Winning the turnover battle
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Turnovers are a default fantasy basketball category, but not a very good one.

Fantasy teams that tend to win the category are run by owners who don't check their roster on a daily or weekly basis. Playing fewer players equals accumulating fewer stats, and the one category in which that works out is turnovers.

Some of the best players in the NBA turn the ball over at a high rate because they control the ball more than anyone else. The bottom 10 in turnover average includes the first (Kevin Durant), fourth (James Harden), fifth (Kobe Bryant), 11th (Russell Westbrook) and 13th (Kyrie Irving) overall fantasy players (Yahoo! leagues).

Philadelphia 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday turns the ball over 3.9 times per game - last in the NBA - and yet he is still ranked in the top 50 by both the average and total stats filters.

For those interested in not punting the turnover category, however, there is a way to compete and still put up top-notch numbers in other categories.

Here is a roster that could do that:

Point Guard

Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers - Paul's scoring may be down three points per game from last season's 19.8, but he is still a top-three fantasy talent due to his high totals in assists (9.7 per game) and steals (2.6), elite shooting percentages (.481/.901), decent rebounding numbers (3.5) and lack of turnovers. Paul is only turning the ball over 2.1 times per game this season and is the only player averaging more steals than turnovers among players with at least two steals per game.

George Hill, Indiana Pacers - Indiana traded Darren Collison this offseason and gave the point guard job solely to Hill. The fifth-year guard has responded with averages of 14.6 points, 4.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 1.6 3-pointers, and has an 86.4 free-throw percentage. He's doing all that with a turnover average of just 1.7 per game.

Shooting Guard

J.R. Smith, New York Knicks - It seems surprising to see Smith on this list because he is often reckless when it comes to shooting, but he actually takes good care of the ball (probably because he shoots it right after he gets it most of the time). Smith is only turning the ball over 1.5 times per game to go along with 16.8 points, 3.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.5 3- pointers per game.

Wesley Matthews, Portland Trail Blazers - Matthews provides strong numbers in steals (1.4) and 3-pointers (2.3) per game while putting up 15.2 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and just 1.6 turnovers per game.

Small Forward

Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia 76ers - A move to the starting lineup has suited Young well. The forward's numbers are up in points (14.7), rebounds (7.2), assists (1.7), steals (1.6), blocks (0.9) and shooting percentage (.521). He also is averaging more turnovers than last season but not by much (1.1 to 0.9). Just don't expect Young to make (or attempt) any 3-pointers.

Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers - You could almost hear Lakers fans collectively groan whenever Metta World Peace has attempted a 3-pointer over the last few seasons. He still isn't shooting a good percentage this season, but that doesn't matter for fantasy purposes because he is making 2.1 per game and averaging 13.6 points. He's also averaging his most rebounds (5.7) and steals (1.8) since 2007-08. World Peace is basically a spot-up shooter who doesn't pass the ball much anymore (1.6 assists per game), so he keeps his turnovers to 1.6 per game.

Power Forward

Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz - Jefferson does a ton for fantasy owners. He shoots a high percentage from the field (.483) and the foul line (.852), contributes rebounds (9.8), steals (0.9) and blocks (1.1) at a high rate and averages better than 17 points and two assists per game. Best of all, his turnover average of 1.3 ranks second among the top-25 players in Yahoo! leagues.

Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Hornets - Jefferson would rank first if it wasn't for Anderson, who only gives the ball up 0.9 times per game. The Hornets gunner also averages 16.6 points with 6.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.6 steals and 3.0 3-pointers while shooting 90.2 percent from the free-throw line.


LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers - Aldridge's two turnovers per game aren't the best at the center position, but they are tops among the NBA players averaging at least 20 ppg by a margin of 0.5. This roster needed more scoring, and Aldridge does that well while protecting the ball better than some of the other prolific scorers in the league. His 8.6 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 1.3 blocks and .465/.814 shooting percentages don't hurt, either.

Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks - Chandler gets most of his points right at the rim coming off pick-and-rolls -- 155 of his 170 baskets have come at the rim, and 72.9 percent of those 155 were assisted -- so there isn't much of an opportunity to turn the ball over. Chandler averages as double-double (12.4 ppg, 10.9 rpg) and 1.0 block per game to go with an incredible .672 shooting percentage with just 1.3 giveaway per game.


Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors - Calderon is one of the most underrated players in the NBA and he has been on an absolute tear since early December. In his last 18 games, Calderon is averaging 12.1 points, 8.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 0.7 steals, 1.6 threes and just 1.2 turnovers per game. The Raptors point guard has turned the ball over just six times in his past 10 games. He had a streak of four straight games without a turnover end Wednesday night.

Matt Barnes, Los Angeles Clippers - Barnes is putting together the best season of his career despite coming off the bench for most of the season. He's averaging a career-high 11.3 points on 49.1 percent shooting with 5.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.5 3-pointers while coughing the ball up 1.3 times per game.

Robin Lopez, New Orleans Hornets - Those Hornets big men really know how to protect the basketball. Lopez is the third New Orleans player on our roster due to his averages of 11.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 1.8 blocks and 1.3 turnovers and shooting percentages of .553/.791.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at

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