Evan Turner the versatile, 6’7 small forward for our Philadelphia 76ers is now two years removed from the star studded career at Ohio State which enabled him to become the second overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft. Unfortunately in his first two seasons with the Sixers Turner has not produced the star type numbers many had been expecting.
Yes we have seen flashes of brilliance, but his overall averages are actually pretty weak — 8.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. The only positive way to look at that stat line is to keep in mind that Doug Collins has only played ET and average of 24.5 minutes a game for the past two seasons. And if we are totally honest, we should also note that Collins has not done a great job of managing the still developing Turner as the coach has frequently toyed with the kid’s minutes and mind.
Year three will be a crucial season for Turner. With Andre Iguodala now in Denver, ET will have an opportunity to win a spot in the first-five for the Sixers and hopefully put together a breakout season that will be the spring board for a great NBA career. For that breakout season to happen in 2012-13 there are three things that Evan Turner needs to do this year.
1) Play good defense on other team’s best offensive player.
With Dre now in Denver, Turner must step up and play the type of quality defense Iguodala was known for every night. Now I am not asking or expecting Turner to be as great defensively as Iguodala was, but if Turner can play at 85% of the level Iguodala did defensively he will conquer this task. Iguodala (6’6, 207 lbs) and Turner ( 6’7, 205 lbs) have very similar builds and are both great athletes, so the physical potential for Turner to be a very good defender is there. Turner was known in college for being a lock down defender. He spent the last two seasons under the guidance of Doug Collins with Iguodala mentoring him on the side. In theory already solid defensive skills combined the past two seasons with the Sixers should have given Turner the mental toughness and proper techniques for playing lockdown defense in the NBA. So, with more minutes and high profile defensive assignments in 2012-13 the pressure will be on Turner to step up and set the tone at the defensive end for the Sixers. Whether or not he can handle this new responsibility will be a key to ET having a breakout season this year.
2) A improved jump shot.
Straightening out his improving, but still not reliable jumper could be the key to not just a breakout season in 2012-13 for Turner. It could also determine what kind of career Turner will have in this League. Look, I am not saying Turner needs to become a 3-point sniper — although he needs to improve on his dismal 22.4% shooting from behind the arc — but he needs to consistently knock down open looks in the mid to long range two pointer area. This skill set will be extra important this year as the arrival of Andrew Bynum who is sure to see double or triple teams every time he touches the ball in the post and will create numerous open looks for the Sixers perimeter players. Turner must be a consistent option for Bynum to swing the ball out to for made FGs and the occasional 3-point bucket. The ability to convert on those open looks created by Bynum’s presence will help Turner in multiple ways. First, an improved jumper will gain more respect from defenders for his outside game and they’ll be forced to “play up” on him. This should allow Turner to do what he does best: use his quickness to blow by defenders, drive and attack the rim. Second, if Turner (and the other perimeter players) can consistently knock down these open two’s as well as some three pointers, opponents will eventually have to stop double / triple teaming Bynum which will ultimately open up more opportunities for Bynum to score.
3) Must continue to drive to the basket and draw more contact.
Evan Turner in his rookie season was 81% from the free throw line which is above the League average. In his sophomore season he slumped a little bit and shot only 68% from the stripe. That could be from the result of his erratic minutes and /or the pressure of not knowing when or why Collins was going to yank him out of the game. It could also be a result of his work-in-progress jumper that shot doctor extraordinaire Herb Magee has been tweaking. Still, his rookie season free throw percentage shows that potentially he could be a very good free throw shooter. Thus if he would go to the tin hard, draw contact and get to the line more often Turner could significantly increase his scoring. This past season (In limited minutes of course.) Turner only got to the line 108 times. That will not be enough for him to become a “go to” scoring option for the Sixers in 2012-13. In comparison, Lou Williams got to the line 292 times in 2011-12. That is the number Turner needs to set as his goal for this upcoming season. Turner needs to attack the basket relentlessly like Lou did and have that killer instinct to be a “go to” option on this team. By continually attacking the basket he will get easier looks and hopefully draw more contact which should produce increased FTAs. This combination should lead to increased scoring for Turner and help produce a breakout season for @thekidet in 2012-13.