PR2011: Evan Turner


Evan Turner, shooting a free throw at OSU. While now in the NBA, that quirky shooting motion remains the same. Credit: inphillywetrust.com

Evan Turner. Someone I was so optimistic about before the draft. Someone I thought could be a Brandon Roy kind of player, one who can score some but could impact the game through playmaking and rebounding. A more scoring, less defense and athletic Iguodala. Alas, the draft came and went, then summer league and the season, and Evan Turner has not lived up to any of that hype. Was it too much? Probably.

However, it’s definitely too early to call him a bust, since it looks like he’ll be a very valuable contributor in time. He already contributes to a playoff team, without the use of a consistent jump shot. He seems confident in his abilities and show only get better over time.

Looking at his history, it looks like fans like myself expected too much from Turner in his rookie year. In high school and college, he started slow but picked up his game at both stops. Here in the NBA, though, he has some things working against him. Lacking elite athleticism, Turner has to compete against some of the best athletes in the world. As a swingman, he has to learn how to play off the ball. Neither was an obstacle in previous stops, and that’s why I doubt that Even will reach the platform I though he would 9 months ago.

OFFENSE

Shooting

Stats: 42.1% FG, 27.5% 3FG, 81% FT

Evan’s jumper, as diagrammed before on other outlets, has an odd, mechanical release, which does two things. First, the release is slow, since he has to bring the ball in front of his body and then elevate it before releasing. A slower release leads to a more contestable and more blockable shot, which means he needs more space than theoretically necessary to get a shot off. And second, the motion, I believe, limits his range. While he can hit shots at an acceptable rate up to 18-feet from the rim, the shot has so much going on that, to me at least, it seems hard to get everything working from so far away. While he’s taken only 40 threes on the year, he’s only made 11, and the majority of his attempts were shot toward the end of the shot clock. To me, while that would lower his percentages (since most opportunities have been desperation attempts), it also shows that he’s nowhere near as confident in his ability to make threes as he is in his ability to make long-twos.

As the season has progressed, Evan’s field goal percentage has increased, which is good news. A guy with limited range shooting under 40% hurts your team offensively, especially given his lack of offensive production elsewhere. But to continue as a non-three-point threat perimeter player, he needs to increase his field goal percentage even more to be effective, to at least the high 40′s. His free throw shooting, meanwhile, is a plus at over 80%.

Scoring

Stats: 7.4 PPG, 7.0 FGA, 1.6 FTA

As I alluded to in the last section, Turner must improve his shooting percentages to be even a competent scorer. He takes too many shots to average only 7.4 PPG, since ideally the ratio would be at least 1.2 points per shot. Evan only averages 1.06 points per shot, so he needs to improve. He also doesn’t get to the line enough. As I’ve read before (I believe it was David Thorpe who wrote it, but I’m not positive) young players tend to settle for jumpers and shy away from contact early in their careers. Derrick Rose was a good example of this, although he normally is just too quick for most players to come in contact with. Remember kids, fast don’t lie.*

*How grammatically incorrect is this sentence? I mean seriously, I get you need a catchy slogan, but that’s just ridiculous.

Anyway, I believe it was David Thorpe that said Turner was too willing to shoot 18-footers instead of challenging the defense, and as a result he would be less efficient. The thing with Turner is that I can believe he can get to the rim despite his lack of elite quickness, since, as I’ll note later, he’s a good ball-handler. Turner’s also big enough to cause problems inside, but so far this year it appears he’s shying away somewhat from contact, trying to finish without the contact instead of embracing it. He could get to the line much more often, which could raise that points-per-shot attempt stat.

Passing and Ball-Handling

Stats: 2.1 AST, 1.0 TO

Turner averaged 6 assists in college, and because of this fans like me expected him to be a very good passer at his position. As it turns out, so far he hasn’t been. Yes, 2.1 assists aren’t bad for a non-point guard coming off the bench, but he doesn’t appear to be a very good passer for a swingman in the likeness of an Andre Iguodala. He gets assists because he often handles the ball when he’s on the court*. He does have good chemistry with Mo Speights when they’re on the court together and they run the pick-and-roll well with each other (look for this when watching the game – it’s pretty surprising). He also doesn’t turn the ball over as much as expected considering his numbers last year at Ohio State. But overall, he does not do a great job at setting teammates up for easy scoring opportunities.#

*And it’s been well-documented that he’s not good at playing off the ball.

#I’ll have a post on a topic related to this after this series is over. Maybe Friday of this week. And speaking of schedules, house construction knocked out my internet last night. So Holiday’s should come up late tonight/early tomorrow. I’m sorry for not being able to stick to the schedule.

DEFENSE

Rebounding

Stats: 4.2 RPG, 0.5 ORPG, 3.7 DRPG

You can see why people thought and still think Andre and Evan can’t play together. Each has similar strengths which separate him from others at the position, but they are alike in many areas, including rebounding. While AI9 sought to prove me wrong by grabbing like 5 boards on one possession, both he and Evan are great defensive rebounders for their size but don’t get involved on the offensive glass.

Individual Defense

0.6 STL, 0.2 BLK

Evan is actually much better defensively than I thought he was. He’s often included in crunch time lineups because of his stingy individual defense, especially on other shooting guards and small forwards. However, much larger or smaller opponents give him trouble, which I’m not sure the coaches have found out yet. I personally don’t expect him to be able to cover the Earl Boykins’ of the world, but he’s too often matched-up with them. Likewise, Tayshaun Prince and Grant Hill, two longer opponents, each gave him trouble on that end of the floor.

Team Defense

There’s a reason I separated the two defenses here: while Evan can play one-on-one defense very well, he struggles with team defensive schemes. It may be a lack of focus or the adaptation from college defense to pro defense, but he struggles with making plays off the ball. Several times in the closing seconds he’s failed to switch to an open man (see, for one example, Kevin Durant last week). With more time he should get better, but he’s made a lot of mistakes so far.

Tags: 76ers Basketball Evan Turner Sixers Sports