At the conclusion of the 2013-14 season, the members of the 2010 NBA Draft class’ rookie contracts will all slide off their respective teams’ salary cap and enter the curious world of the cap hold and qualifying offer.
The Draft’s No. 1 overall pick, John Wall has already signed a max extension with the Wizards. Larry Sanders cashed in with the Bucks this summer, too. DeMarcus Cousins is reportedly nearing a max-deal with Shaq-amento. And today, the Pacers and Paul George announced a 5 year/ $90 million max-agreement of their own.
However, no other member of this mediocre Draft class has struck a deal with their first professional teams. When you look over the class, that fact isn’t one that’s terribly difficult to swallow.
Only 18 of the players that were selected in on June 24, 2010 have, at bare minimum, carved out a niche on a team and received consistent minutes within an 8 to 10-man rotation.
Of course, the Philadelphia 76ers’ used the second overall pick in this very draft to bring Evan Turner to the Wells Fargo Center and the team’s fans—and Doug Collins—have clearly not taken a liking to The Enigma’s antics and style of play.
But, when you compare him to the rest of the Draft class, was the Sixers’ selection of Turner actually as abominable as it seems via the eye test?
If you take a birds-eye view of those aforementioned 18 players, you can break down the group in four categories: Franchise Players, Potential All-Stars, Third-Option Players and Contributing Role Players.
A franchise and potential All-Star player goes without explanation. A third-option player is someone who could one day be a third-option on a contending team and a contributing role player is someone who has already reached that level of play, but most likely won’t eclipse that threshold.
Here’s how it breaks down, in descending order of career success in the NBA.
1. Paul George
2. John Wall
3. DeMarcus Cousins
4. Greg Monroe
5. Larry Sanders
6. Derrick Favors
8. Gordon Hayward
9. Evan Turner
10. Lance Stephenson
11. Patrick Patterson
12. Eric Bledsoe
13. Avery Bradley
Contributing Role Players
13. Greivis Vasquez
14. Quincy Pondexter
15. Jordan Crawford
16. Ed Davis
17. Ekpe Udoh
18. Jeremy Evans
Clearly, the tier that generates the most debate is where Turner falls, players that can become a legitimate third-option on a contending team in the NBA. It’s also the role that is the hardest to fill and pay correctly in the NBA, so the discussion is warranted.
It’s inarguable that Lance Stephenson had the most impact in the playoffs this past season, averaging 9.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game for the Pacers this past postseason. But in terms of overall career, Stephenson has just been placed into an integral role in the League.
Next, Derrick Favors leads the pack in career PER and arguably has the best upside of any player in this group, being the physical specimen he is and being in a system that will certainly look to get he and Enes Kanter heavily involved over the next three seasons.
Thus, when you look at the rest of the category, the biggest debate lies in whether Turner is better than Favor’s teammate in Utah, Hayward. Look at their specific player comparison, especially in the advanced stats, and the former Butler Bulldog clearly takes the cake from Turner and Hayward is 17 months younger.
When you compare the two swingmen, Hayward bests Turner in every measurement of production within the game outside of rebounding and assists over their three-year careers all in 3.1 less minutes per game— though the assist margin is a narrow 0.7 per game since 2010-11. Hayward has also done this while attempting nearly two less shots per contest over his career as well.
But when you consider both of these players’ skills and attributes, they might work better as a potential third option for one team and not another. For example, Turner’s elite rebounding for his size (I’d say position, but we can’t necessarily pin him at a specific position) might blend in better with a team that has a surplus of scoring from its top-two options, say an Oklahoma City or Miami-type offensive system. But, Hayward’s ability to spot up and defend quicker perimeter players could fit the likes of the Memphis Grizzlies or San Antonio Spurs.
With all that in mind, even though he hasn’t amounted to the kind of player that you would like the number 2 overall pick in any given draft to be, Turner hasn’t had as horrible of an early career as Philadelphia has made it out to be, in context with the rest of his Draft class.
Now, in no way am I defending Turner. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’ve dramatically flipped from Turner fanboy to detractor over the course of the 2012-13 campaign. But, what all this does mean is that it may not be totally unrealistic for the Sixers to be able to swap Turner for one of the lower-ranked players from the 2010 class at some point this season. Obviously, the Jazz are tied to Hayward and Favors, the Pacers are locked in with Stephenson and the Suns just traded for Bledsoe. So those names are not likely pieces in any trade involving ET. But, the Sixes could feasibly deal Turner for anyone else that isn’t a franchise player or potential All-Star.
Hell, if Sam Hinkie packages Turner with Thad Young and New Orleans’ first round draft pick, maybe the 76ers could even bring in Cousins or Monroe if their respective situations don’t work out this season, provided they take back an additional contract, too. (It should go without saying that given the rumored DMC max-extension, the Detroit deal would be a much, much better option with the ability to take back an expiring deal in addition to the young, promising franchise cornerstone.)
At the end of this all, even if Philadunkia has grown tired of Evan Turner, his numbers actually look somewhat attractive with a slight hint of upside to the rest of the NBA. That’s a recipe for very exciting trade possibilities.