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Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Should UK Fans Worry About Marquis Teague?

Marquis Teague's inconsistent games have been the subject of much commentary recently, and today, John Calipari tried to dispel concerns about Teague's play with this comment:

Before we go onto examine this tweet in detail, Calipari is pointing out the major problem with what Teague has done so far this season -- turn the ball over.  Point guards are often measured in terms of assists and turnovers, but assists can be deceiving -- John Wall averaged 34% assists, 10.5% more than Brandon Knight.  But as we all know, they were two completely different players -- Knight more of a scorer and Wall more of a passer.  Because Knight took almost 100 more shots than Wall, and played more of a pick and roll game, he wasn't passing it as much.

So Coach Cal says that Rose, Evans, Wall and Knight all turned the ball over a lot in their first four games, but is he minimizing the impact of Teague's largess?  Let's look at the numbers:

Calipari PG's First Four Games
Player Turnovers TO% % Team TO
Rose 12 18.99% 18.18%
Evans 16 26.58% 28.57%
Wall 18 30.46% 23.38%
Knight 18 27.65% 38.30%
Teague 18 39.13% 30.50%


Okay, so this tells a different story than Calipari, although it may not look like it at first.  Cal is mostly right when he said all his guards turned the ball over a lot, except in the case of Derrick Rose, who notably did not.  But his last three point guards all have identical turnover numbers at this point in their careers.  So is that the end of the story?

Well, not quite.  Take a look at the TO% for Teague versus the other players.  What this shows is that almost 40% of Teague's personal possessions end in a turnover.  Teagues numbers are so high because all the other point guards shot the ball more, ending their possessions with either a field goal attempt or a free throw attempt.  Teague shoots far less than any of the others, so as a result, registers fewer possessions, making a similar number of turnovers a much higher TO%.

But that's not quite the end of it.  Another useful measure is the number of turnovers by a given player as a percentage of the team's total.  I look at this stat because very often, a point guard will be attributed one or more turnovers that really aren't his fault.  That can't really be measured directly, but you can get an idea indirectly by looking at the point guard's turnovers as a percentage of the team total.  A high figure indicates that the point guard is more likely the problem, and a lower number suggests that his teammates might be part of the problem.

This measure suggests that Teague is maybe not the only problem on this team, and that perhaps he's taking the blame for some of his teammate's faux pas.  This number tends to compensate for the comparatively low number of shots that Teague takes, and you can see that although it is high, it is not out of the realm of reality.  I probably should have adjusted this final stat for pace, but I think that it is okay as it is in relative terms.

The bottom line -- Most of Calipari's point guards have tended to have a lot of turnovers at this point (with the notable exception of Rose, who's numbers are actually quite good for a point guard at any time).  Teagues are maybe a little more problematic because of the way he plays, but it seems likely some of that is on his teammates, too.

So I'm inclined to think that things will be fine as soon as Teague learns to make the easy pass.  All Cal's prior point guards did, and there is no reason to believe that Teague can't make that adjustment as well.