• Charles Allen

NBA Fantasy: Predicting the Top 3 in Turnovers for the 2019-20 Season


Houston Chronicle

Most categories in fantasy sports are ones where the more a player gets, the better it is for your fantasy team. Not so much in the category we are looking at today, turnovers. Some folks do not even like playing with this category, Yahoo includes it, while ESPN does not.

I get it. It’s not fun to look at areas where a player may be weak. Recently many of the fantasy football gurus have been making suggestions to do away with kickers in fantasy football leagues. Kickers are hard to gauge and hard to predict the outcome. And is there any worse way to lose than by missing a field goal at the end of the game?

However, I think it’s important to take a look at turnovers. Much like NFL kickers, they still play a vital role in the flow of the NBA game. They can become the great equalizer in limiting a player’s ability to dominate a head-to-head match up. Turnovers can also serve as a much needed tie-breaker in the event you win four categories in a head-to-head matchup and your opponent wins four categories. So let’s examine last year’s turnover champions.

James Harden. Harden turned the ball over a league best, 387 times. Harden also came in first place in usage percentage, as the usage rises, so is the likelihood of turning the ball over.

Russell Westbrook. Westbrook, who now teams up with Harden for the Houston Rockets turned the ball over 325 times. Can you imagine how many turnovers this duo is going to average next season? Kidding aside, with these two now on the same team, both will project to turn the ball over less, as both will handle sharing the ball a bit more than they did in previous seasons.

Trae Young. Young finished third in 308 total turnovers. He dazzled crowds late in the season with his ability to pass and get to the basket, but it does come at a price with the amount of times he lost the ball. Many young point guards are going to struggle in this area a bit, so it’s not too much of a surprise here.

Turnovers are a hard metric to gauge. It’s completely understandable why ESPN would rather not worry about them in standard leagues. Players that handle the ball more are naturally going to turn the ball over more. Are you going to skip out on drafting someone like Harden for your fantasy team because he’s going to turn the ball over a bunch? Probably not.

Here is a list of guys who have been in the top-10 for the past few seasons that weren’t mentioned above:

Lebron James

Stephen Curry

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Devin Booker

Paul George

Nikola Jokic

Luka Doncic

Blake Griffin

Are you going to avoid any of those guys? Absolutely not! Those are all guys you need to target early and often. The more of those guys you have on your fantasy squad the better your season is going to be.

So instead of trying to project who the top-3 will finish in this category, I leave you with this: You can’t avoid turnovers. Chances are, guys who turn the ball over at a high rate will also be strong in multiple other categories. Don’t lose sleep over your top guys turning the ball over, everyone’s top guys most likely will too. The top-20 turnover “leaders” each season are all guys that need to be rostered and started on any given night. So just shrug your shoulders and try to win every other category.

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