Wizards struggling to force turnovers originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
No singular stat correlates perfectly to wins and losses or even offense and defense in the bigger picture. There are usually anomalies.
That applies to turnovers, as while most of the NBA’s best teams at forcing them are also elite defensively, you have a team like the Bucks that is last in opponent turnovers, yet also second in defensive efficiency.
Still, as a general practice, generating turnovers is a good thing. They represent mistakes by the opposing team and they often lead to easier scoring opportunities on the other end. Open shots are usually there for the taking before a team can set their defense.
With that being the case, it would be ideal if the Wizards were better at forcing turnovers. They are 29th in the NBA this season in both opponent turnovers (12.1/g) and opponent turnover percentage (10.9). Believe it or not, that’s a slight improvement from last season when they were 30th in both categories.
Because the Wizards don’t force many turnovers, they also don’t score many points off of them. This season they are 28th in points off turnovers (14.6) and 27th in fastbreak points (11.7/g). For comparison, the Raptors, who beat the Wizards on Sunday night, generate 20.9 points per game off turnovers.
Now, here’s where things get a little strange. The Wizards are this bad at turning teams over despite having Delon Wright, who ranks third in the NBA in steals per game (1.8/g), plus two big men who rank in the top-15 of the league in blocked shots per game; Kristaps Porzingis (1.6) and Daniel Gafford (1.3).
That’s a lot of stocks (steals and blocks) for a team that is near the bottom of the league in forcing turnovers. So, what’s missing?
For one, they definitely lack a quantity of steals. They are 23rd in the NBA this season at 6.8 steals per game as a team. Wright may be high in steals on average, but he’s 20th in total steals because he missed almost two months due to injury. The Wizards do not have another player in the top-75 among total steals this year.
Washington also remains one of the lowest-ranking teams in deflections. After being 30th last season at 11.6 per game, they are only slightly better at 27th, averaging 12.4 per game.
Deflections aren’t a perfect indicator of defensive success, either. Both the Bucks and the Celtics are bottom-five teams in deflections, but boast top-five defensive ratings.
Even so, deflections and turnovers are the types of things that make teams uncomfortable, that throw off the timing of their offensive plays. They represent disruption and often physical play. That’s not to mention how they can translate to the offensive end.
The Wizards do not need to become elite at forcing turnovers, as there are some excellent defenses that do just fine without many of them. But given that they have struggled so much in that area the past two years, all while carrying below-average defenses overall, it seems like it would help.
Maybe that’s something to keep in mind this summer, as the offseason draws near.