Did Picking Evan Turner Destroy the 76ers Future?


As the 76ers offseason drags on, I find myself having to turn away from NBA TV and indulging in some of the other fine sports we have to offer here in Philadelphia.

A few nights ago I was so bored I actually sat through the entire Eagles’ fourth preseason game. It was a dull thursday. But it turned out to be a pretty fruitful endeavor for me, because I got to cross off one of the odder events on my bucket list: Watching a man lose his job in real time.

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Alex Henery had the uncomfortable task of following a kicking legend in Philadelphia like David Akers. Even following a kicking legend is a tough task in the City of Brotherly Love. However, this man was not only not Akers, he was barely an above average player at his position. Chip Kelly gave Henry a shot last season, but once Cody Parkey came in and hit a couple 50-plus yard field goals, most knew Henry was not long for this team.

One thing I totally forgot about Henry, he was a fourth-round draft pick. That’s a laughably high selection for a man who seems like he really can’t kick.

I personally think it maybe a psychological problem, but that theory is for another post, on another site.

But since I really do hate myself, I went to see who the Eagles missed out in this round because of their sure thing kicker.

Ah, hello Richard Sherman.

Now… why do I write about this on a basketball website? A debate I have often had involves the 2010 NBA Draft. That was the year that the Sixers selected Evan Turner with the 2nd pick.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

On the surface the draft wasn’t that deep. It seemed like it was John Wall, Evan Turner, DeMarcus Cousins and a lot of role players. Paul George came from this draft and has had a “decent” career so far, and we wish him a full recovery from his injury.

The 76ers drafting Evan Turner seemed like a logical pick. He was the Player of the Year in college, filled the shooting guard hole and was good compliment to the 76ers young core. It made enough sense at the time. However, there was a nice sized group of people who thought they should of spent that pick on the talented, yet short tempered center from Kentucky: DeMarcus Cousins.

At the time the team had Elton Brand and Thaddeus Young on the bench, so I didn’t really think they were going to devote a pick that high to create a log jam at one position.

Even though it was logical to see why Philadelphia wanted Cousins. One of the more talented players in college with an overt personality, Cousins was must see TV with his teammates down at Kentucky.

Now that Evan is no longer with the 76ers, and DeMarcus is playing for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup, it seems like a good enough time to compare the two careers and see if Cousins may of been the correct choice after all.

Evan Turner

DeMarcus Cousins

Now, I am well aware they played two different positions and that leads to a multitude of factors on why some of the statics are skewed in categories. However weighing these factors all together it seems that Cousins is having the better career. Why?

My theory here is better management and player development going on in Sacramento. Yes, that Sacramento.

The year of the draft the Kings ended up with a lower pick than the 76ers, but I wouldn’t say that was a real barometer for where those two teams were. Despite having the second pick that year, it seemed like the Sixers were a team trending upward.

Philly had young talent mixing with a nice set of vets and were two years and six minutes away from almost making the Eastern Conference finals. Turner was going to be a very important piece to the teams development. Maybe they hoped he’d eventually be a star in this league, but he wasn’t there to turn the franchise around.

Cousins, however, had a different life in Northern California. Even though he didn’t have a college POY under his belt, he was one of the more talented players in the draft.

Jan 29, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers small forward Evan Turner (12) celebrates after making the game-winning shot against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

While the 76ers didn’t NEED a forward as much as they needed a scorer, the Kings had pretty much needed the exact opposite, while also needed helping right away.

In Philly, it wasn’t a perfect lineup, but one that could allow Turner to come off the bench and learn behind vets. Cousins was pushed into the pool instantly. So far in their four year careers, Turner has only started 56 percent of the games he as played in. Cousins: 92 percent.

The 76ers, flat out, didn’t give Turner the reps he deserved, thus stunting his potential and confidence as an NBA caliber player.

Cousins got to play day one, Turner had to earn his time on the floor and a quick slip-up could have it taken away just as quick.

So, what does this mean for the overall experiment? Its actually a little complicated, because of scouting, the accolades, and him being the best statistical player on the board at the time the 76ers picked Evan Turner.

Many were aware he couldn’t really shoot and had trouble creating shots without the ball, but those issues were outweighed by potential. Even Turner type body types just don’t happen.

Cousins was more talented than Turner, but was raw and had very poor coping skills. The log jam at his position made it seem like even more of a project than Turner looked like.

Furthermore, with this drastic change in regime down in South Philly in the past few years, who’s to say Cousins doesn’t become a casualty to the Sam Hinkie project?

Looking back now, I probably would have made the same move the Sixers did at the time. Even with Cousins addition to the team over the last four years, are the 76ers honestly a better team. Does 2011-2012 season play out any differently with Boogie over ET? I really don’t think so.

Can’t blame the front office for the draft, but you can blame them for the management after. Either way… I am really happy the Eagles cut Alex Henery.