Inside the Problem: A Breakdown of the Nuggets Turnovers

As anyone who has followed the Nuggets this seasons knows, a couple things have plagued the team all season; inconsistency, a lack of perimeter shooting, and turnovers. I decided to look further into that turnover issue to see why the Nuggets continued to turn the ball over at such an alarming pace, 14.8 per game good for fifth worst in the league.

To figure out what Denver’s problem was I decided to take a look at each turnover the Nuggets have committed all year via synergy and keep track of three factors; who committed the turnover, what kind of turnover was it, and was it a live or dead ball turnover.

After tracking 667 turnovers (I must have missed a game somewhere but have no idea which) I did a bit of analysis of the numbers and found some interesting facts.

I have attached the document as a link to a public google doc at the end of the post so readers can download it and look for themselves. 

Before I break down the things I saw first I want to list the categories I put the turnovers in and explain a few of them:

Self Explanatory: 3 seconds, Bad Lobs, Bad Passes, Double Dribbles, Lane Violation, Fumbled Catches, Fumbled Shots, Offensive Interference, Inbound Violation, Missed Pass, Offensive Fouls (Both Charges and Illegal Screens went under this), Fall/Step Out of Bounds, Palming, Shot Clock Violations, Stepped Out of Bounds, Slipped Out of Hands, Stripped Shots, Travels.


Andre Got Confused: There was one play where Andre Miller got into the lane and had no idea what to do. It resulted in him throwing the ball straight up into the air. I wasn’t sure whether or not to categorize it as a pass or shot so it went under Andre got confused.

Bad Decision: Andre Iguodala got into the air and had no idea what to do leading to this turnover. Unlike most of the other ones that fit into a category simply this was another one that was up in the air so it went just as a bad decision.

Dribbling: Plays that Nuggets players were stripped of their dribble, had the ball poked away from behind, or dribbled the ball off themselves and to an opponent or out of bounds.

Stripped: Plays that the Nuggets were stripped off the ball after or before using their dribbles. Not on shots as that is its own category.

Now onto the data:

The Nuggets have committed almost every type of turnover imaginable. From 3 seconds, to bad passes, to lane violations and palming the ball. If you can name it the Nuggets have probably done it.

56 percent of the team’s turnovers are live ball turnovers. This number is part of why the turnovers have been such a problem for the Nuggets all year. A team can live with turnovers if the majority of them are dead ball turnovers. While no turnovers are good, dead ball turnovers eliminate run out opportunities and easy buckets for opponents. Unfortunately for the Nuggets that hasn’t been the case all season. Not only are the majority of turnovers live ball turnovers, but there have been plenty of live ball turnovers that have occurred on the opponent’s side of the floor. If this number doesn’t get below 50 percent the Nuggets are going to continue to lose games they shouldn’t, purely because they are giving up easy baskets.

73 of Andre Miller’s 96 documented turnovers have been live ball turnovers. Andre’s lack of athleticism really hurts him as he continues to get into the lane and be stuck without anything to do because of his lack of athleticism. This leads to him throwing the ball away and opponents getting out on the break. He also has a team leading 22 bad lobs, over half the teams totals, and most of those are live ball turnovers.

Kenneth Faried has almost a 50/50 dead ball live ball split, with many of his turnovers coming on illegal screens and charges.

40 of Danilo Gallinari’s 67 turnovers are live ball turnovers. Many of Gallo’s bad passes come as a result of him trying to be too flashy and throw no look passes, or behind his back or through his legs passes. The simpler the better when it comes to Gallo.

Andre Iguodala has just about every type of documented turnover. A lot of times Iggy’s turnovers come from trying to do too much, possibly a reaction to being new to Denver and learning the system. It should improve in the second half as he becomes more comfortable in a Nuggets uniform.

Ty Lawson has a 77 live ball/40 dead ball split. Lawson gets most of his turnovers by over-penetration and getting stuck with nothing to do because of his size. He then forces something as a result and turns the ball over. But 77 live ball turnovers is way to many for a starting point guard at this point in the season.

The final breakdowns of turnovers by type:

8 3 second calls.

