THE EVAN TURNER BACKLASH, BACKLASH

Posted by: Tom Sunnergren
12/12/12 9:02 am EST

There aren’t a whole lot of areas, in sport or otherwise, where the opinion of the casual observer and the studied wisdom of the experts dovetail, so it’s worth noting that entering this season the two occasionally warring factions were in almost perfect agreement on this point: Evan Turner’s awfulness.

The reasoning went like this: he hurt his team directly by being a poor shooter and missing shots, then indirectly because the opposing player tasked with covering him could, secure in the knowledge that if ET hazarded an FGA he’d likely miss it, drift off him and into the lane; shrinking the floor and undermining scoring opportunities for his teammates.

The things Turner did well — like being the best defensive rebounding guard of all-time last season, for starters — were either glossed over by these critics, or explained away as insufficient to offset the harm he did to the Sixers’ offense. There were numbers involved in some of these arguments.

Sometime in early November though, the sentiment swung; slowly at first, then more abruptly. 

Something like a pro-Turner consensus began to emerge.

Corner 3s started dropping and glowing pieces cropped up in well-regarded publications.  Twitter became a ‘twitter with authentic affection for the Buckeye’s idiosyncrasies; the herky-jerk handle, the occasional offensive eruptions, the bizarre stat lines, that voice.  He’s been, along with Holiday and Thad Young, recognized as a key component of the Sixers “promising” triune core.

The snark stopped.  He’s become, if not loved, liked.

I’ve been glad to see it, despite the fact that it doesn’t really make any sense.

Here’s a thought exercise.  Take a gander at the per 48-minute averages of these three players.

 

PTS

TS%

ORB

REB

AST

TO

BLK

STL

PF

Player 1 

20.2

50.4

1.2

9.4

5.3

2.6

0.4

1.1

3.7

Player 2 

17.1

47.8

0.8

10.5

5.0

2.9

0.6

1.1

3.3

Player 3 

15.1

48.4

1.1

8.2

4.2

2.1

0.4

1.3

3.7

Though most of us, assuming they played the same position, would prefer player one to the other two, anyone with a solid read on what these numbers mean would agree that 1.) the difference between the three is marginal and 2.) we’re dealing with sound, well-rounded players here.

These three players are, in ascending order, Evan Turner in ’10-11, ’11-12, and ’12-13.

Contrary to prevailing opinion, though Turner has made modest improvements in his first three seasons —improvements that are exaggerated by the additional floor time he’s been given each year — what’s most remarkable here is his consistency.

Now, his 3-point shooting is much better this season — buoyed by a sudden mastery of the corner 3, where he’s made 14 of the 28 he’s attempted, Turner’s shooting 46% from long range so far, up from 22.4% last year — but this improvement is partially offset by a dip in two-point FG percentage; where he’s shooting 42.6 percent, four percentage points lower than he managed in ’11-12 and nearly a point lower than he shot in his rookie campaign.

It’s not clear either that Turner’s long range game has opened up more space for the other Sixers.

Just taking a cursory look at the numbers, while Thad Young and Jrue Holiday have enjoyed jumps in field goal percentage from last season to this, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen have taken steps backwards and the team as a whole has a True Shooting % of 50.4 — down from 51.1 a season ago, despite the fact that the Association average has risen 0.3 percentage points in this time.*

(*Admittedly, if we really wanted to roll up our sleeves and address this we’d have to compare the field goal percentages of Turner’s teammates when he was on the floor last season with their percentages when he’s on the floor this season, then account for variables like new teammates and the natural increase/decrease we’d expect to see in FG% based on the age of the players alone; i.e. Jrue Holiday is 22 this year and was 21 last year, and 22-year-olds generally shoot better than 21-year-olds. Thing is, this would have taken a lot of time.)

So, while the basic trajectory of the public’s attitude towards Evan Turner has gone something like “terrible, terrible, terrible, GREAT,” there’s no honest interpretation of his numbers that suggests an enormous leap forward, or that justifies the heat he took in seasons past.

