The Golden State Warriors, for all their greatness, are prone to turning over the ball. Steve Kerr’s team has committed 15.2 turnovers per game this season, ninth most of any NBA team.
Is this a problem? Not necessarily. The Warriors play a fast pace that often leads to miscues. Last year, when they won 73 games, they committed an identical 15.2 giveaways per game, seventh most in the league. That’s just the price of how they play.
But after Golden State turned the ball over 20 times Wednesday night in a 121-111 win over the Raptors, Kevin Durant expressed some alarm. Durant’s explanation for the giveaways?
“I think we’re just over-passing, to be honest,” Durant said. “I was the worst. I just threw the ball away when I had a wide-open three or just dropping the ball. It’s stuff that we can control.”
Kevin Durant on the Warriors turnover issues: "Just overpassing to be honest. I was the worst." pic.twitter.com/8ZLXvVaMOW
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 29, 2016
On one hand, this is a pretty innocent quote, a fair assessment of how a team might end up with so many giveaways in one specific game. On the other hand, it’s hard not to hear it and wonder a little about how Durant, who likes to have the ball in his hands, is adjusting to his role on the Warriors, who value fluidity in their offense.
This is probably an example of Durant seeking the equilibrium between the shoot-first mentality that comes with being the biggest star on the team and the enthusiastic passing that makes the Warriors so great. It’s easy to imagine someone who has just joined the Warriors feeling that he needs to over-do it with unselfishness.
Of course, Durant hasn’t had too much trouble finding that balance so far this season. He’s shooting a career-high .538 from the field, with a career-low 2.2 turnovers per game. The Warriors, meanwhile, are 28-5 and in first place in the West, so everything is fine and dandy.
But passing got the Warriors this far over the past two and a half seasons, and doing less of it seems unlikely to ever be the answer.