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Jrue Holiday Struggles, but the Pellies Have His Back

On the meaning of J-Ho's early battles with turnovers

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

I've been meaning to write about Jrue Holiday's turnover problems for a little bit. Outside of an anomalous 2011-12 campaign, Holiday's never been spectacular at taking care of the ball, and this year has been no exception.

Sequentially since 2010, his turnover percentage/turnovers-per-36 have gone 21.9/3.2, 16.7/2.7, 13.2/2.2, 17.3/3.6. Ten games into the year, he's at 21.3/4.2. Digging into what went right in 2012 would probably be instructive, and Holiday's turnover rates can only be expected to drop from this point forward with Ryan Anderson returning to the lineup (and reducing Holiday's still very high 24.5% usage rate) and as the system starts to settle down.

But there's actually a more interesting way of looking at this.

Holiday's turnover percentage ranks third worst in the league right now among all regular starting point guards. Depending on your stat of choice, you could make a case that he's actually the worst in the league. And yet, New Orleans is the second-least turnover prone team in the Western Conference, the fourth best in the NBA. This level of point guard turnover-team turnover disconnect would be striking anywhere and, it's especially so in the former land of Chris Paul, New Orleans once so desperately reliant on him for ball control and so hopelessly adrift without him.

The reasons for this are three-fold -- Jason Smith, Anthony Davis, and Ryan Anderson, who've posted 4.9%, 6.5%, and 5.9% turnover rates respectively. Sure Anderson's only played a game, and those rates won't stay this obscenely low. But all three guys stay away from turnovers just due to the way they play.

Smith puts the ball on the floor once a Jovian year. I envision him as a three-foot tall 4 year old playing against two-foot tall 4 years olds and his coach "forgetting" to tell his mom about the one practice where everyone learned how to dribble to even things out a little. Anderson's a very decent driver, especially against opposing bigs, but more importantly, the fact that he takes, oh I don't know, FIVE HUNDRED THREES A YEAR sort of washes his turnover rates into nothingness. And Anthony Davis would be the most likely culprit for turnovers, except for the part where he handles like an All-Star NBA guard.

Basically, unlike the recent past, New Orleans can get tons of shots now that aren't fueled by one guy dribbling around for 20 seconds, looking to break defenses singlehandedly. That worked when the guy dribbling was the greatest point guard in the history of professional basketball. (What? I will fight you). It didn't work quite as well when the guy dribbling was Greivis Vasquez. (I'm sorry, loyal The Birds Writes reader Greivis Vasquez).

This also has implications on pace of course, because guess what fundamental aspect of universal space-time is preserved when one doesn't dribble around aimlessly for 20 seconds.

It'd be really cool if Jrue Holiday could cut down the turnovers and/or stop having his worst offensive season of his career. And odds, of course, are that he will! He will regress to the mean! But until he does, New Orleans' offense is varied enough to survive without him, as their 8th-highest-in-the-league efficiency attests to.

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