1 Andre Got Confused.

1 Iggy Bad Decision.

40 Bad Lobs.

265 Bad Passes.

3 Double Dribbles.

86 Dribbling.

1 Everything.

1 Lane Violation.

19 Fumbled Catches.

1 Fumbled Shot.

5 Offensive Interference.

1 Inbound Violation.

1 Lost Jump Ball.

1 Missed Pass.

77 Offensive Fouls.

1 Fall Out of Bounds.

7 Palming Violations.

22 Shot Clock Violations.

5 Balls Slipped Out of Hands.

10 Stepped Out of Bounds.

25 Stripped Non-Shots.

28 Stripped On Shots.

70 Travels.


Obviously the number that stands out is the 265 bad passes. Many are just forced passes into the traffic of the paint because players are getting stuck in the air or without a dribble. On the bright side it should be easy to cut that number down in the second half of the season by simply not forcing things as much. If the Nuggets could do just that things would be a bit easier on them as opponents would not get as many easy run out opportunities and be forced to play in the halfcourt, where the Nuggets defenders can do their work.


Feel free to look at the data and leave a comment if you notice something new.

Also follow me on Twitter.


The following two tabs change content below.
  • Scott
    • Fraser

      Not enough to convince Orlando, especially with the amount of teams with ‘interest’ in Reddick. How’s this?

      • Ernie

        Look out Fraser. By making a Chandler trade you will get an incoherent rant from Z with no punctuation and an LOL that was clearly made after a bong hit.

  • Ernie

    Matt, thank you for the analysis. I would be interested in a followup that describes why so many bad passes are being made. Is it a result of pace and most are forced ahead when it isn’t available? Is it spacing since the team doesn’t have a reliable 3 point shooter? Are the players on the receiving end not cutting back as fast as they should or not selling their moves to get open enough?

    In other words, what should we look for to see if this can improve? If anything?

    • Matt

      Sure. I can throw a post together for this week. I just didn’t want to go to long with the post since it was already wordy. I will try to get something together and maybe try and put some videos in as well to show my points.

    • Nuggz9

      I agree with you…with that said, I think what Ty was talking about the other day about focusing on his jump-shot and making teams respect his shot will do wonders for that. A. Miller could do the same…nothing works better than respect.

  • Ryan

    If you consider pace of play that seem would make them about average when it comes to turnovers.

  • mike

    Gallinari, Mcgee, + 1 bench player who does not play much (not Miller, Chandler or Brewer) and 2 picks for Pierce, Garnett and either Bass or Terry. I think Garnett is a dick, but he is a great player and can make this team a top 5 defense with Igoudala. It gives them a 2 year run and the thing you need most with Old stars is depth and the Nugs could afford to play Garnett and Pierce only 30 minutes a game except in games 4-7 of a series and not have major issues.

    • Ban Johnson

      that’s an intriguing idea, and I think it would be very tempting for Boston, but I’d worry about the identity of the team. All these young guys have finally gotten in synch with the dribble-drive motion offense, and then you bring those 2 old dinosaurs in who aren’t used to running so much? What happens then? What’s the identity of the team: Boston west? I’d rather just get 1 or the other of KG and Pierce, preferably KG, since he makes sense as an uptempo center.

      Ty, Iguodala, Pierce, Faried, KG…with Koufos, Miller, Brewer, Chandler off the bench…would be wicked. A serious contender if they could figure out how they’re going to play.

      • Jacob

        I agree with a lot of what Ban said, it could be interesting and yea might tempt Boston, but I think they would try to hold out for more in the offer and I question if we could mix Pierce and KG with such an uptempo team. They can run in spurts, but I doubt the whole game. If they could figure it out though that team could be very dangerous.

        • Jacob

          Not to mention KG’s no trade clause. I have no clue if he would waive it to come here or not.

    • googergieger

      Gallo is better than what Pierce is right now and we’d need to give up a lot to get KG who we’d get to be a locker room presence and to teach our bigs some things. Be better off bringing in a retired big to do that, or trading for Reggie Evans.

  • dynamo.joe

    What stood out to me were the number of shot clock violations. Although I do recall several where they got the shot off, but failed to hit anything.

