A few years ago, Evan Turner impressed fans as well as scouts with his brilliant all around play at the collegiate level while attending Ohio State university. In his junior season, Turner could seemingly do it all and play four positions. He had the ability to handle the ball, pass, anticipate what defenses would do to defend him, finish with both hands around the basket, absorb physical contact, rebound and score.
He wasn’t blessed with blazing speed or athletic ability reminiscent of leapers such as Vince Carter or Josh Smith, but he still managed to get things done with his below the rim game. At the time, the Buckeye was being compared to an NBA player with similar traits but that was obviously superior in talent and skill at that point in his career: Brandon Roy.
Indeed, in his final season at Ohio State, Turner put up an impressive stat line of 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and six assists per game on 51.9 percent field goal shooting. His tantalizing talent led to the Philadelphia 76ers selecting him with the second overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft.
At the time, many wondered if he would be able to share the court with Andre Iguodala considering that both players needed the ball in their hands to be effective; but good players tend to figure things out and that’s what would have to happen.
But then the 2010-11 season happened, and Evan Turner played in 78 games and started 14 times. The future Brandon Roy relegated to the role of sixth man?
Not even, that would be Lou Williams.
Despite the publicity and the hype stemming from his collegiate career, the lottery pick was nothing more than a rotation player for the Sixers under Doug Collins.
This season, things were more or less the same as the former Buckeye essentially occupied the same role. However, many noticed that he had the ability even at the NBA level to be a good playmaker. Perhaps putting him at point guard in spots could prove beneficial, but not as a full-time gig mind you.
That became quite apparent last week when the Philadelphia 76ers opened the postseason on the road against the Chicago Bulls. With Doug Collins’ squad struggling to create high percentage shots against Tom Thibodeau’s suffocating defense, he sat down Jodie Meeks in the second half of Game 1, and rode Turner for 30 minutes — the former #2 pick averaged 26.4 minutes per game during the regular season — and watched him get 12 points, five assists and three steals on 4-for-9 field goal shooting in a double-digit loss.
After seeing what Donald Faison’s doppelganger was able to do against a tough Bulls defense, Collins switched things up and started Evan Turner in Game 2 and fed him 42 minutes of playing time.
The end result? A brilliant all around performance that served as a reminder to his college days.
Turner handled the ball, beat defenders off the dribble, got to the basket where he finished, took shots within the flow of the offense and never shied away no matter how tough and physical the defense was. The 76ers’ guard finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists on 8-for-15 field goal shooting.
If Philadelphia is going to upset Chicago, they are going to need for Turner to play three more games that mirror his performance in Game 2, which is no small feat. He certainly seems to be up to the task, however things might take a different turn if Chicago makes a few adjustments and defends him with the likes of Luol Deng and Ronnie Brewer.
Indeed, great players find a way to be spectacular in the playoffs despite the added intensity and the multiple defensive adjustments, while good players find ways to still play well. It would be a stretch at this point to state that Evan Turner is in either class after two games against the Bulls, but should he show up in Game 3 and do the exact same thing…
Well that would certainly create room for a debate now wouldn’t it?
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