An Enigma Until the End

turnerblackbackdropeditedEvan Turner was perhaps the most frustrating and mystifying 76er I ever watched in my nearly 30 years of rooting for the franchise.

One night Turner would hang 34 points on the Knicks thanks to 59% shooting from the field and actually look like a player who should have been taken No. 2 overall in the 2010 NBA Draft.  The next night he would shoot 2-10 and total 6 points against the Hawks while acting like an overly dramatic teenager towards the officials all night and his head coach at times.

Turner’s roller coaster level of of play and his highly emotional mind set are the reasons I dubbed him  “The Enigma”.  And that nickname served the combo-guard well right up to his final moments in a Sixers uniform as it appears executives around the Association found Turner just as difficult to figure out as we did.

 

 

When it was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports that Tuner had been shipped to Indiana in exchange for Danny Granger and a 2015 2nd round draft pick, I thought to myself, ‘That’s it?  That’s all we got for Turner’.

After months of shopping Turner all Sam Hinkie could pull out of the trade market was a future 2nd round pick and a former All-Star and 20-points per game scorer who thanks to a left knee injury is a shell of his former self.  For those of you who have not followed the Pacers closely this year, in 2013-14 Granger is averaging just 8 points and 3 boards on 22 minutes of run per night for Indiana.  In his last 10 games, he is scoring 7.7 points per game  on 33.8 percent shooting.  Needless to say, these are career low numbers from a player who once considered one of the deadliest shooters in the NBA — three straight season of 20+ ppg.; 42% or better shooting from the field and 36% or better shooting from three.  The kicker is that the rumor mill is saying that the Sixers will buy out Granger before March 1st.

Meanwhile, Turner a former #2 overall draft pick who is only 25 years old, has blossomed in Brett Brown’s up-temp0 attack this season by averaging a career-high 17.4 points, six rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.  According to to basketball-reference.com (via Rob Mahoney at the Point Forward blog) just four other players in the Association can boast a stat line like that — Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Lebron and KD.

Yet Hinkie could not even get a late 1st round pick for Turner as the trade deadline closed in yesterday.  Why?  Because it wasn’t just Doug Collins and Brett Brown that didn’t know what to do with Turner on the court, the rest of the NBA remains unsure as well.

Turner was at his best when he had the ball in his hands.  He can handle the rock decently enough to play some point.  He can create his own shot with enough frequency to score some as well.  When he has the pill, he finds the open teammate on occasion. Yet at his “best” he doesn’t score the ball at the rim with consistency or shoot the ball from the outside well enough to be a #1 scoring option on offense. And when he dominated the ball for the Sixers, he didn’t the offense was frequently stagnant and he didn’t make his teammates around him better, so he was never going to be a solid NBA point guard.

Yes, Turner put up some fantastic numbers for Brown this year, but in a League that loves the 3-ball and advanced metrics, he is a horrible 3-point shooter and the advanced stats tell you he is one the least efficient players in the game today.

I recall that after the 76ers selected Turner in the 2010 Draft, I spoke with a number of League personnel executives and scouts and what his position he would play in the NBA.  There was nothing close to a consensus among the people I spoke with at that time.  Hell, there wasn’t even a majority opinion in my notes.   I don’t remember that type of variation happening with any other 76er draft pick and I should have known back then that story line was going to be a problem for Turner during his career in Philadelphia.

The good news is that trying to determine what to do with “The Enigma” is now Frank Vogel and Larry Bird’s problem.  The bad news is we wasted a lot of time and energy on ET and in finally trading away Turner (and Lavoy), the 76ers now have nothing to show for their 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 NBA Draft efforts.

 

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