San Antonio Spurs on pace for historic stat this season
By Andrew Ites
After the first nine games of the season, the San Antonio Spurs are on pace for the lowest turnover rate in the history of the NBA.
The San Antonio Spurs are off to a 6-3 start this year, and they are having success in different ways than years past.
While the defense has improved over the last few games, the Spurs still rank 20th in defensive efficiency after finishing in the top three in that statistic each of the past six seasons.
San Antonio hasn’t been the pace-and-space team that won the title against the Heat in 2014 as they’ve transitioned to an offense that ranks 25th in pace and is built around isolation and the midrange game of LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan.
That change in offensive philosophy and the addition of an All-NBA scorer like DeRozan has vaulted the Spurs to seventh in offensive efficiency this season after finishing 17th in that stat last year.
That slower, more methodical style of offense has helped them avoid turnovers at a historic rate.
Here's a thing: By @bball_ref database, Spurs are on pace for the lowest turnover rate in recorded NBA history: https://t.co/jj29cev3pj
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) November 4, 2018
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According to that observation by Zach Lowe from information courtesy of Basketball Reference, the Spurs’ turnover rate of 10.2% would be the lowest number in NBA history.
That stat doesn’t always translate to wins as evidenced by the two teams who are just below the Spurs on that list: the 2018-19 Minnesota Timberwolves, who are just 4-7, and the ’18-’19 Hornets who are 5-5. But it has prevented San Antonio’s opponents from getting out in transition and it’s given the Spurs’ more opportunities on the offensive end.
DeMar DeRozan is a key to San Antonio’s success in this aspect of the game as he has a turnover rate of just 9.1% while he’s distributing the ball well with 6.7 assists per game.
LaMarcus Aldridge has also done a good job of taking care of the ball with his 8.7% turnover rate on a high usage rate of 26.5%.
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The Spurs’ slower pace does help their turnover numbers stay low as they avoid giving the ball away on fast breaks. However, rate statistics always adjust for pace and the Spurs are actually playing at a significantly faster pace than the 2013-14 team that won the title.
This stat is a credit to San Antonio’s two All-Stars and their coaching staff doing a great job of preaching and teaching the fundamentals.
Hopefully the Spurs can keep up this historic pace for a full season.