A brief observation on own vs. opponent turnovers

The Denver Nuggets rolled to a big win last night against the Los Angeles Clippers (see Charlie’s Rapid Reaction grades here). In that game, both teams did a great job of keeping control of the ball, each limiting their total turnovers to 11 apiece.

It’s well known among Nuggets fans that turning over the ball too much has been one of Denver’s primary weaknesses this season. In January, Matt provided some great in-depth analysis on the turnover problem, and if you haven’t read his breakdown, I’d highly recommend you check it out.

Regarding the Clippers game in particular, in looking over the box score afterwards I was struck by the even, equally low turnover numbers for both teams. What jumped out at first, given the pervasive and often discussed narrative that the Nuggets turn the ball over too much, was that Denver did a nice job of hanging onto the rock.

But the fact that the Nuggets were able to beat the Clippers so handily despite L.A. also having a low turnover count got me to wondering: Which is more harmful to the Nuggets, turning the ball over too often or failing to force opponent turnovers? Or conversely, which helps them more, keeping control of their own possessions or taking possessions away from the other team?

The answer turns out to be somewhat surprising. (more…)