From franchise savior to epic bust to somewhere in between, no player has divided a fan base quite like Evan Turner. I was just as excited as everybody else when those ping pong balls fell our way, delivering us the #2 pick in the 2010 draft. I thought finally we somehow lucked into a franchise player, and the Sixers would surely be returning to contending status. Unexpectedly, the Sixers did not go 82-0 en route to a championship in Turner’s rookie season. Even more shocking was that Turner’s play wasn’t quite on par with Michael Jordan’s. In his first two years in the league, every possible excuse for his inconsistent play was made:
1. Collins is suppressing his growth because he hates rookies.
2. He is stuck playing behind Andre Iguodala.
3. He only gets to play with offensive black hole Lou Williams (wishing you a speedy recovery Sweet Lou).
4. Not unlike Baby from Dirty Dancing, he’s stuck in the corner.
5. He needs to play point guard like he did at Ohio State.
6. He’s a rhythm player that needs a few easy buckets to get his jump shot going.
7. Once he practices with Herb Magee (The Shot Doctor), he’ll become Ray Allen.
8. His athleticism is Snookie-esque.
9. He’s been dealing with a pesky hangnail for the past 24 months.
It was an understandable fan reaction. We expect a lot from such a high pick. When we didn’t get a lot, some people opted to search for reasons outside of the player. Others vowed that he was a terrible pick, and that they always said we should have drafted Derrick Favors, Demarcus Cousins, or Greg Monroe. Liars, all of them.
Here we are now, half way into ET’s 3rd year, and it seems that the extremists on both sides have tempered their emotions a bit. Iguodala and Lou Will are long gone. Turner plays starter’s minutes every night, and we continue to get more of a mixed bag: flashes of greatness, and great moments of flashiness (usually followed by him getting his shot blocked).
The Turner haters are mum because he has shown enough to demonstrate that he isn’t totally awful. Those in my camp, the ones that foresaw the second coming of Brandon Roy (version 2.0, now with knees), have lowered our expectations a bit.
In essence, Evan Turner’s play is the perfect microcosm for this team’s season. You never know what you are going to get. Consistent inconsistency.
He’s a better player than Darko, Thabeet, or even Beasley (all former #2 picks). Sixers fans can recognize that now, but we all know Kevin Durant isn’t coming out of that tunnel.