  • Ckwizard

    Early in the season I said it was turnovers not bad defense or poor free throw shooting that was keeping the nuggets at or below .500. The next game that was echoed by Hastings during the game….

    First third of this season this was the case but now two things have changed.

    1. Nuggets are playing at a faster pace then earlier in the season and this means that the Higher number of turnovers needs to take into account pace and when you do the turnovers are not as much of a problem.

    2. Igoudala and all players are not turning the ball over as much because they are getting better due to practice and familiarity with each other.

    While I like this analysis in my opinion it is about 3 weeks late because the Nuggets over the month of January have not been a bad turnover team unless you use outliers to say they have been.

  • heykyleinsf

    Man.. I hate the trade deadline.

    So many fantasy league owners rearing their ugly head.

    Every year, the same thing.

    I have my issues with certain players, but I don’t
    want anything but the players we have to play
    like they should.. and this article is awesome.


    Do me a favor and CC; a certain GK.

    These would seem extremely easy to correct problems,
    along with a little more practice time at the stripe.

    You deserve more appreciation than the most
    useless reference in sports as your first comment.

    • Daniel Y

      …..haha. I agree. Everyone should be the next GM. In their defense though, this is a great forum to put out ideas to our fellow Nuggets fans. You rarely get that on ESPN as it’s usually a bunch of trolls and/or 13 year old boys.

      Great analysis though. I am really enjoying all the extra stuff RMC has been putting out the last couple of weeks, besides the typical RR’s.

      • JoelK

        Even if the Nuggets included 3 1st round picks, Boston wouldn’t do that.

        • JoelK

          It doesn’t help them get much younger, doesn’t save them much money, and they get a lot worse.

  • Zorba

    It would be interesting to know if the number of turnovers is statistically decreasing through the season…

  • prospector

    Thanks Matt,

    This is the best and most informative analysis that I have ever received on the Nuggets!!

  • ParkPlace10
    • nugswin

      I’d take Gallo over Gay in a straight up evaluation so, ummm, no. Others may disagree but Gay doesn’t bring as much to the table as Gallo — Danillo has a chance to be a whole lot better than Gay who, despite being a great athlete, is kind of a one-dimensional player.


      i love you …

      with this trade GALLO NBA CHAMPION !!

  • Aaron

    No way. Rudy Gay Ain’t that good. Not to get all GIANLUCA on everyone. . but Gallo is being severely undervalued around here. He’s an impossible matchup. Garnett only has 1 or 2 years left. . so I’d only give draft picks Mosgov and the guys out of our rotation for him. That’s it. Nothing else is worth it.

    I am worried about LA doing a Gasol/Garnett deal which would be great for them, but suck for us. Let’s keep after Redick.

  • Z

    Ernie i would like chandler traded yes. happy Di$kwad

  • Z

    J.J. for Chandler to Orlando? cool with that. for the grammer police

  • Frontrange

    Ajusted for pace, the Nugs are precisely league average in turnovers, but I would be interested to know how the live / dead ball compares to other teams.

    I would guess a team that plays at high pace would generally have more live ball turnovers, but I don’t even know if that is true . . . is 56% close to average?

  • Frontrange

    BTW . . not sure how meaningful turnovers are as Charlotte, Cleveland, Phoenix, Dallas, Toronto, Philly are all top ten teams by turnover rate, while OKC is 29th.

    I know with my fourth graders, it is super important but in the NBA, it seems like the EFG on offense and EFG on defense are the dominant stats.


    Tonight NUGGETS 93 indiana 91

  • googergieger

    Chandler and McGee out. :/

  • Keith

    Why would Denver trade Chandler? If healthy he may be the best complete player on this team. He offensive game is better than everyone because he can shoot and get to the rim against anyone and his defense as a big is again the best on this team. Gallo is a good scorer but he’s limited defensively against other 3s in the league and his balance is poor and isn’t getting better. Now I would trade Mozgov and Hamilton for KG which is all it will take. Another person who’s stock is falling is Faried. He can’t guard the 4 spot and he has too many up and down games. Bring KG in and move Gallo to the 4 spot when he’s on the bench and play Chandler at the 3.