Evan Turner isn’t the one that’s changed, we are.


 
 
 

21 Responses to “THE EVAN TURNER BACKLASH, BACKLASH”

  1. @JdotD
    12. December 2012 at 09:17

    Where on earth did Turner average 20 & 9 in his rookie year?!
    Even by per 36 I don’t get that?

  2. Ransom
    12. December 2012 at 11:08

    Per 48 stats are not a good measure of much. First of all…no one actually plays that long and if they did, production would tail, so what is it really predicting? stats in a world without fatigue? I understand the concept of norming based on minutes and why that’s important. But understand the flaws. There are plenty of guys (jose Calderon and Thaddeus Young come to mind) that look awesome per 48 and led to “give them more minutes” chants…except when they got more minutes…nothing happened (pre-2012-2013 Thad). Also, using per 48 on rookie years is just stupidly reckless. Does anyone, for example, really think Andre Drummond would average 17 and 17 on 60% shooting and 50% shooting from three? No, because he wouldn’t…so what’s it telling us?

  3. Steve Toll
    12. December 2012 at 11:41

    The #1 Reason I want Bynum to play this season is purely for how his presence will totally annihilate the defensive rebounding numbers of Evan Turner. Between that and the regression of his shots from 10-15 feet and 3pt land from Hall of Fame Level to Average (which is still far above what he has historically shot), people will finally see ET for what he is, a Point Guard who is otherwise a huge negative

  4. haygood
    12. December 2012 at 11:47

    The numbers are in ascending order, so his rookie numbers are Player 3…

  5. Mike
    12. December 2012 at 11:52

    It is in ascending order, so the last one is his rookie year, and its per 48 minutes.

  6. Rob
    12. December 2012 at 12:10

    As stated by ransom these per 48 numbers are outrageous. Evan turner will never ever ever average 20 points a game if anything if he keeps improving he could have a stat line similar to iggy.

  7. Steve Rob.
    12. December 2012 at 12:11

    Tom,

    This is a very interesting article. I would not consider myself a casual observer but my opinion has changed with the rest of them. I have watched almost every Sixer game over the last two and a half years. During that time I read almost every post on this blog. I could not stand watching turner but at the same time I always thought he deserved more minutes.
    I guess my rational for “hatin” was he did not do anything well we he did get playing time. And by anything I mean he did not do anything too well on the offensive end, except maybe passing. I am not sure if I was the only one but I wished (before this season) he was traded instead of Iggy. I thought, if he did not play a lot and did not play well when he did why is here?
    Now of course I am glad he stayed and he has a good relationship with Collins. He has the trust of the organization and now he has the trust of the people. I think that maybe why the changed in opinion is so dramatic. The Iggy trade seem to say we have Turner now and he can get it done.

    Thanks for this article.

  8. Paul
    12. December 2012 at 12:48

    Steve, I will never understand your stubbornness towards the Sixers. Don’t like Bynum coming back will make Turner useless. For whatever it takes away from his rebounding numbers, it will almost surely help him from an offensive standpoint to have a big like that clearing space and demanding attention. It just baffles me how you can watch the Sixers this year and still constantly bash Turner while you continue to defend Spencer Hawes

  9. Jon in LA
    12. December 2012 at 15:37

    You can’t use someone’s numbers against bench players, calculate that per 48 mins, and compare them to starting minutes. He’s playing less minutes against lesser competition. He’s playing way better this season, and it’s pretty clear.

    Steve Toll, please go write for the Nuggets blog. They would love for someone to hang off of Iggie’s HOF nuts.

    And if you admit that you want to see us fail, then why do you even write here? Is it for lack of a girlfriend?

  10. Chuck
    12. December 2012 at 15:58

    Toll is a dope. If anything Bynum could hurt Jrue’s numbers more. The offense would be run through him as much, at least Evan can board and get just about anywhere he wants because of his size. I’ve always supported Evan, I’m happy to see how much he and Jrue have improved. I think Thad is playing well, but if anything, his numbers are the most misleading this season. And Hawes and Lavoy are bums.

