Sixers player evaluation: Evan Turner

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Sixers player evaluation: Evan Turner

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

Reports: Pacers the latest team pursuing Jahlil Okafor

Reports: Pacers the latest team pursuing Jahlil Okafor

Another team has emerged in Jahlil Okafor trade talks: the Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers are pursuing Okafor in an attempt to add help for Paul George, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, Jeff Goodman and Chris Haynes.

Indiana would make some sense for Okafor because of their style of play. The Pacers rank 25th in the NBA in fastbreak points per game. They're 25th in speed/distance traveled on offense. (The Sixers are first.) 

And Indiana is also in the top-third of the league in post touches and paint touches per game. 

Al Jefferson, a plodding post player Okafor is often compared to, averages 8.5 points for the Pacers this season and has played in every game.

What might the Pacers be willing to part with?

Thaddeus Young would be a solid return, but it's hard to see the Pacers doing that because it wouldn't make them a better team.

C.J. Miles? Probably not. The guy's an elite three-point shooter.

Forget about Myles Turner, one of the best young bigs in the NBA. 

A trade that might make sense for both teams would be Monta Ellis and a 2017 first-round pick for Okafor. (Before you continue reading, just know I'm not advocating for such a deal, just bringing up the possibility.)

Ellis has fallen out of favor in Indiana, playing six fewer minutes per game than he did the last two years. And as a 31-year-old, undersized two-guard who's long struggled from three-point range, he's not the most efficient player. He's also owed $23 million the next two seasons.

The Sixers could use additional scoring, but could do better than Ellis in free agency. This theoretical trade would really be about the first-round pick.

If the season ended today, the Pacers (29-28) would get the 18th overall pick. In that regard, the pick coming back wouldn't be much different than what they could have received from New Orleans before the DeMarcus Cousins trade.

The Sixers seemed unwilling to take on the contracts of Omer Asik or Alexis Ajinca in a trade with New Orleans because, even though they have salary cap flexibility, they don't want to limit their payroll for multiple future seasons. The same would likely be true with Ellis, even though he'd fill more of a need.

Okafor for Miles would be a good trade for the Sixers. So would Okafor for Young. But again, neither deal would make Indiana better in the short term, so it's probably a pipe dream.

The trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m.

Apparently, DeMarcus Cousins threatened to fight Nik Stauskas on a plane

Apparently, DeMarcus Cousins threatened to fight Nik Stauskas on a plane

Apparently, DeMarcus Cousins wasn't a big fan of Nik Stauskas.

Discussing the Cousins trade on his podcast Monday, Zach Lowe recalled a story from two years ago when Cousins threatened Stauskas on Sacramento's team flight to China.

"DeMarcus Cousins ruined Nik Stauskas, or almost did," Lowe said. "The stories about DeMarcus Cousins berating Nik Stauskas, threatening to fight Nik Stauskas on the plane when they were going to China for the preseason. 

"He ruined Nik Stauskas, he ruined Sauce Castillo to the point where he just had to go somewhere else."

Lowe and guest Brian Windhorst went on to compare Stauskas to Buddy Hield, the centerpiece of the Kings' return for Cousins. Both felt the Kings did poorly in the Cousins trade, arguing the draft pick they received from the Pels was equivalent to the one they got from the Hornets (No. 22) for Marco Belinelli.

Windhorst told a story of a conversation he had recently with a personnel executive who said Hield will be a backup two-guard. 

"You know who [Hield] is very similar to in that regard?" Lowe asked. "Nik Stauskas."

"[Stauskas] had a nice stretch in the first third of the season for the Sixers (which showed) he's going to be a rotation player. I think he settles into that — his shooting has slumped a little bit. But that's an example of DeMarcus Cousins ruined Nik Stauskas, and now they're trading him for maybe an equivalent player."

The Kings are just a complete mess, which is hugely important for the Sixers, who own pick swap rights with Sacramento in the 2017 draft and also have the Kings' unprotected 2019 first-rounder (see story).

That trade continues to boost former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie's credibility and make Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and GM Vlade Divac look like they don't know what they're doing.

"If your owner has stability and knows what he's doing and knows how to hire the right people and get out of their way, that's a (good) situation. This was created by Vivek," Windhorst said.

"And that doesn't mean that Vlade didn't make the decisions within the trade that they made with Philadelphia, but putting Vlade in that position when he wasn't ready for it — and I think everybody, including Vlade would agree — led to this.

"I just can't believe how little they got (for Cousins). You know that they've been offered so much more for DeMarcus in the past. And so not only is the recent decision to basically sell the long-term for the now, to trade Nik Stauskas so that you can sign Kosta Koufos or whatever else they did with that money, going and signing Arron Afflalo."

At that point, Lowe interjected and poured on poor Vlade, recounting the players Divac signed with the money freed up in the Stauskas heist.

"Kosta Koufos, Rajon Rondo — who might be out of the freaking league next year — and Marco Belinelli. ... That's who they traded those picks and swap rights for — those three players, who aren't going to help you win and everybody knew they weren't going to help you win. And they could have acquired two of them via free agency if they used the stretch provision and had any idea what the stretch provision was."

The Kings made their bed. Their only real chance of avoiding a catastrophic next few years is if Hield — a.k.a. Stauskas 2.0 — can pull them out of it.