Are the Houston Rockets fated for an increase in turnovers this season?
Supporting cast: protect the ball at all costs
The good news for the Houston Rockets when it comes to turnovers is that the rest of the team tends to make up for Harden’s high giveaway rate. Last season, while James averaged five turnovers per game on his own, the rest of the starters combined only tallied 6.1. The bench was solid in that aspect as well, which helped Houston finish sixth-best in the NBA in turnovers per game at 13.3. The previous season, the four surrounding James averaged just five turnovers per game to his 4.4, as they finished tied for 11th-best.
The Rockets’ supporting cast will need to continue taking extra care of the ball, now more than ever before, if Westbrook and Harden end up reverting to their giving ways. When P.J. Tucker was inserted into the starting lineup last season, the pace of the team dropped considerably, but so did their turnovers.
Seeing that Tucker has played shooting guard and small forward for most of his career, his 1.0 career turnovers per game is superb. P.J. hasn’t finished with one or more turnovers per game since 2015-16, so the pressure will mostly be on other projected starters Clint Capela and Eric Gordon to limit their turnovers, as Tucker should be fine.
At times where the ball appears to be flying all over the place with Harden and Westbrook out on the court, Mike D’Antoni could even consider staggering out his two superstars in an effort to remedy the issue. This strategy could not only help with taking care of the ball but would keep an elite offensive threat on the floor for longer stretches of a given game.
Next: Remedy No. 2