One of the underrated stat races going on early this season isn’t one any player wants to win. Russell Westbrook, John Wall and James Harden are on pace to set a new turnover-per-season record, and it doesn’t seem like they’re slowing down.
Harden set a new NBA record for turnovers in a season just a few months ago with 4.6 per game and 374 total. That was the third time in his career he turned the ball over more than any other player, and the Mike D’Antoni system, which puts the ball in his hands even more than before, is aiding him to put up some impressive numbers (31.6 points, 12.7 assists) but it means a lot of mistakes too. Right now Harden has 37 turnovers, 5.3 per game.
Russell Westbrook is headed in the same direction. The all-everything for the Oklahoma City Thunder is averaging 33.1 points and 10.7 assists per game. He has the highest usage ratio in the NBA, 41.7%, helping him post these incredible numbers. MVP like numbers if the Thunder keep their current pace of winning (6-1, best start in franchise history). Westbrook is turning the ball over just like Harden: 37 times over 7 games, 5.3 per game. On pace for 433 turnovers this season, which would be a new NBA record.
John Wall isn’t playing on a team that’s going at 160 mph. They’re only 19th in pace. But it hasn’t stopped him from turning the ball over, per game, more than anyone else in the NBA. Through five games he has an impressive 21.8 points and 9.6 assists per game, but he’s also headed towards 437 turnovers next season, at 5.4 per game so far with 32. The Rockets, despite the perception, are only 16th in pace (4th in offensive rating). The Thunder are 6th in pace, but it’s been their defense (96.4 per 100 possessions) that’s been helping them win a lot of games early on, not their offense. The Wizards, unlike the 4-3 Rockets and the scorching Thunder, are having a horrible start to the season. They didn’t make the playoffs in 2016, and the negative momentum has stuck, starting the season with one win through the first six games.