Evan Turner Perspectives vol 2: The State of his Game

The second installment in our month-long feature, GrowthPlates will continue the daunting task of shedding some light on the Gordian Knot of the 76ers, the positionless enigma that is Evan Turner.

gordian knot 2

In our first installment in this series I offered that Evan Turner has been the most over-analyzed fringe player in the history of the NBA. But after the best month of basketball in Turners young career, I feel compelled to promote him to the most over-analyzed mediocre player in the history of the league.

evan turner crazy

evan-turner crazy 2

Cogratulations Evan, you’ve earned it.

But with Turner unquestionable reaching a new level, it’s time we venture through the Looking Glass; into the mind bending, going-back-in-time-and-killing-your-grandfather paradoxes of Evan Turner’s game. Where everything is true and untrue, the sacred and profane or joined, and where clear conclusions are little more than a basketball Rorschach.


PARADOX #1: Evan Turner rebounds like a center, but is not a substitute for a rebounding center

Last year, Evan Turner pulled down 22.8% of all the defensive boards available while he was on the court. The greatest rate for a gaurd in the HISTORY OF THE NBA. For perspective that is just better than the numbers posted by noted rebounders Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, and Tyson Chandler, and was just behind DeAndre Jordan and Marc Gasol.

You might look at that list and say “Hey, he rebounds like a center!” but let’s not forget that he is 6’7, 220 pounds and definitely not a center. The typical Turner rebound involves his crashing in from the perimeter and vacuuming up all the long rebounds. That is definitely helpful.

turner composition

But he is not big enough to box out opposing bigmen and hasn’t prevented the routine switch beatings the Sixers  recieve on the offensive glass. He’s basically grabbing all the guard rebounds, because he’s the greatest guard rebounder ever. But that is only worth so much.

PARADOX #2: Evan Turner has elite handle for a 6’7 player, but lacks the athleticism to due that much with it.

He’s kind of like the NBA version of the slick-dribbling fat kid on the playground. He’s got the crossover, but at the end of day he can’t exploit it becuase he is still a slow fat guy.

Speaking of lack of athleticism, here some strong evidence in support of Evan Turner not dunking…

triangle paradox

PARADOX #3: Evan Turner is the best bad shooter in the Association.

Let’s start with 3 point shooting. After coming in the league with a broken, idiosyncratic, hand on top jumper, Evan has spent the past 2 years working with Philadelphia jumpshot guru Herb Magee to build the muscle memory for a new shooting form. Not an easy thing to do after using the same kooky shot for 16 years.

Turner jumper

Here is the broken shot


But credit due to Evan, as he has now developed a mechanically functional, if inenelegant, jumper. After sticking with it through a painful rebuilding process, in his 3 season Evan is shooting a ridiculous 46% from 3 point range. good for the 7th in the entire NBA. The flipside of the coin (there always is one with Evan) Is inspite of that lofty percentage, he’s taken the 5th fewest attempts of the 139 qualified shooters.

What’s this mean? Evan learned he can hit the wide open corner three and the occasional wide open wing three. And that’s all he’s shooting. Good for only 0.8 made three pointers a game…

On to 2 point shooting: Turner’s offensive game is rooted in long 2 point shots, the least efficient shot in basketball.

more than half of Turner’s shots are 2’s more than 10 feet from the basket, 6.8 per game. He’ shooting a decent 43.8% from 10 to 15 feet, and a tepid 36% from 16 to 23 feet. Percentages just good enough to make these shots not a horrible idea (especially alte in the shot clock), but definitely not a good one either.

All told he’s posted a true percentage of 51%. Slightly below average for his position and about as good as Andre Igoudala, Courtney Lee, Tayshaun Prince, and a bunch of players you’ve never heard of.




PARADOX #4: Evan Turner is simultaneously a very good and very bad defender

Defense in the NBA is largely rooted in effort and intensity, and this is where Evan’s patholigical competitiveness is most evident. Turner has postesd strong on-ball defense numbers, generally doing well when he has a size advantage, and suprisingly well against point guards.

Against bigger opponents, not so much. Small Forwards (the position he ostensibly plays) have murdered him. Case in point, the game against the T-Wolves where Josh Howard’s corpse blistered Turner  all game.

And the real bugaboo… Help Defense. Turner proclivity for soft double teams, and floating in the passing lanes rarely pays dividends. He is too slow to get back to his man once the pass is made. Too often he ends up ball watching from the best seat in the house.

Some more from the T-Wolves game.

Conclusion: Like the spectators below, I have no idea waht to make of this…

evan turner levitation

There’s never been a player quite like him, and I suspecte he will elicit wildly divergent opinions his whole career. And while an exact comparable will remain elusive, with his improving jumper, Turner is starting to recall another fericiously competitve, slow developing, highly drafted big gaurd who played for the Sixers…

Doug Collins box score

Collins Turner teaching

But we’ll save that for installment #3….




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