  11. Chuck
    12. December 2012 at 16:26

    I don’t see Evan as the problem with this squad at all. The bigger problem is what happens when Jrue goes out the game or when Evan goes out the game, we only have one playmaker at that point if they both aren’t on the court. This is where it would’ve been nice to have Lou, or any guy that can score and do a little inside out distributing.

    Essentially our biggest problem this year is passing the ball, for all the shooting we got in the offseason we loss our biggest plus when it came to score which was “assists”. Especially at our bigs, right now Brand would be a tremendously better option than Hawes or Allen, at every aspect especially moving the rock. I think the Sixers would be smart to deal for a PF that can move the ball around and another ball handler/playmaker because we only have Jrue and ET that can do that. I’d like to see trades for Aldridge, Millsap or Smith. Josh Smith would be the least likely but you could probably package Thad and Nick Young for one the previous two. I’d also like to see Nick Young or Wright (throw in Hawes or Allen) be dealt for a guy that can play 1/2 off the bench, maybe like a Stuckey.

  12. Sloetry
    12. December 2012 at 16:45

    Steve to want Bynum back just to negate Turner’s stats, or to prove you right, is a really strange way to write about a team as a columnist.
    I don’t deny at times you have valid points or arguments to make, but the way you make them is destructive to the website, even if it does achieve hits purely because readers get so wound up. I used to get uptight by your writing but I don’t let that bother me anymore. What I am baffled by is the (lack of) editorial control on this site that allows such aggravated writing, or columnists arguing with each other in public when they should be protecting the ESPN affiliated brand that you are representing.
    As I said, it doesn’t get to me anymore, but it is a very strange and unprofessional way to run a site.

  13. Hoops
    12. December 2012 at 17:50

    Well said Sloetry. Philadunkia, count me as another one of your fans that wants you to get your house in order.

  14. Sun of Man
    12. December 2012 at 22:17

    Steve Toll is still wet behind the ears as a mature guy. He is 20 years old. There’s a reason why he would make such statements. He wants Evan Turner to perform to the detriment of the sixers so his predictions can be validated. He wants to be skip bayless. I get a kick out of his columns and enjoy the back and forth him and Jeff have. I think it adds to the Philly way of life when to writers go at it. But when you have writers making immature statements such as wanting a player to come back from injury just so the other teammates stats dip because of subjective dislike does indeed call the staff into question of their personnel. It’s one thing to be a contrarian it’s another to wish ill will on a player based on emotional feelings.

    Steve said ET will be a d leaguer next year. He also never played basketball. He was a wrestler. He’s only recently been an avid b ball fan. Wrestling and groping moves are his area of expertise. He should start a wrestling blog and stick to what he knows best.

  15. Steve Toll
    12. December 2012 at 23:45

    Correction: The #1 reason I want Bynum back as it pertains to ET is so that fans get to truly see the player that ET is. Once his rebound numbers takes a serious dip and he regresses shooting the ball, there will be no more question about ET as a player and this non sense can finally stop.

    Bynum getting healthy is obviously most important. There is no question about the level of production he will provide when healthy. It’s safe to assume that my #1 reason for Bynum (as it pertains to ET) returning is predicated upon him regaining the health in his knees. Any other thought is just foolishnish.

    There is nothing to do with “want” in my writing. When you are consistently correct and faced with unmitigated resistance regardless of the obvious facts, it is easy to seem like the crazy guy in the room.

