Which NBA players average the most turnovers per game in NBA history?

When a team turns over the ball and the coach goes crazy, there’s a reason for that. That’s because turnovers aren’t just one lost offensive possession in a vacuum. Depending on when that turnover occurs, it can disrupt the rhythm of your team’s offense and can cause problems the rest of the game.

Particularly bad turnovers can be extremely frustrating like when there’s a two-on-one fast break, being unnecessarily fancy, or turning over the ball at critical junctures in the game can cause friction between players; sometimes even affecting those teammates relationships.

Coughing up the ball can come in a variety of forms. When we think of turnovers, we think of bad passes that go out of bounds or stolen by the opposing team, but turnovers often occur as player control (offensive) fouls, illegal screens, three-second violations, traveling or simply dribbling off their own foot (which happens more than you think).

What players have the highest turnover average of all-time?

So which NBA player has turned the ball over the most per game in NBA history?

As of this post, the NBA player that averages the most turnovers per game is Russell Westbrook. In fact, Westbrook is the only player in NBA history that has career average above four in this infamous category.

But before we start going in on Westbrook, he’s not the only superstar on this list. Not by a long shot. If we’re to look at the players that have the most turnovers all time, you’ll see names like LeBron James, John Stockton and Kobe Bryant at the top of that list with Karl Malone at the top of that list with a record 4,524 total turnovers.

In defense of Malone, his longevity hurt him in this one statistic as he “only” averaged 3.07 turnovers per game during his nearly 20-year NBA career. That’s 13th all time in terms of per game averages. Not bad considering the pile of turnovers he’s amassed. To put that in context,, Westbrook is currently averaging a full turnover a game than Malone at 4.08 turnovers.

Here’s the list of the NBA players that have the highest turnovers averages in NBA history

NBA players with highest turnover averages
Rank Player Pos. Turnovers Avg.
1 Russell Westbrook PG 3562 4.08
2 Magic Johnson PG 3506 3.87
3 Isiah Thomas PG 3682 3.76
4 James Harden SG 3043 3.68
5 Allen Iverson SG/PG 3262 3.57
6 LeBron James SF 4402 3.5
7 Reggie Theus PG/SG 3493 3.4
8 Bernard King SF 2791 3.19
9 Dwyane Wade SG 3326 3.16
10 Charles Barkley PF 3376 3.15
11 Larry Bird SF/PF 2816 3.14
12 Kevin Durant SF 2653 3.12
13 Karl Malone PF 4524 3.07
14 Moses Malone C 3804 3.05
15 Stephon Marbury PG 2547 3.01
16 Patrick Ewing C 3537 2.99
17 Kobe Bryant SG 4010 2.98

After Westbrook are iconic point guards Magic Johnson (3.87) and Isiah Thomas (3.76) then Westbrook’s current teammate on the Houston Rockets James Harden (3.68) who owns the NBA record for the most turnovers in one season and in an NBA playoff game with 13.

Allen Iverson joins Harden as the only shooting guards to round out the top five.

As you can see from the list, it’s not a list full of point guards as one might expect. For the most part, the all-time leaders weren’t all necessarily known for their passing prowess so much as their team’s offense often ran through them. Centers like Moses Malone and Patrick Ewing, forwards Kevin Durant and Charles Barkley all had/have career assist averages below five.

Now that you mention it, it’s not a surprise that the Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t win an NBA championship with three players in the top twelve of all time in turnovers per game. You had Westbrook (#1), Harden (#4), and Durant (#12) on the same team.

The outliers in this list are Reggie Theus and Stephon Marbury — both played in two NBA all-star teams, but their names being on the top 20 of this list definitely don’t make sense among the assist leaders, scoring champions and Hall of Famers.

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