What is a Turnover in Basketball?

What is a Turnover in Basketball

A basketball turnover, in the simplest terms, means losing possession of the ball. When a turnover occurs, the team with the ball somehow loses it to the opposing team while playing on offense. Turnovers can happen in several ways, but the team has to lose possession before taking a shot at their basket for the loss to be considered a turnover.


But how exactly do turnovers happen in a basketball game? Are turnovers always a foul or a violation? What about an air ball? Also, what is usually considered a good turnover rate for a player? What NBA player has the most turnovers in a single game?


Let’s keep reading for a complete breakdown of everything you need to know about turnovers.


Is a Turnover a Violation or Foul in Basketball?

Is a Turnover a Violation or Foul in Basketball

Turnovers usually result from a violation or foul during a basketball game. There are two main types of turnovers: forced and unforced turnovers. A forced turnover occurs when the opposing team causes your team to lose the ball. Some common types of forced turnovers are steals, bad passes, and being forced out of bounds.


Unforced turnovers are those that occur against offensive players. Unforced turnovers can happen when players make a mistake, such as accidentally kicking the ball at the opposing team.


Though most turnovers are either forced or unforced, it is not always so clear-cut. Turnovers can also include double dribbles, offensive fouls, shot clock violations, goaltending, and shot clock violations.


How Do Turnovers Happen in Basketball?

How Do Turnovers Happen in Basketball

Basketball turnovers are sometimes the result of players making a simple mistake. Sometimes, turnovers can happen when a player becomes flustered and loses the ball to the opposing team. Most turnovers revolve around either dribbling rules (such as palming or double dribbling) or timing rules (such as shot clock violations or five-second violations). Timing violations can sometimes even happen when a player gets stuck with a held ball.


The most common turnovers during a game are bad passes, followed by offensive fouls, traveling, and shot clock violations. Some more common basketball turnovers can include three-second violations, technical fouls, and backcourt violations.


When a turnover occurs, the ball-handling player will have a violation against them, depending on which rule they broke. The referee then gives possession of the ball to the opposing team and is allowed to resume play. As a team, it is essential to figure out why turnovers are happening; reducing your team’s turnover rate can also help increase your chance of winning the game.


Is an Air ball a Turnover in Basketball?

Is an Air ball a Turnover in Basketball

The short answer is no if an air ball counts as a turnover in a basketball game, but there is an exception. The only time an air ball counts as a turnover is if the air ball sails out of bounds. If this is the case, the opposing team has new possession of the ball.


However, for the most part, an air ball is a missed shot by the player who shot the ball. Similarly, a caught air ball is considered a rebound by the player who catches the air ball. It is essential to remember that an air ball must look like a shot rather than a pass. Also, you may not rebound your own air ball, or you will have a traveling violation called on you.


What is a Good Turnover Ratio in Basketball?

What is a Good Turnover Ratio in Basketball

The turnover ratio is also called the turnover percentage. A turnover ratio is the percentage of a player or basketball team’s possessions that end in a turnover. The calculation for the stat takes the number of turnovers that occur against 100 possessions. This makes the turnover ratio a simple number to understand when you look at it on a stat sheet.


In the NBA, the player with the highest turnover rate is Rich Kelley, with a turnover rate of 26.6%. This 26.6% means that more than 1 out of four times that Rich Kelley had the ball, he lost it to the opposing team. In the 2021-22 season, Luka Doncic led the NBA in turnovers per game, also known as TOV, at an average of 4.5 turnovers per game.


On the opposite side of the coin, Louie Dampier is the NBA player with the least number of turnovers per game. Dampier played from 1967 until 1979 and finished his career with 0.9 turnovers per game.


Who Has the Most Turnovers in a Single Game?

In 2000, Jason Kid had 14 turnovers against the New York Knicks in a single game. Similarly, John Drew, a member of the Atlanta Hawks in 1978, had 14 turnovers against the New Jersey Nets. James Harden’s 13 turnovers in a playoff game are the most in NBA history.


The 1971 San Francisco Warriors hold the record with 45 turnovers in a single game. The 1974 Los Angeles Lakers are coming in second place, with a whopping 43 turnovers in a single game.


Conclusion: What Does a Turnover Mean in Basketball?

In closing, a basketball turnover occurs whenever the offensive team loses the ball to a defensive player. Turnovers can be either forced or unforced and cover a large variety of ways that they can occur. It is important to remember that air balls are usually not a turnover unless the air ball sails straight out of bounds.


Most turnovers occur through violations such as three-second violations or backcourt violations. Turnovers can also happen through ball handling violations such as double dribbling or palming the ball. Additionally, fouls, such as illegal screens or technical fouls, qualify as turnovers.


Finally, the highest turnover rate on record was Rich Kelley, with a turnover rate of 26.6%. Luka Doncic also has a high rate of turnovers, while players like Louis Dampier and Dennis Rodman are among the most reliable NBA players as far as turnovers go.


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