When the word broke earlier this week that the Celtics had signed Evan Turner, C’s fans raised a collective eyebrow before filing the news away in a pile of underwhelming offseason moves the team has made.
Turner isn’t the impact signing fans had hoped for when team owner Wyc Grousbeck promised “fireworks”. He’s not going to turn the franchise around, nor will he assuage a fan base increasingly resigned to a future without Kevin Love. There are a lot of things Evan Turner isn’t, but there are five things he is (along with a myth about Turner) below.
— TRUTH: He’s a former No. 2 overall pick
The Philadelphia 76ers selected Turner with the No. 2 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, behind budding star John Wall and ahead of guys who have since outplayed him, including Paul George, Greg Monroe, and Eric Bledsoe. It follows directly, then, that Turner has been a massive disappointment at that draft position. The Sixers, who have made it a habit of acquiring young talent, shipped Turner to Indiana for Danny Granger, a player who’s never been the same since suffering a knee injury two seasons ago. No matter what you think of Turner, it’s possible not to look at him through the lens of being a former No. 2 overall pick who hasn’t lived up to his billing. It also means, of course, that the Celtics could be getting a deal on a guy who should play better.
— TRUTH: He’s inefficient
Turner’s traditional numbers are impressive enough for a typical NBA starter. He averaged 16.6 points in 81 games last season, numbers that would have been higher had he not been stuck on the bench in Indiana (21.1 minutes per game). Turner’s 3.8 assists per game and 6.1 rebounds are also nothing to sniff at.
Where Turner struggles is getting the ball in the basket efficiently without having the ball in his hands. Deadspin described him as a “ball-pounding avatar of hopelessness. For his career, Turner has averaged 19.9 points per 100 possessions. For comparison, Jeff Green, who every Celtics fan loves to hate, has averaged 22.3 points per 100 possessions. The career usage rates of the two players is about the same, so Turner is doing less with the same amount of touches. Turner’s career shooting percentage of .427 — it dropped to .411 with the Pacers last year — leaves much to be desired, especially for a guy who’s not a perimeter threat.
— TRUTH: He’s primarily a small forward
Indiana used Turner primarily at shooting guard last season, but you saw how well that worked out. For his career Turner has played 76 percent of the time at small forward, according to basketball reference. At 6-feet-7-inches, 205 pounds, he lacks the muscle of more traditional players at that position.
— TRUTH: He makes the roster kind of a mess
Colleague Brian Robb broke down the roster crunch the other day, but it’s worth reexamining here since it’s the No. 1 reason people were shaking their heads at the Turner signing. The Celtics have a lot of guys at the shooting guard and small forward positions who aren’t particularly great shooters. Sticking Turner in at the small forward, he’ll be competing for rotation time with Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, and James Young. Green and Wallace figure to play big minutes, and you want to give the rookie some playing time, so where does that leave Turner? A move or two has to be in the works, right?
— TRUTH: He’s probably not worth $10 million
Like a good agent should, Falk’s agent David Falk tells the Boston Herald he thinks his client could have gotten $10 million annually had he not been traded to Indiana last season. That’s nonsense, of course, because the Sixers wouldn’t have cut ties with Turner if they believed in him as much as his agent does. Turner isn’t worth $10 million now, but would it surprise me if he became a player who was worth $10 million in a year or two? Absolutely not.
— LIE: He killed the Pacers last year
Evan Turner didn’t kill the Pacers last season. The Pacers did it to themselves after starting the season 33-7 and going 23-19 the rest of the way. Much of their poor play occurred before Turner arrived, attributable to the brutal play of center Roy Hibbert, a plodding style, and the failure of Paul George to make the leap everyone assumed had already happened.
A fistfight between Turner and volatile teammate Lance Stephenson was taken by some as a sign that Turner was trouble, but teams get tense all the time, and Turner doesn’t have a reputation for poor behavior elsewhere. The video below of Turner’s Ferrari running out of gas on the highway just about the only signs of off-court trouble we’ve seen from Turner in four seasons.
(apparently he did it twice)
h/t Jay King from MassLive.com