The beginning of this UK basketball year saw the Wildcats turning the ball over like Andrew DeClercq turns over burgers these days. For the first 5 games of the season UK was turning the ball over at an unbelievable rate. Then, things calmed down a bit, the competition got a little worse, and the team has been able to right the ship in the turnover category to some extent. What they haven’t done well all year is stop teams from piling up offensive rebounds.
That brings us to the point of today’s discussion class. Which is worse, a turnover or giving up an offensive rebound. We have our own theories on this, of course, but we’ll use the Kentucky 2008-2009 team’s current stats as a guideline for answering this question. After all, they’ve made their share of turnovers and allowed entirely too many offensive rebounds on the year. To continue following us down the rabbit hole that is UK basketball statistics and analysis make the jump.
So I’m sittin’ there with my boy Don when Knight comes up to me and says “Hey boy, you pull another stunt like that and I’ll knock your block off!” And I’m all like, “Listen up Coach, you saw what I did to your boy in practice the other day. I’ll smack you upside the…”
Oh hey there friends! Didn’t really expect you to make the jump, but we’re glad you did. Where were we? Oh yes, giving up needless points to the opponent. That’s right.
For the season Kentucky has committed 322 turnovers while forcing 282. They have also allowed 234 offensive rebounds while only securing 179 of their own missed shots. So we’ve established that UK has committed more turnovers and allowed more offensive rebounds than their opponents in games played this season, but what does that mean to the outcome of the game?
Kentucky’s 322 turnovers this year have led to 288 points for their opposing teams. That’s an average of only 0.89 points per turnover. Kentucky, on the other hand, averages 1.14 points per turnover forced so even though they’ve made 14% more turnovers than their opponents this year they have scored 11% more off turnovers than their foes.
The story is very much the same on the offensive boards as Kentucky is -31% on offensive rebounds on the season but they are actually +14% on second chance points. Those are certainly some astounding numbers. A UK fan also has to question “How are we behind 31% on the offensive boards for the year when we have better athletes almost every night?” The answer lies within the question here grasshoppers. The per rebound scoring is 1.17 points for UK and 0.75 for their opponents.
UK has only missed 488 field goals all year (yes, they’re still shooting over 50% from the field as a team this year…INSANE!). Thus their percentage of missed shots rebounded on the year is 38.7%. Their opponents on the other hand have missed 681 shots this year and are rebounding their own misses at a clip of 34.4%. Thus, UK is actually slightly outperforming their opponents on the offensive glass.
Again, the opponent’s skill level plays a very big role in all of this. UK has had better athletes, by far, in all but 3 games this year (UNC, UT, and UofL for sure, you can make a case for Miami and possibly 1-2 others). How can Kentucky be outrebounded by 31% (based upon occurrences) and still hold a 14% scoring advantage off those misses? Easy, they have been bigger, stronger, and more athletic than their opponents. Many of the opponents’ rebounds have been long kick out boards off missed threes and jumpers. This does not put them in a place to shoot a high percentage on their second chance. Additionally, any ball rebounded under the basket immediately meets opposition in the form of Perry, Patrick, and A.J.; the first two in that list are #2 and #3 in the conference in blocked shots. That means no easy second chances from anywhere for the usually smaller, less athletic opponents UK has seen this year.
In contrast, UK is stronger inside when they receive an offensive rebound. Players also tend to get fouled off of offensive rebounds and UK is shooting phenomenally from the stripe this year. All of this adds up to a net win on the offensive glass thus far for the Cats.
Nearly ever statement about offensive rebounds can be mirrored into the conversation of turnovers. UK’s opponents just haven’t had the athletes to turn a turnover into an easy basket or transition three at the other end. Kentucky, conversely, will generally get a breakaway layup or a trailing three pointer out of their transition offense after a steal. Wing men like Liggins, Harris, and Miller generally have their head up as soon as they get possession on a turnover and are looking for Meeks who can and will finish in transistion.
Man, that’s a lot of bullshitting and we still haven’t answered the question of which is worse, committing a turnover or allowing an offensive rebound. Well Kentucky this year appears to be doing both at very high levels but their opponents are averaging a slightly higher net gain off turnovers at 0.89 PPT versus 0.75 point per offensive board. That’s pretty close and judging as how UK’s stats for the two are nearly identical as well (1.14 versus 1.17) we’re calling it a wash from the statistics stand point. Both a turnover and an offensive rebound hurt your team, and on average, will net you a negative loss of approximately 1 point for the game.
So how do we personally feel about this question? Well let me get my Chris Cross rasp on here…Personally, I could never stand to give up an offensive rebound. It said somebody on the team wasn’t doing his job. Even a long rebound off a three pointer should be picked up by the defense. The guards should be checking off even if they’re 25 feet away. There’s little to no excuse for allowing an offensive rebound. But when it comes down to it I believe that turnovers will kill a team more than offensive boards. A turnover can turn into a kick out for a breakaway dunk that can take the momentum out of your team’s hands. Make two or three in a row and your team gets edgy, especially against the press. Nothing hurts more than turning it over and watching the other team go down an bury a trailing three. It happens three times in a row and a 2 point game is now 11. It’s demoralizing (or so I’ve been told). Yup, I’m gonna go with turnovers here, and don’t forget to check out the Rich Brooks Edition F-150 down at Paul Miller and tell ’em eDay said to get over here (and by here, I mean in this place, pronounced as the word hear is, and it rhymes with deer).