    This team will be far better off when Bynum is healthy, ET is at the point, Jrue is taking 5+ 3pt shots a game at the point, Thad continues his improvement while reintegrating the 3pt shot, Lavoy+Hawes get steady playing time and Kwame+Nick Young are replaced by actual NBA level basketball players. I’ve said this repeatedly and it is constantly ignored by the masses.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/friv/playoff_prob.cgi
    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/sagarin/nba1213.htm
    http://espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/powerrankings/_/page/2
    http://www.teamrankings.com/nba/rankings/

    Before the Bynum trade I had this team pegged at 31-51. Before the start of the season I had the team at 38-44. It’s plainly obvious to everyone not in the Philadelphia area that this team is destined to fall somewhere between these 2 predictions within a game or 2. So while you have your opinions and pick to choose where and when you want to nit pick a quote here and there, I feel quite strong about all that I have written and expect things to play out accordingly.

    Just for good measure, I’ve said this countless time over and over again: This team will be far better off when Bynum is healthy, ET is at the point, Jrue is taking 5+ 3pt shots a game at the point, Thad continues his improvement while reintegrating the 3pt shot, Lavoy+Hawes get steady playing time and Kwame+Nick Young are replaced by actual NBA level basketball players. I’ve said this repeatedly and it is constantly ignored by the masses.

  16. steven
    13. December 2012 at 09:08

    I don’t undestand why Philadunkia would give Steve Toll a forum for writing purely negative anti-Sixers articles. He is entitled to his opinions but a Pro-Sixer website does not seem the place for a person who obviously doesnt like the Sixers.It’s one thing to critique the Sixers management but when every single piece of his writing is about how bad every Sixer is and will be and how he “hopes a player comes back so the team can get worse and he can prove his point…doesnt make sense.Please remove STEVE TOLL from the site…PLEASE!

  17. Steve Toll
    13. December 2012 at 13:02

    Steven,

    My point has nothing to do with ET getting worse. It’s the ridiculous mirage that his rebounding numbers give off that I look forward to evaporating in the eyes of 76er fans with the return of an elite defensive rebounding center. ET will still be the same player if he grabs 3+ LESS defensive rebounds a game, but all those empty D-Rebounds won’t be going on his stat sheet anymore.

    I’m not sure where you got the notion that I suggested the team would be worse with the return of Bynum but that is absurd. I’ve consistently said this team would be much better with a healthy Bynum. That being said, by the time Bynum returns which looks to be around February 1st, making the playoffs could be out of reach

  18. Lennix
    14. December 2012 at 00:05

    lol for the toll booth “Spin: Iguodala, who came in to the game shooting just 30% over his last five games, didn’t get any relief in Minnesota. While he did manage to dish out seven assists, grab four boards and chip in one steal and one block, he also committed a team-high five turnovers. We don’t know if/when Iguodala will break out of this slump, but if he doesn’t do it soon the former All-Star may find himself relegated to A BACK-UP ROLE, or at the very least much farther down the offensive options list for the Nuggets.” hall of famer indeed, wasnt iverson more productive when he was traded to the nuggets? guess its too soon to tell look up those numbers

  19. Vitaliy
    14. December 2012 at 11:15

    Stats never tell the whole story. Watching the games does give you a better idea of how good a player is. I see many instances where a statistic lies. A player being stuck with the last second desperation heave at the end of shot or game clock. A beautiful drive creating a wide open dunk or easy shot where the finisher messes up. Or a mishandle on a very easy catch. Or a shot that was offensively interfered by a teammate. There are many instances where stats do not tell the whole truth.
    I am always hesitant to jump on bandwagons and either love or hate a player. This article does a good job of explaining how media is great at brainwashing some fans.
    Evan Turner has the potential to be a steady contributor at a relatively high level for a number of years in the nba.

  20. hk
    15. December 2012 at 07:29

    Should a 34% increase in Points/48, a 15% increase in Rebounds/48 and a 26% increase in Assists/48 over 2 years only be considered modest improvement?

  21. Steve Toll
    17. December 2012 at 23:53

    HK,

    ET is a good facilitator, that’s never been in question.

    As for rebounding, nobody in NBA jistory has grabbed Defensive rebounds at the rate of ET and grabbed offensive rebounds at a lower rate.

    His scoring is still not exactly efficient and he’s currently stroking at a hall of fame level from multiple spots on thefloor

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