Turnovers have long been one of the most underrated aspects to team success. Shooting can come and go, but when you can get up more shots than your opponent, you tilt the odds significantly in your favor.
A prime example of this in play came on Sunday when the Pistons upset the Warriors in Golden State. They didn’t shoot the lights out, but they forced the Warriors into 25 turnovers. As a result, they attempted 16 more shots than Golden State did, which proved to be enough to get the win.
The Wizards didn’t have the same success when they faced Golden State — they only shot two more times than the Warriors — but on the whole they’ve been outstanding in winning the turnover battle this season. They have the fourth-best turnover percentage and they’ve forced the second-best turnover rate on the defensive end. As a result, they have the best turnover differential in the league so far this season, averaging five less turnovers per game than their opposition.
The big key to Washington’s success in the turnover battle is linked to the team’s most improved player so far: Otto Porter. He’s always been great at limiting his own turnovers (last season he was the only player to who played over 2000 minutes and commit less than 50 turnovers) but he’s taken it to another level this season. He’s averaging 56.3 touches per game, up from 42.4 last season, yet his turnover percentage is down from last season. He’s only committed three turnovers in 200 minutes of action this season. That’s one turnover every 66 minutes.
On the other end, Porter is making an even bigger difference. He’s using his length to be more disruptive on the perimeter:
As well as in the paint:
He’s averaging 2.7 steals per game so far, the best mark in the league, and nearly double his average from last season.
Porter’s numbers on both ends probably won’t be quite this eye-popping all season, but there’s no question he’s emerging as one league’s best at helping win the turnover battle on a night-to-night basis. While Porter has shown a lot of growth as a scorer, he hasn’t forgotten his roots as a player who makes an impact in the less glamorous parts of the game.