Amidst all the Jeremy Lin hoopla the past fortnight, just about the only concern that people seem to be raising about his game are the apparently large number of turnovers he's producing. Through his last game against Sacramento, it was 5.1 TOV/36 minutes. Seems high, right?
Think about this, though. Jeremy Lin has the ball in his hands A LOT. Right? I mean, that much is obvious. That's been the whole problem with the Knicks is that they didn't have anyone who could handle the ball. So Jeremy has had a lot of touches. We don't have a real-time source for touches, so nobody really knows exactly how much the ball is in his hands, but it's got to be up there among the league leaders per minute (or per possession) right now.
So, the question we should really be asking is whether Jeremy Lin's turnovers are *adding* to what we would expect the team to have if he weren't in the lineup. To answer this question, we can calculate his adjusted turnovers (turnovers at the team level per 100 possessions), in the same way that adjusted +/- is done, and just as I've been doing adjusted versions for the various shot locations recently. In fact, Jeremias Engelmann was the first (and only?) person I know that has calculated adjusted turnover rates, which you can find here for 2009-2011. If you look on there, Lin has a 0.0 offensive rating and a +0.7 defensive rating. To give a comparison, Stephen Curry (also playing for the Warriors) had a +0.1 offensive rating. So, at least, through his rookie season, there was nothing to suggest that Lin had a terrible problem with turnovers (and was in fact a net positive on the defensive end).
Those figures were through last season, so I decided to run an updated version from 2010 through yesterday's games (basically 2 1/2 years). This would include all the playing time for Lin this season in NYK. Instead of running a ridge regression as Jerry did, I used a regression technique called lasso which is used to select factors in a model that tend to have the largest effect. All other factors are set to zero.
What I found is that Jeremy Lin's offensive adjusted turnover rating was set to zero by the regression, meaning that he doesn't have a significant effect on the turnover rate at the team level. However, on the defensive side, his rating is +1.14, which suggests not only does he not have a major problem with turnovers, he's actually helping his team more often than not in *creating* turnovers by the opponent. In fact, a lot of the Knicks are. Iman Shumpert, Jared Jeffries, Josh Harrellson, and Toney Douglas are all net positives on defense and rank in the top 20. If people would pause long enough to look, they would see that while New York is near the bottom of the league in coughing the ball up (my guess is much of that due to pre-Lin play), they are actually second in the league behind Memphis in opponent turnover rate. So I'm really not that worried about Lin's offensive turnovers, and I think you shouldn't be either. And that's not even considering that he is getting the first major minutes of his career, and has (presumably) time and talent to improve.
Here are the results of the regression, for those who are interested in where everyone stands.