Most Turnovers in NBA History

By Andrew D

May 29, 2022

Ah, the dreaded turnover.

The one thing that ruins a sweet-looking set of stats.

The fly in the ointment. The thunder just as you put steaks on the barbecue.

As revealing as turnovers per game can be, they are like the spoilsports of the statistical world. They lurk with player fouls in the mire.

Turnovers are actually crucial and are widely considered to be a very revealing part of the game. They are pored over by sports bettors and stat nerds and analysts like some (all) of the team here at The Jump Hub.

So, for anyone new to basketball –


A turnover is simply the act of losing the ball to one’s opponents without taking a shot. This is most likely to be due to the shot clock expiring and forcing a mandatory handover but can also be the result of a steal by the defending team or any other situation where the ball changes hands.

Turnovers represent a completely wasted period of possession and drive fans to distraction. Most agree that the very least a team can do is to take a shot at the target within the allotted time but it is not always possible.

The modern NBA is a game with plenty of possessions. Where there are possessions, there will always be a relative number of turnovers to match. The two go hand-in-hand and nothing can change that. It stands to reason then, that players who handle the ball the most are the ones most likely to turn it over.

This begs another interesting question.

Well, we think it’s interesting, you may judge for yourselves.

How does one weigh the value of higher amounts of possession against more turnovers per game?

Yes, turnovers are bad. They are frustrating and wasteful. But if they are an unavoidable by-product of excellent levels of possession then shouldn’t that lessen their impact? How do we gauge the importance and strength of one versus the damage of the other?

There are, undoubtedly, boffins and mad algorithmic geniuses who can (and have) created a program that tells us the answer to this.

If the possessions that a given player has tend to lead to a certain number of points, assists, or other positive stats then surely we have to balance that against the damage done when that player inevitably turns the ball over?

How far back do we go to lay the blame at their feet? How about if a player turns the ball over to the oppostion and they miss their first shot but take the rebound and are fouled in the process? Are we laying the free throw points that they accumulate at the feet of the guy who gave them the possession, or the guy who fouled? Or both?

Putting the intricacies and wider implications aside for now –

Here is top ten a list of the biggest offenders of all-time when it comes to turnovers.



  • Born – September 6th, 1990 (age 31) – Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Measurements – 6’3″ (1.9m) / 210lb (95kg)

  • Teams – Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets

  • NBA debut – October 28th, 2010

  • Position – Point guard

  • Games played – 613

  • Career points – 11,702 (19.1 per game)

  • Assists – 5,557 (9.1 per game)

Total turnovers – 2,332 (3.8 per game)

John Wall comes in 10th in the league for all-time highest number of turnovers. Injuries have hampered his career and kept him from true greatness but he still remains a former NBA All-Star point guard. He was, at one time, regarded as the fastest player in the league when moving with the ball.

  • 5× NBA All-Star (2014-18)

  • All-NBA Tird Team (2017)

  • NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2015)

  • NBA All-Rookie First Team (2011)

  • NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion (2014)

His career average of a fantastic 9.1 assists show that he is a tremendous playmaker who gets frequent possessions and contributes significantly to the team effort. He did that in a team lacking elite talent and that makes it all the more impressive.

But those 3.8 turnovers per game are pretty high by anyone’s standards.


  • Born – February 22nd, 1986 (age 36) – Louisville, Kentucky

  • Measurements – 6’1″ (1.85m) / 180lb (81kg)

  • Teams – Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers, Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers

  • NBA debut – November 1st, 2006 (15 years ongoing)

  • Position – Point guard

  • Games played – 957

  • Career points – 9,337 (9.8 per game)

  • Assists – 7,584 (7.9 per game)

Total turnovers – 2,586 (2.7 per game)

Rondo has been a rock-solid performer for several NBA teams during his career. There is a case for him to be a Hall of Famer eventually. His scoring is a little pedestrian at times and his 3-point shot lets him down hugely (career 32.2%) but he has been a high quality playmaker and provider for more than 15 years.

