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Forced Turnovers a Sore Spot for the Blazers

The Blazers’ defense improved in the 2017-18 season, but did it inhibit other areas? Adam Fromal of Bleacher Report examines turnovers and fast breaks generated by Portland.

New Orleans Pelicans v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Two Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

For the Portland Trail Blazers, a weakness that stands out is fast break offense. Every team has an area in need of improvement. Some need more help than others, but the consistent fact is that no team is perfect. Adam Fromal of Bleacher Report gave a list of every team’s most depressing numbers, with the Trail Blazers’ being “11.7”.

The Portland Trail Blazers had the league’s second-worst opposing turnover percentage, only forcing cough-ups on 11.7 percent of their foes’ possessions.

Fromal’s rationale is that NBA teams generate more efficient offense on fast breaks than on any other type of offensive possession. Portland was dead last in the NBA in fast break points.

But the Blazers struggled immensely when trying to force turnovers, electing to gamble minimally and instead remain disciplined so they could contest shots at all times. That worked, but only so far as promoting defensive improvement. Their ultra-safe approach led to precious few run-outs and forced the offense to grind out points in the half court on a nightly basis.

Last season, the Blazers jumped from the 25th-ranked defense in points allowed at 108.5 allowed per contest in 2016-17 to the 5th at 103 points. However, they dropped in points scored from 8th to 16th.

Turnovers forced is not necessarily indicative of a strong offense. The Cleveland Cavaliers had the fifth-ranked offense while ranking 27th in turnovers forced, while the Atlanta Hawks were fourth in turnovers forced and 23rd in offense.