AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith

James Harden breaks single-season turnover record

13 Comments

James Harden pushed the ball upcourt, threw a pass behind a cutting Sam Dekker and made history.

The ball sailed out of bounds for Harden’s 375th turnover of the season. After the Rockets’ loss to the Jazz last night, Harden now has 376 turnovers and counting this season, breaking the previous record of 374 — set by Harden last season.

Russell Westbrook (348 turnovers) is also on pace to surpass Harden’s previous record.

The full leaderboard:

image

Turnovers are the worst offensive outcome. Free-throw attempts lead to efficient scoring for nearly all players. Made shots are points. Even missed shots offer the opportunity for offensive rebounds.

But turnovers end possessions and often lead to high-percentage fastbreaks for the opponent.

That said, individual turnovers can be misleading.

The Rockets put the ball in Harden’s hands a ton — especially in high-leverage situations against the most tenacious defenses. As a result, a disproportionate number of Houston’s turnovers are pinned on Harden. But Harden is the Rocket most capable of protecting the ball in those moments.

Imagine Houston distributed the offensive burden in a more proportional fashion. Players like Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela would have more turnovers — and so would the Rockets. Harden harms his individual turnover numbers by handling the ball so much, but Houston is better for it.

The Rockets, though above league average in turnover rate, aren’t among the NBA’s leaders in percentage of possessions ending in turnover.

Plus, Houston plays at a fairly fast tempo, which increases its number of possessions — and opportunities to rack up turnovers.

Harden has turned the ball over every minute and 33 seconds he has possessed it. Brandon Jennings (a turnover every 1:14 of possession), Deron Williams (1:20) and LeBron James (1:25) turn it over more frequently when they have the ball. They just don’t have the ball as often.

 

And not all turnovers are created equally. Harden often pushes the pace and sometimes makes risky passes. When that works, the Rockets get high-percentage shots and draw fouls. That’s preferable to a slower, more conservative offense — even if fewer turnovers would be a benefit of the scheme.

Would Houston be better if Harden turned the ball over less while playing the same style otherwise? Yes, but some turnovers are inevitable. I doubt Harden can turn the ball over much less while still providing all the other benefits he does. The Rockets appear reasonably close to the optimal balance.

By the way, all these same arguments apply to Westbrook and the Thunder.

Report: Raptors could get OG Anunoby back during Finals

AP
Leave a comment

The Toronto Raptors are headed to the 2019 NBA Finals, and they are going to need every player on their roster if they want a chance at dethroning the Golden State Warriors.

Forward OG Anunoby has been out since early April after needing an emergency appendectomy. He has not played in the playoffs yet this season, but a new report says the Raptors may be hopeful he could return before the end of this final series.

Via Twitter:

Anunoby Is a useful second-year forward who plays hard on both ends of the floor. Toronto is going to have a hard time matching up with the Warriors defensively, whether Kevin Durant plays or not. Having Anunoby available would help Toronto be more switchable and more adept at taking on some of Golden State’s smaller lineups.

We don’t have a timetable for Anunoby’s potential return yet, but the way the Finals are spaced out (Game 1 is on Thursday, Game 2 is next Sunday) it could help get players healthy and ready.

That could be good news for Kawhi Leonard, who sat out several games this year simply to rest. Leonard has looked a little banged up through these playoffs, as has just about everyone else. The bad news for Toronto is that this time between games could also help the Warriors get Durant ready to play.

Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals is on Thursday at 6 p.m. PST in Canada.

Drake gave Nick Nurse another shoulder rub (VIDEO)

Twitter
7 Comments

People are already getting tired of Drake being a prominent figure in the storyline of the Toronto Raptors. They will have to just deal with it for now as Toronto is headed to the 2019 NBA Finals after beating the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night.

That said, Drake is actually an ambassador for the Raptors. Some folks seem to forget that.

There was a dust-up during the Eastern Conference Finals about Drake having given Raptors coach Nick Nurse a shoulder rub during Game 4. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer thought that fans shouldn’t be interacting with members of the coaching staff or players, but the Raptors didn’t seem to think it was that big a deal.

After the Raptors won on Saturday, Drake embraced Nurse yet again, playing off of the initial kerfuffle.

Via Twitter:

Get ready to see more Drake than you’ve ever wanted.

Watch Raptors fans celebrate Finals berth in streets of Toronto (VIDEO)

AP
4 Comments

The Toronto Raptors are headed to their first NBA Finals in franchise history. Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry beat Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night in Game 6 to send them home and push Toronto into the final series of the year against the Golden State Warriors.

Raptors fans, who have been perennially disappointed by teams who were just good enough, naturally found themselves celebrating in the streets of Ontario. Videos of cars honking and people walking through the avenues surfaced on social media, with the whole thing looking like a big party.

Via Twitter:

The Raptors aren’t the most talented team in the Eastern Conference, but they did have the best player in the entire playoffs this season in Leonard. Coach Nick Nurse figured out a way to stop the Bucks by collapsing on Antetokounmpo, and Milwaukee’s shooters went cold at just the wrong time. The rest of the Raptors bench finally gave Leonard some support, and Toronto was able to mount a comeback in the series to push themselves into the NBA finals.

For that, both Toronto and the Raptors fans deserve to be overjoyed with what’s happening right now.

Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals will be on Thursday at 6 p.m. PST in Toronto.

Bucks fans greet team, Giannis Antetokounmpo at Milwaukee airport (VIDEO)

Getty
9 Comments

The Milwaukee Bucks season is over. Giannis Antetokounmpo and his supporting cast couldn’t get things done in Game 6 on Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors in Canada. Now it’s Kawhi Leonard who is heading to the 2019 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

This season was a magical one for Milwaukee, one in which they took the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference and likely have the league’s MVP in Antetokounmpo.

As you might expect, Bucks fans are happy about that fact, and showed up to the Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport to greet their returning team.

Via Twitter:

It has to be nice for athletes to get this kind of treatment. Although some may want to just go home and languish in their defeat, the unwavering support of fanatics has to take the bite out of the sting, even if just a little bit.