I liked watching Evan Turner play at Ohio State. Or at least I’m pretty sure I did. Those days feel like a long time ago, though it’s been only four years since he was the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft.
I know this for sure: I can’t recall having enjoyed watching him play since, and I sure as hell am not finding any satisfaction during the early weeks of his turn with the Celtics.
The aggravating flaws in Turner’s game that the Minnesotas and Northwesterns didn’t have the talent or skill to expose are on frequent display in the unforgiving NBA. And there are many.
He overdribbles like he learned the game from And1 instructional tapes of The Professor. He calls for the ball constantly, and when he doesn’t get it, he stands in the same spot and call for it some more.
Again: He demands the ball from Rajon Rondo, who only has a better sense with what to do with the basketball in a given situation than 99 percent of the league.
The only time Turner should be trying to take the ball out of Rondo’s hands is when the latter is at the foul line in a late-and-close situation. Which is sort what happened Wednesday night, actually.
Because of his indifference on defense, Turner was a bust for Mr. Legend’s dysfunctional Pacers last year, which is an offense to Celtics fans who slot Indiana as No. 2 among their NBA rooting interests.
It doesn’t help the perception that he was at his best against the Celtics, beating them with a couple of buzzer-beaters through the years:
But this clip sums up the entire Turner experience: an impressive uncontested dunk that does nothing but aggravate the other guys on the court.
Even Nick Young thinks he’s a knucklehead. When you’ve done something so ridiculous that you’ve lost Swaggy P, you know you’ve done wrong.
The ET medallion is pretty cool, though.
If Jeff Green had Turner’s hubris, his irrational confidence, he’d be the superstar he looks like he should be once every five games. But he doesn’t, and that’s part of what makes Green understandable and Turner so maddening to me. The latter has talent, but not as much as he believes. And what he does have, he doesn’t use to the maximum.
I’ll accept Green’s brand of laconic inconsistency over Turner’s counterproductive overconfidence every time. As it stands right now, 16 games into Turner’s tenure, I find him the most frustrating talented player since … well, here’s how I phrased it in a recent tweet that is the impetus for this post:
Evan Turner might be my least-favorite talented Celtics player since … I don’t know, actually. Mark Blount?
— Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) December 3, 2014
Now, of course, the caveat there is talented. If we interpret that to mean an above-average NBA player, it eliminates underachieving end-of-the-bench fodder such as Patrick O’Bryant from the discussion. It also pardons the adequate likes of Mike James, who played 595 NBA games and, as far as I can tell, never passed once on a 2-on-1 break.
After further review, there is only one player since Mark Blount got his fat contract and decided to retire from ever pursuing a rebound again who drove me as nuts as he did then, or Turner does now.
Some of you suggested Ricky Davis or Rasheed Wallace, or maybe Antoine Walker. I liked all of them, actually, which I suppose justifies calling my opinion on Turner or anyone else into question. I’m a sucker for originality and just a small dose of crazy in a player, even if it’s detrimental to the team at times.
Semi-related to that, I’ll defend Rajon Rondo until the day he is traded and beyond. He is a flawed basketball genius, and I’ve never seen anything like him.
So in the near-decade bridging Blount to Turner, it’s a Loathing List of just one.
Jermaine O’Neal, anyone?
He played 49 games in two seasons, checked out on the team the second year, shot 44.7 percent on 2-point attempts, thought he should have had more plays run for him, and then had something of a rejuvenation with the Warriors after leaving.
Among players with actual ability, I’d rather have Evan Turner than the lesser O’Neal. At least Turner shows up, and that’s the brunt of the praise I’ve got for him right now. I doubt the next 66 games will change that.