It’s difficult to draw sweeping conclusions through three games. Trend lines are beginning to form, but until the Denver Nuggets and other NBA teams play a significant chunk of their schedule, forming major takeaways will be unwise.

Still, it’s hard to ignore Denver’s biggest issue on the offensive end so far: turnovers.

The Nuggets are averaging 19.7 turnovers per game to begin the 2022-23 season, the most in the entire NBA. The Washington Wizards are averaging the second most turnovers at 18 per game. Last season, the league leading team in the turnover department was the Houston Rockets, who averaged just 16.5 a game by comparison.

The leading offenders for the Nuggets shouldn’t come as a surprise, either. Jamal Murray has eight total turnovers in his first two games back in over 550 days. Nikola Jokić is averaging 3.7 giveaways per game, right in line with where he was last year. Michael Porter Jr. is averaging 2.3 a game, again, in his first games back in a long time. In all, 10 Nuggets are averaging at least one turnover per game in this early stage.

History says that won’t continue. Every season for the last decade, the league leading turnover team has averaged roughly 16 to 17 turnovers per game. This emphasizes that regression to the mean is certainly incoming for Denver. They won’t average nearly 20 turnovers a night for much longer. The Nuggets as a team have averaged 14.5, 13.5, 13.8, and 13.4 turnovers per game in each of their last four playoff years. It’s fare to assume they’ll wind up in that general range by the end of the season.

But how soon the Nuggets reduce their overall number of turnovers will directly impact both their offense and defense. Offensively, it’s always better to get up a shot than not get one up. Whether the shot goes in or it has a chance at an offensive rebound, the offense will be better. The Nuggets are still trying to work out the kinks of a new starting lineup while working back in two players that have had prolonged absences. It’s not a surprise that there have been some miscommunications, passes that weren’t executed properly, or not being precise with the handle at this stage. It’s so early.

The secondary impact is on Denver’s defense. It’s only three games, but the Nuggets are allowing 139.5 points per 100 transition plays, according to Cleaning the Glass. That’s the third highest mark in the NBA and highlights how difficult it’s been for the Nuggets to stop opposing teams once they get out in transition.

Fortunately, Denver’s done a good job of getting back to prevent the total number of transition plays, but when the opposing team does get out and run, they’re often successful. Right now, the Nuggets are allowing just 13.0 points per game on fast breaks, according to, but that number will almost certainly increase if the Nuggets don’t fix their turnover issues.

Live ball turnovers are often the biggest swing factor in an NBA game outside of three-point shooting. Turn the ball over in a way that allows the opposing team to get out and run, and you’re likely to lose.

One of the reasons the Nuggets are turning the ball over more than ever before is their heightened pace of play. Through three games, the Nuggets are fourth in the NBA in pace. That will come down to earth eventually, but while the Nuggets are playing fast, they’re more likely to commit mistakes. There’s a trade-off between discovering easy points when pushing the pace and discovering new ways to turn over the ball.

Some of the turnovers are just routine sloppiness. The Nuggets aren’t usually an imprecise team, and Jamal Murray especially isn’t a player who gives the ball away frequently. He’s had some uncharacteristic turnovers trying to work his way back and just not executing plays he normally makes.

When working in new players that haven’t played with each other before, it takes a while to fully understand a teammate’s tendencies. Between Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown, it’s understandable that the Nuggets have struggled to hold onto the ball at times. When running offensive sets at full speed, it can be easy to misinterpret a teammate’s movement and assume they’re going to do something that they don’t end up doing. At the NBA level, defenses pounce on those miscommunications every single time.

So, as the Nuggets get adjusted during the early part of the season, turnovers appear to be a nice bellwether. Expecting them to cut turnovers out completely is a fool’s errand given the free-flowing, read-and-react style of play; however, there’s a healthy balance between taking chances and being reckless. The Nuggets have pushed the envelope there, and that’s fine early on. Putting those mistakes on film early will help the Nuggets become more surgical and precise as the season wears on.

Until then, expect the turnovers to keep opposing teams within striking distance more often than not.