Precious Possessions

Loyer’s structured offense resulting in steep drop in Pistons turnovers

Brandon Jennings
The Pistons have seen their turnovers decline recently.
Allen Einstein (NBAE/Getty)
The sample sizes on the stats the Pistons have generated in John Loyer’s tenure as Pistons coach are still too small to be conclusive, but seven games is almost 10 percent of the season. So, yeah, inconclusive but likely not insignificant.

And what the turnover numbers say is promising. The Pistons averaged 15.8 turnovers in 50 games before Loyer took over for Mo Cheeks. They’ve turned it over that many times only once since then – 16, in Loyer’s second game – and have cut their turnovers by nearly 50 percent, down to 11 a game.

The Pistons had three single-digit turnover games in their first 50 and have matched that in Loyer’s seven games, including nine in Monday’s narrow loss to Golden State.

“I think it always should be a point of emphasis the whole year,” Loyer said. “If you don’t get quality shots or if you turn it over, you can ignite (the opposition’s) break. Our guys have done a good job. We’ve tried to be solid in our half-court sets and we’ve done a better job of not turning it over when we do get out and run. But to have a good offense, you have to have low turnovers and we’ve done a good job.”

The NBA average is 14.8 turnovers a game. The Pistons have brought their average down to very nearly the norm, 15.0, a reduction of nearly a full turnover per game since Loyer’s elevation to head coach.

“I think it’s more the ball moving quickly,” said Greg Monroe, who has cut his turnovers from 2.2 per game pre-Loyer to 1.4 since the coaching switch. “It’s a little bit less of an isolation game with him and I think that’s helped us out a whole lot with the ball moving, continuous motion.”

Monroe said he’s getting the ball more in the high post under Loyer where there isn’t quite as much traffic and weak-side defensive help to poke the ball away from his blind side or intercept his dribble.

The difference has been dramatic so far for Brandon Jennings, who has committed just seven turnovers while averaging 34 minutes in the seven games under Loyer while averaging 7.3 assists. Jennings averaged 2.9 turnovers a game before Loyer.

“That’s the first thing you look at when you look at your point guard,” Loyer said. “Brandon had 10 assists and no turns (Monday night against Golden State). They’ve done a pretty good job. We’ve got to continue with it.”

Will Bynum has done nearly as well with his assists-to-turnover ratio under Loyer, at 39 to 10, while averaging 21 minutes a game.

“I think we kind of know what we’re trying to get accomplished out there,” Bynum said. “There’s not too many situations where we’re trying to force something or do something that’s not in the game plan. I think we’re doing exactly what he wants to do. We have situations in the fourth quarter where the ball is kind of stagnant and that’s hurting us, but overall we’re moving the basketball and doing the things he wants us to do.”

Among Loyer’s tweaks, as Monroe suggested, are running more set plays and fewer possessions designed to feature one-on-one matchups.

“We’re probably a little more structured in the half court,” Loyer said. “We’re trying to get a little more ball movement. We’re trying to get a little more people movement. We’re looking at different packages for certain guys and if guys know where they’re going to catch the ball, maybe you have less turnovers. It’s a credit to our guys for the concentration and the thought process of not turning it over.”