh highest rate), up from 24.6 (27th) the season before. Only Atlanta had a bigger increase in FTA/FGA.

6. One of two teams (Memphis was the other) that was better offensively on the road (where they scored 103.1 points per 100 possessions) than they were at home (100.7).

NETS NOTES - DEFENSE

1. Have been a worse-than-average defensive team in each of the last 10 seasons, ranking no higher than 18th. The only other team that hasn't had a better-than-average defense in any of the last six seasons is the Sacramento Kings, who have been worse than average for 11 straight years.

2. Were the most improved defensive team after the All-Star break, allowing 105.1 points per 100 possessions (ranking eighth in the league), 4.2 fewer than they allowed before the break (when they ranked 28th defensively).

3. For the season overall, they were one of just four teams that allowed fewer points per 100 possessions than they did in 2015-16, though they're still the only Eastern Conference team that has ranked in the bottom 10 on that end of the floor in each of the last three seasons.

4. Had the league's second best defense in the second quarter, allowing only 99.7 points per 100 possessions, and the league's worst defense in the fourth quarter, allowing 114.1.

5. According to SportVU, opponent ball screens resulted in a shot, turnover or drawn foul by the ball-handler or screener 51 percent of the time. That was the league's highest opponent usage rate on ball screens.

NETS NOTES - LINEUPS

1. Their nine most-used lineups were a plus-37 in 829 minutes. All other lineups were a minus-589 in 3,119 minutes.

2. Their most-used lineup - Lin, Foye, Caris LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Brook Lopez (their post-break starters) - was a plus-7 in 244 minutes and played at a pace of 107.7 possessions per 48 minutes, the fastest pace among lineups that played at least 200 minutes together.

3. Outscored their opponents by 6.2 points per 100 possessions in 412 total minutes with three guys returning from that lineup - Lin, LeVert and Hollis-Jefferson - on the floor together.

4. Their only player with a positive plus-minus last season was Chris McCullough (plus-52), who was traded to Washington at the deadline.

NETS NOTES - INDIVIDUAL

1. Trevor Booker grabbed 17.2 percent of available rebounds while he was on the floor. That was the fifth highest rebounding percentage among 220 players shorter than 6-10 who averaged at least 15 minutes in 40 or more games.

2. Allen Crabbe ranked second in the league in 3-point percentage among qualified players. His 46.4 percent on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers was the third best mark among players who attempted at least 200. He shot 47.1 percent from 3-point range after the All-Star break, the best mark among players with at least 100 post-break 3-point attempts.

3. Crabbe averaged just 0.59 dribbles per touch. Among guards who played at least 20 minutes per game in 40 or more games, only Kyle Korver averaged fewer.

4. DeMarre Carroll took 26.4 percent of his shots in the first six seconds of the shot clock last season. That was the third highest rate among players with at least 300 total field goal attempts.

5. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson attempted 46.7 free throws per 100 shots from the field, the fifth highest free throw rate among non-centers with at least 500 field goal attempts.

6. Hollis-Jefferson (44.7 percent) and Isaiah Whitehead (44.5 percent) were two of nine players with an effective field goal percentage of less than 45 percent on at least 500 shots.

7. According to SportVU, the Nets scored 1.13 points per possession when Caris LeVert used a ball screen. That was a top-20 mark among the 144 players who used at least 250 ball screens.

8. Jeremy Lin's turnover rate (11.7 per 100 possessions used) was a career low. He recorded assists on 25.1 percent of his possessions, up from 18.9 percent in 2015-16. That was the third biggest increase among guards who played at least 750 minutes both seasons, behind only those of James Harden and Jeff Teague.

9. D’Angelo Russell scored just 0.76 points per possession on pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions, the third worst mark among 47 players who had at least 300. According to SportVU, he drove just 10.8 percent of the time after using a ball screen, the 11th lowest rate among 92 players who used at least 500. Lin had the 11th highest rate 22.6 percent).

10. Whitehead had an effective field goal percentage of just 31.6 on 171 shots after using a ball screen. That was the second worst mark (higher than only that of Brandon Ingram) among 115 players who took at least 100 shots after a ball screen last season.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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