Sixers player evaluation: Evan Turner

Sixers player evaluation: Evan Turner

April 30, 2013, 9:00 am
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Evan Turner averaged career highs in points (13.3), rebounds (5.6) and assists (4.3), but his field goal percentage was the worst in his career (41.9). (USA Today Images)

Evan Turner

Position: Guard

Status: Signed through the 2013-14 season for $6.67 million. Restricted free agent in 2014.

Signature game of 2012-13
Turner’s best statistical game of the season was probably the New Year’s Day victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles. Turner had 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting. He made two of his three attempts from long range, and he added five assists and a season-high 13 rebounds. While he had other games with more points, the Lakers' outing was his most complete performance.

Turner in 2012-13
That might have been his best game, but his true signature game -- the game that most defined Turner -- came on Jan. 30 against the Washington Wizards at home. Here’s our summary from that evening:

Turner -- who scored six points on 27.2 percent shooting from the field -- looked lost for much of the evening. During one painful offensive possession in the first half, he dribbled for almost 24 seconds, got blocked, and then got called for a shot clock violation. You know those basketball training videos they show to kids? That sequence was the opposite.

That was Turner this season -- maddeningly inconsistent (see story). He often tried to do too much, frequently at the team’s expense.

Turner averaged 13.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists -- all of which were career highs. But he also played nine minutes more per game than he ever had before (accounting for the uptick in his numbers), while his 41.9 field goal percentage was the worst of his three-year career. And his player efficiency rating  was only 90th in the NBA.

After the aforementioned Wizards’ game in late January, Turner fell into a funk. He didn’t make a three-pointer for the entire month of February (0 for 13). And over the final 37 games of the season, he shot just 39.7 percent from the field and 30.6 percent from three-point range. He also averaged 2.2 turnovers.

Prospectus
Turner won’t turn 25 until October. He has talent, and he’s signed for at least another season.

The problem isn’t that he can’t play. The problem is that he often appears like he’s trying to prove himself -- as evidenced by the awful over-dribbling fiasco against the Wizards. Turner even admitted that, as a former second overall pick, he believes he should be the most important player on the team (even though he hasn’t performed to that level):

“I feel like what I am asked to do and what I am allowed to do lead to me getting the bulk of the blame in certain situations,” Turner said shortly before the season ended (see story). “It goes along with the status of being the No. 2 overall pick -- the No. 2 pick is supposed to be the franchise tag, but here it is a different situation because I am a role player.”

That’s the biggest issue with Turner. If he accepted his role, if he focused on what he does well -- rebounding, passing in transition, creating defensive matchup problems for smaller guards, etc. -- he could be a huge asset. He doesn’t seem willing to do that, however. Instead, Turner plays (and talks) like a man who won’t be content until he’s treated as the best player on the team, a player worthy of that No. 2 pick. Sadly, Turner doesn’t understand that he isn’t, and might never be, the Sixers’ principal star.

It’s one thing to be ambitious. It’s another when ambition becomes a detriment to your team.

On Evan Turner
“More opportunity, more responsibility will help mold me as a player. Slow and steady.”

-– Evan Turner, Jan. 30, 2013

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