Through 36 games, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are two games below .500 and are tied for the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, a fate that would put them in the Play-In Tournament for the second straight year. While health has obviously been a huge factor, L.A. has also struggled in a number of ways on the court.
One of their biggest flaws this season has been turning the ball over. They give up the ball 15.9 times per game, ranking 28th in the NBA. Only the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets turn it over more. For a team that already has difficulties defensively, giving up possessions is only exacerbating the issue.
James broke it down even further, saying that there are specific types of turnovers that bother him more than anything else. “Obviously there’s a difference between careless turnovers and attack turnovers,” James said. “We got to cut down on our careless turnovers, the ones that are just unforced.”
“We all have attack turnovers, which is OK, we have a lot of attackers and we understand that. But the careless turnovers where literally you just turn the ball and there’s no pressure or there’s no reason for it, those are the ones that get us in trouble.”
Careless turnovers, as James describes them, are not only upsetting due to the unforced nature of them, but they also completely take the wind out of a team’s sails. They can single-handedly flip momentum in the opposite direction and remove any potential for runs in the course of a game.
A player like Russell Westbrook is often criticized for his turnovers, but it’s rarely differentiated when he has an “attack turnover” versus a careless one. He often loses the ball while in attack mode, with the ball being poked out by a defender.
But he — as well as James — has a tendency to make careless passes while driving to the rim, or lose his handle unprompted. Westbrook is absolutely not the only issue with regard to turnovers, but he and James do lead the way for L.A. in that category.
If the Lakers want to turn their season around quickly, it starts with taking better care of the ball and being more efficient with their possessions.
David Fizdale criticizes turnover issue as well
James is not the only Laker to take issue with the team’s turnovers. Temporary head coach David Fizdale also made note of it after their most recent loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
“But one thing I think that just probably hurt us the most down the stretch was the turnovers and the ‘one more play’ where the easy play to make one more pass to an open man. But I got to go back and watch the film.”
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