Perley Press Pass: Ball Security is Important, But So is Ball Movement

by Sam Perley

The Charlotte Hornets have been the best team in the NBA over the last six seasons when it comes to not turning the ball over. So, why exactly are the numbers so good in this area and with plans to play faster this season, will the low-giveaway rates continue?

For context, Charlotte has surrendered the fewest turnovers in the NBA in five of the last six seasons, the only exception coming in 2017-18 when it finished third. Coach Borrego wants a quicker offense, which could initially present some challenges before things balance out.

“A lot of it is excellent point guard play. More guys are touching the ball this year. Terry’s going to be making more decisions than he ever has in his career,” Borrego said on Tuesday. “We had too many in Boston. It’s an area we have to clean up, but I don’t want to lose the spirit of ball movement. That trumps turnovers right now. Over time, we’ll get better at not turning it over.”

Charlotte finished with the 10th-fewest passes in the NBA last season (290.1 per game), a slight increase from the previous year when they accounted for the sixth-lowest average (281.5). Although the Hornets had 26 turnovers in Boston on Sunday, newcomer Terry Rozier accounted for none of them (and nine assists in 22 minutes), which is definitely an encouraging sign.

“I’m still learning everybody’s game,” he said. “It’s preseason, so guys are going to play a little faster. Sometimes, we get caught up in each other’s way and stuff like that. I’m just trying to settle everything down and be a leader for this team.”

He added, “It’s just being protective of the rock. I’m always going to have the ball in my hands and understand when you turn the ball over, that can lead to fast-break points or the opponent getting in a groove on offense. I just take care of the ball as much as I can. I don’t know how you teach not turning the ball over.”

Malik Monk, who was back at practice after missing a majority of training camp with a toe injury, believes the team’s successful low-turnover clip boils down to one simple factor.

“We value every possession,” he said. “Coach values and stresses that. How long is each game? It’s a long game. It’s hard to do that, but if you want to win and be a top team in the turnovers and limit them, you have to do it. We’re a young team with a lot of rookies, so we definitely have to take care of the ball.”

By no means is the 26-turnover performance in Boston a tell-tale sign of things to come, especially with so many players taking on more advanced roles for the first time. Ball security might be an occasional issue now and then with the team’s pace slowly picking up, although per usual, it will still be heavily-addressed even as things start to get rolling.

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