Reducing turnovers would improve Pistons’ defense

The Pistons rank 27th in defensive rating (all data for this post was updated Sunday). Obviously, the Pistons require work on the defensive side of the court to fix that dreadful number.

But improving their offense would help a lot, too.

The Pistons turn the ball over on 18.3 percent of their possessions, worst in the league. More specifically, they have the ball stolen on 9.9 percent of their possessions (third-most in the league).

This makes a difference because offensive possessions that end in steals lead to easier opportunities for opponents.* Ideally, we could find the Pistons’ defensive rating after allowing a steal, but there’s no reasonable avenue to do that. But we can come close enough that we can estimate how big a problem Detroit’s turnovers are for its defense.

*I have no data to support this, but logically, I’m totally convinced. Steals often lead to fastbreaks and layup, more so than any other start to a possession does.

Using points-off-turnover data graciously supplied to me by Michael Wilczynski of Weak Side Awareness – a very underrated blog that you should check out – here’s how Detroit’s defense compares:

  • Pistons’ defensive rating after turnovers: 119.0 (25th)
  • Pistons’ defensive rating on other possessions: 103.8 (27th)

The Pistons have the eighth-largest drop in defensive rating after turnovers compared to other possessions. They’re not good on either type of possession, but they markedly better when they don’t throw the ball to the opponent first.

Lawrence Frank has said he spent more time in training camp working on defense than offense. I think it’s time to give the offense a little more attentions – for the defense’s sake.

Tags: Lawrence Frank

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