  • 2× NBA champion (2008, 20)

  • 4× NBA All-Star (2010-13)

  • All-NBA Third Team (2012)

  • 2× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2010,11)

  • 2× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2009,12)

  • 3× NBA assists leader (2012,13,16)

  • NBA steals leader (2010)

Rondo deals with a lot of possessions and, therefore also has a high number of turnovers. Averaging 2.7 per game, he is far from being the worst offender here but a medium-long career has pushed him into 8th place through sheer volume.


  • Born – March 14th, 1988 (age 34) – Akron, Ohio

  • Measurements – 6’2″ (1.88m) / 185lb (83kg)

  • Teams – Golden State Warriors

  • NBA debut – October 28th, 2009 (12 years ongoing)

  • Position – Point guard

  • Games played – 826

  • Career points – 20,064 (24.3 per game)

  • Assists – 5,388 (6.5 per game)

Total turnovers – 2,598 (3.1 per game)

Stephen Curry made history by passing Ray Allen for most threes in the NBA. He has the most unstoppable three-point game that the National Basketball Association has ever seen. Stephen Curry is not just a one-trick-pony, however.

  • 3× NBA Champion (2015,17,18)

  • 2× NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) (2015,16)

  • 8× NBA All-Star (2014-19, 21, 22)

  • NBA All-Star Game MVP (2022)

  • 4× All-NBA First Team (2015,16,19,21)

  • 2× All-NBA Second Team (2014,17)

  • All-NBA Third Team (2018)

  • 2× NBA scoring champion (2016,21)

  • NBA steals leader (2016)

Impressive stuff. Curry is a great passer and his average assists are excellent. (career 6.5 APG). He frequently makes plays for others and contributes constantly when on the court.

The downside of all this possession and involvement in the game is, of course, a high number of turnovers. With 2,598 turnovers across his career so far Curry is 8th on our list here.

Would you prefer not to have him on your team?


Born – MAY 6TH, 1985 (age 37) – Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Measurements – 6’0″ (1.83m) / 175lb (79kg)

Teams – New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns

NBA debut – November 1st, 2005 (16 years ongoing)

Position – Point guard

Games played – 1,155

Career points – 20,936 (18.1 per game)

Assists – 10,977 (9.5 per game)

Total turnovers – 2,774 (2.4 per game)

Although his scoring is first-rate, Chris Paul has always been more of a passer and chance-maker. He has averaged 10.0 assists (APG) for 7 of his 16 season so far in the NBA and at least 8+ for 14 of them. His statistics and achievements speak for themselves.

  • 12× NBA All-Star (2008-16, 20-22)

  • NBA All-Star Game MVP (2013)

  • 4× All-NBA First Team (2008,12-14)

  • 5× All-NBA Second Team (2009,15,16,20,21)

  • All-NBA Third Team (2011)

  • 7× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2009,12-17)

  • 2× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2008,11)

  • NBA Rookie of the Year (2006)

  • NBA All-Rookie First Team (2006)

  • 5× NBA assists leader (2008,09,14,15,22)

  • 6× NBA steals leader (2008,9,11-14)

  • NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Now that’s an impressive set of accolades. Christopher Emmanuel Paul must be one of the most decorated, talented floor general ever to set foot on a professional basketball court but never to win an NBA Championship.

With so many seasons and so much possessoin under his belt, it stand to reason that Chris Paul would appear on this list. He is 7th of all-time for number of turnovers conceded.


  • Born – September 29th, 1988 (age 33) – Washington, D.C.

  • Measurements – 6’10” (2.08m) / 240lb (108kg)

  • Teams – Seattle SuperSonics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets

  • NBA debut – (13 years ongoing)

  • Position – Small forward, power forward, shooting guard

  • Games played – 939

  • Career points – 25,526 (27.2 per game)

  • Assists – 4,032 (4.3 per game)

Total turnovers – 2,964 (3.2 per game)

Kevin Durant is one of those players who makes the game look so easy. He effortlessly controls the court and is unselfish and team-oriented at all times.

