Turnovers Over Time

The last three MVPs (league’s most valuable player of the year) happen to greatly vary in experience. Last year Derek Rose became history’s youngest MVP, with only three seasons under his belt. Before him, LeBron James won the award twice; currently, he has played in the NBA for eight years. And before James, Kobe Bryant, who has played in the NBA for 15 years, won the MVP award.

Here are the past three MVPs…

Derek Rose = has played in the NBA for 3 years

LeBron James = has played in the NBA for 8 years

Kobe Bryant = has played in the NBA for 15 years

I want to take a look at the consistency of turnovers caused by these three MVPs throughout their careers. By examining a short career (Derek Rose), a medium-lengthed career (LeBron James), and a long career (Kobe Bryant), I will be able to tell if there is a correlation between the standard deviation of turnovers committed each year and the length of that respective career. Lets start with the data collection: turnovers every year for each MVP…

Now I need to take the standard deviation for each player’s turnover history:

  • Derek Rose’s career turnover standard deviation = 40.25336425
  • LeBron James’s career turnover standard deviation = 13.26380682
  • Kobe Bryant’s career turnover standard deviation = 49.97666099

These are interesting statistics when we consider the mean total turnovers in a season for the players:

  • Derek Rose = 232.333
  • LeBron James = 260.75
  • Kobe Bryant = 215.2
When I arrange my data in order of smallest to greatest standard deviation, my results are mixed…
There is no correlation between standard deviation of turnovers each season and years pro. So the length of a career really appears to have no effect on the consistency of turnovers committed throughout that career, at least for these all stars. What is apparent is the trend showing that an all star who commits more turnovers per season throughout his career is more likely to have less variation in the numbers he puts up every year. LeBron James has a mean of 260.75 turnovers per season1 , a number well above Derek Rose and Kobe Bryant. At the same time, his standard deviation of turnovers is decidedly lower than that of the other players, at just 13.264. An MVP who commits more turnovers throughout his career is likely to be more consistent with his turnover rate.
If you’re losing the ball more often than your teammates, take comfort in the knowledge that at least you’re consistent…
1 To ensure that means were a good indicator of player turnover rate, I compared them with the medians and found no discrepancies…
Derek Rose, median turnovers per season = 217
Lebron James, median turnovers per season = 260.5
Kobe Bryant, median turnovers per season = 223
All the information gathered for this post was found at the NBA Team Index site.

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