Myth Busters will take a look at a statement, then go deeper into the statistics to try to examine whether that statement is true or false. All statistics courtesy Statsheet.com unless otherwise noted.
Statement: Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor is having the worst turnover season of his career.
Let's start with the easiest numbers to go over: turnovers per game.
This is the statistic most used when fans and analysts look at turnovers, so this would also be the number that most folks would use to evaluate how well Taylor has been taking care of the basketball.
According to StatSheet, Taylor's 4.1 turnovers per game this year are the most in the Big 12 and ninth-most in the nation.
As you can see from the graph above, Taylor also is averaging 1.4 more turnovers per game this year than he did last year.
It seems pretty clear-cut from those numbers that this is, indeed, his worst turnover year.
Or is it that clear?
Sometimes, the problem with statistics is that we don't always pick the best ones for our evaluations — or the ones that give the best information.
For example, the numbers above don't take into account three factors that are important when evaluating Taylor:
• His playing time
• KU's pace
• How involved Taylor is in the offense
Let's take these one at a time.
It's true that Taylor's turnovers per game are up this season, but could that be a product of him playing more minutes?
Here are the percentage of minutes he's played for KU in each of his four seasons:
As we can see, Taylor has significantly increased his minutes from last year. Obviously, the more time he has on the floor, the more chance he has at having additional turnovers.
With this in mind, let's take a look at his turnovers per 40 minutes, which should allow us to take the playing time variable out of the equation.
Taylor's turnovers don't look as bad in this graph as they did in the turnovers per game graph, though it still appears this has been his most turnover-prone year.
Let's look at the other two factors we haven't considered yet: pace and Taylor's involvement in the offense.
Obviously, if KU is squeezing more possessions into Taylor's minutes, then that could affect his numbers this year.
According to KenPom.com, KU is playing at a faster adjusted tempo this year than in years past.
KU having an extra possession per game this year over Taylor's freshman year could have some effect on his turnovers.
The NCAA average for adjusted tempo is 67 possessions, meaning KU has about three more possessions than a typical team. This also will inflate Taylor's turnover numbers if we compare him to players on teams that play at a more standard pace.
We also need to look at how involved Taylor is in the offense if we want to take an accurate look at his turnover numbers.
To do this, we'll take a look at possession percentage, which is also known as usage percentage.
Basically, to see how involved Taylor is in the offense, we need to measure what percentage of KU's possessions he ends, whether it's by making a shot, missing a shot (without KU getting an offensive rebound), giving out an assist or committing a turnover.
The average possession percentage for a player is 20 percent. Here is a look at Taylor's possession percentage in his four years:
After three years of being about an NCAA average offensive contributor, Taylor's usage percentage has skyrocketed this year because of KU's reliance on him to be a playmaker.
This can't be ignored when discussing his turnovers.
All this brings us to a final stat: turnover percentage (also sometimes called turnover rate), which is figured by dividing a player's turnovers by the number of possessions he ends.
According to the Stat geek blog on Statsheet.com: "Turnover percentage ... attempts to equalize turnovers by taking pace and the number of possessions a team (or player) has into consideration."
So, with this stat, we will take into account the fact that Taylor has an extreme amount of involvement in KU's offense.
Here is Taylor's turnover percentage for his four years at KU:
When we take into account that Taylor is more involved in the offense — while taking out pace and playing time bias — we arrive at a conclusion that is much different than national (and local) perception.
Tyshawn Taylor's turnover percentage this year is actually improved from last year.
Just for fun, I wanted to go ahead and compare Taylor's turnover percentage this year to his career turnover percentage. Here it is:
Though Taylor has been repeatedly criticized this year for being more turnover-prone, we can see above that, in fact, the senior's giveaway numbers are exactly in line with his career numbers.
So, let's get back to our first statement.
Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor is having the worst turnover season of his career.
When you take into account all the factors — and not just the raw turnover numbers — Taylor actually is having his second-best season turnover-wise.
Can we all get off his back now?