He is considered by basketball minds greater than ours to be one of the 15 greatest players in league history. You will hear no argument from us. Just look at this list of his achievements…

  • 2× NBA Champion (2017,18)

  • 2× NBA Finals MVP (2017,18)

  • NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) (2014)

  • 12× NBA All-Star (2010-19, 21-22)

  • 2× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2012,19)

  • 6× All-NBA First Team (2010-14,18)

  • 3× All-NBA Second Team (2016,17,19)

  • NBA Rookie of the Year (2008)

  • NBA All-Rookie First Team (2008)

  • 4× NBA scoring leader (2010-12, 14)

  • 50–40–90 club (2013)

  • NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Durant is also a solid and dependable passer of the ball but does rank 6th of all-time for ball turnovers. 13 full seasons in the mix will do that if you are a player who sees so much action with the ball in hand.


  • Born – May 29th, 1984 (age 38) – Brooklyn, New York

  • Measurements – 6’7″ (2.01m) / 238lb (107kg)

  • Teams – Denver Nuggets, New York Knickerbockers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers

  • NBA debut – October 29th, 2003 (18 years ongoing)

  • Position – Small forward, power forward

  • Games played – 1,260

  • Career points – 28,289 (22.5 per game)

  • Assists – 3,422 (2.7 per game)

Total turnovers – 3,052 (2.4 per game)

Carmelo Anthony is known as one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. He averaged over 25 points per game (PPG) for 7 seasons…

He is also known as one of the most prolific offenders when it comes to turning the ball over.

That is, perhaps, a little unfair. 18 top-flight seasons as an attacking player are almost guaranteed to bring high numbers. Yet he remains joint-best so far on this list if we look at actual per-game averages (2.4 per game) Carmelo Anthony was such a threat going forwards that he was often double, or even triple marked by defenders. This generated an awful lot of pressure on his possessions and no doubt forced quite a few of those turnovers.

  • 10× NBA All-Star (2007, 08, 10-17)

  • 2× All-NBA Second Team (2010,13)

  • 4× All-NBA Third Team (2006,07,09,12)

  • NBA Social Justice Champion Award (2021)

  • NBA scoring leader (2013)

  • NBA All-Rookie First Team (2004)

  • NBA 75th Anniversary Team


Born – 8th December, 1985 (age 36) – Atlanta, Georgia

Measurements – 6’10” (2.08m) / 265lb (120kg)

Teams – Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers

NBA debut – November 3rd, 2004 (17 years ongoing)

Position – Center, power forward

Games played – 1,242

Career points – 19,485 (15.7 per game)

Assists – 1,676 (1.3 per game)

Total turnovers – 3,302 (2.7 per game)

Dwight Howard has never been known as an elite ball-handler. He was the driving force of the Oklahoma Thunder and his turnovers rocketed as a result of so much responsibility and attention. Offensively, Howard was criticized for sluggish improvement and poor assist averages.

  • NBA Champion (2020)

  • 8× NBA All-Star (2007-14)

  • 5× All-NBA First Team (2008-12)

  • All-NBA Second Team (2014)

  • 2× All-NBA Third Team (2007,13)

  • 3× NBA Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) (2009-11)

  • 4× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2009-12)

  • NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2008)

  • NBA All-Rookie First Team (2005)

  • 5× NBA rebounding leader (2008-10, 12, 13)

  • 2× NBA blocks leader (2009-10)

  • NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion (2008)

Nevertheless, those are some rather impressive achievements and accolades. Dwight Howard may still end up with an NBA Hall of Fame career and answer his critics once and for all.


Born – August 26th, 1989 (age 32) – Los Angeles, California

Measurements – 6’5″ (1.96m) / 220lb (99kg)

Teams – Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers

NBA debut – October 28th, 2009

Position – Shooting guard, point guard

Games played – 942

Career points – 23,477 (24.9 per game)

Assists – 6,397 (6.8 per game)

Total turnovers – 3,539 (3.8 per game)

It should not be overly surprising to anyone familiar with James Harden to find him 3rd on this list. He is, without doubt, one of the most dominant ball-playing superstars in all of NBA history. That does not come without a proclivity towards excessive turnovers. James Harden is an elite-level scorer and passer but also flies high in terms of his number of turnovers with a high of 5.7 TOV across the 2017 season.

  • NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) (2018)

  • 10× NBA All-Star (2013-22)

  • 6× All-NBA First Team (2014,15,17-20)

  • All-NBA Third Team (2013)

  • NBA Sixth Man of the Year (2012)

  • 3× NBA scoring leader (2018-20)

  • NBA assists leader (2017)

  • NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2010)

  • NBA 75th Anniversary Team

While James Harden continues to control games and the flow of play as effectively as he does, he will always be a little loose with the ball. Here is the perfect example of the concept we mentioned in the introduction. At what point does that become a liability? As far as we’re concerned, James Harden walks into almost any team we can think of and we’d happily have him at our respective franchises here in The Jump Hub office…


  • Born – November 12th, 1988 (age 33) – Long Beach, California

  • Measurements – 6’3″ (1.9m) / 200lb (90kg)

  • Teams – Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Lakers

  • NBA debut – October 29th, 2008 (13 years ongoing)

  • Position – Point guard

  • Games played – 1,021

  • Career points – 23,298 (22.8 per game)

  • Assists – 8,611 (8.4 per game)

Total turnovers – 4,188 (4.1 per game)

Russell Westbrook has the worst per-game average of any player on this list when it comes to turning the ball over. A dismal 4.1 times per game to be exact. That has been as high as 5.4 in certain seasons. As always, there are caveats and reasons why that might still be ok but the numbers do not lie. Westbrook is perhaps even more notorious as a turnover machine than James Harden.

  • NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) (2017)

  • 9× NBA All-Star (2011-13, 15-20)

  • 2× NBA All-Star Gasme MVP (2015,16)

  • 2× All-NBA First Team (2016,17)

  • 5× All-NBA Second Team (2011-13, 15,18)

  • 2× All-NBA Third Team (2019,20)

  • 2× NBA scoring leader (2015,17)

  • 3× NBA assists leader (2018,19,21)

  • NBA All-Rookie First Team (2009)

  • NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Russell Westbrook is a phenomenon. Incredible athleticism and fitness. Shooting skills. Rebound-taker extraordinaire. He creates chances and assists his teammates with skill and consistency.

Yes, his turnovers are high. But look at what he brings to the court as compensation.


Born – (age 37) – Akron, Ohio

Measurements – 6’9″ (2.06m) / 250lb (113kg)

Teams – Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers

NBA debut – October 29th, 2003 (18 years ongoing)

Position – Small forward, power forward, point guard, shooting guard

Games played – 1,366

Career points – 37,062 (27.1 per game)

Assists – 10,045 (7.4 per game)

Total turnovers – 4,788 (3.5 per game)

So, we come to the number one worst offender in terms of all-time turnovers in the NBA. LeBron James has 600 more than Russell Westbrook and that number is not getting smaller.

Again, we have to weigh these numbers against the extraordinary influence that LeBron James exerts over his team (and the opposition). He is always bound to turn the ball over a decent amount just by the nature of the fact that he is involved and handling the ball so often. Even so, James only averages 3.5 TOV per game across his 18 years in the NBA and that is not the worst average here.

  • 4× NBA Champion (2012,13,16,20)

  • 4× NBA Finals MVP (2012,13,16,20)

  • 4× NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) (2009,10,12,13)

  • 18× NBA All-Star (2005-22)

  • 3× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2006, 08, 18)

  • 13× All-NBA First Team (2006,08-18,20)

  • 3× All-NBA Second Team (2005,07,21)

  • All-NBA Third Team (2019)

  • 5× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2009-13)

  • NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2014)

  • NBA Rookie of the Year (2004)

  • NBA All-Rookie First Team (2004)

  • NBA scoring leader (2008)

  • NBA assists leader (2020)

  • J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (2017)

  • NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Take that.

James takes the concept of elite sports to a whole new level and shows no real signs of slowing down or stopping any time soon. If he loses the ball more than most in the course of creating some of the most incredible basketball moments anybody has ever seen? Oh well.


So, there you have it. The list of the worst players in NBA history when it comes to turning the ball over. Clearly, there is a huge correlation between time spent on the ball, controlling any given game and the number of turnovers conceded. None of the players here are simply inept and unable to keep hold of the ball. Far from it. They are mostly playmakers and game-changers.

Sure, they give the ball away more than most. But think of what they offer in return…

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