The Los Angeles Lakers have had a hard time winning multiple games in a row, most recently dropping one against the Memphis Grizzlies, 104-99. It was another wasted gem of a performance from LeBron James who had 37 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and two blocks as he continues to string together dominant games despite his team failing to string together wins. The loss against the Grizzlies came after a satisfying win against the Rockets just the day before.
Other than another late game botched lay-up from Russell Westbrook, one of the main reasons for the Lakers failing to win in the end were their turnovers. The team turned the ball over 18 times to the Grizzlies’ 12, as they continue to stake their claim as one of the worst teams in the NBA when it comes to taking care of the rock (3rd most turnovers per game).
LeBron isn’t dumb and knows the Lakers need to take care of the ball better. However, he had an interesting distinction made in his post-game comments following Wednesday’s loss against the Grizzlies. He seems to believe there are two types of turnovers, one being “careless” turnovers with the other being “attack” turnovers (h/t Jacob Rude of Silver Screen & Roll).
LeBron said there's a difference between carless turnovers and attack turnovers and the team needs to cut down on the former.
— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) December 30, 2021
Although everyone’s minds go straight to Westbrook when it comes to the team’s turnover problems, LeBron also has his share of turnovers night-to-night. Now, if your mind first thought of Westbrook when hearing the term “careless turnovers”, that’s fair. He has the second-most turnovers per game this season with only his former teammate James Harden leading him by a hair. However, LeBron isn’t too far down the list as he has the 10th most turnovers per game at this point.
The difference between Westbrook and LeBron’s turnovers is, as LeBron stated, one player mostly has careless turnovers while the other has the lionshare of his “attack turnovers”. The latter of those are from a ball getting deflected off of you while you’re driving. Or it comes off a deflection when doing a drive-and-kick. It’s not a turnover that the defense barely has to work for. If you’re going hard, being precise, and the defense has to give maximum effort to cause a turnover against you, that’s still at least somewhat of a win as that wears them down.
Westbrook has somewhat lessened these turnovers from the beginning portion of the season where he just could not stop coughing it up, however, he will most likely have to continue to reduce them. At the minimum he can eliminate those careless turnovers to maximize the impact he has on this team that’s trying to claw its way back up the standings.