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Advanced Stats Class: The Hornets were sloppy in the turnover department

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The Hornets young players turned the ball over far too often in the 2020-21 season.

Sacramento Kings v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The 2020-21 Charlotte Hornets finished the regular season with a 33-39 record and the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference. Let’s take a look back on the Hornets team advanced stats and better understand why their season went the way it did. This week we’ll break down the Hornets turnover percentage.

Advanced stat: Turnover percentage

What it measures: Percentage of a team’s possessions that end in a turnover

Hornets result: 14.9%, 25th in the NBA

The one word to summarize the Hornets care of the ball is this: Sloppy. James Borrego’s squad was just flat out sloppy and turned the ball over at a rate that was far too high. Only five teams in the league had a worse turnover percentage than Charlotte.

Turnovers matter. The more turnovers a team has, the fewer opportunities they have to score. Among the 10 teams with the worst turnover percentages this season, only two made the playoffs - the Lakers and the Heat - and both teams were bounced in the first round.

From an individual player standpoint, the Hornets veteran guards were quite good. Devonte’ Graham had the team’s lowest turnover ratio at 7.5% followed next by Terry Rozier at 7.9%. The next lowest turnover rate among Charlotte’s main contributors was Gordon Hayward at 9.0%. Even though Devonte’ had the best result on the team, his turnover percentage still isn’t great. Among NBA players who appeared in at least 36 games and played at least 20 minutes per game, Graham ranked just 34th in the NBA.

On the flip side, the Hornets younger players are where the “sloppy” label comes in to play. Miles Bridges came in with a turnover ratio of 11.5% followed by LaMelo Ball at 12.1% and PJ Washington at 12.3%. While Charlotte’s veterans showed their savvy by taking care of the ball, the team’s youngsters learned some tough lessons about ball control. But with experience comes improvement (hopefully), and the Hornets young core will have more maturity next year.

PJ Washington, in particular, needs to improve in this area. There were 230 players who played at least 36 games and averaged at least 20 minutes per game. PJ’s 12.3% turnover ratio ranked 204th of these 230 players. Few players in the league squandered away more possessions than PJ did this year. Yes, LaMelo was close at 12.1%, but he’s expected to initiate the offense and create buckets for his teammates - and he’s a rookie - so he gets a bit of a pass. (Also, Bismack Biyombo’s 16.2% turnover ratio ranked 228th out of 230, so….yeesh!)

Many NBA games come down to just a couple of possessions. The difference between a few turnovers being converted into a couple of baskets can result in a win or a loss. The Hornets were too sloppy with the ball this year and it ultimately cost them. Let’s hope for better execution next year.