It was June 27th, 2013.
The day of the NBA Draft was finally here, and everyone knew that a handful of trades were going to go down. A few minor pieces being shipped here and there, most likely. I mean, it’s not everyday you see one of the league’s top tier players dealt on draft day, right?
The Philadelphia 76ers shocked the basketball world on draft night when they dealt All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans in exchange for their first round pick in 2013, as well as a protected draft pick in 2014. It was a move that drastically altered fantasy hoops land, as certain players would see a decrease in fantasy value, while others would see a massive fantasy uptick.
The latter perfectly described Evan Turner.
Many people had Turner pegged as a major breakout candidate for the 2013 season. A former 2nd overall pick, Turner has always had the potential, but hasn’t quite fulfilled it just yet. However, Turner is a very versatile player, and perhaps the Sixers were fully aware of that when trading away Holiday. Turner is a guy who can play anywhere between the one and the three, with strong ball-handling and good court vision. The Sixers had big plans for Turner, and as a result, so did fantasy owners who selected him in drafts.
Through the first 10 games of the season, he surely hasn’t disappointed.
Right now, Turner is very quietly the number eight scorer in the NBA, averaging a healthy 23.4 points per game. We knew he could score when given the opportunity, but with Holiday logging almost 1,300 shots a season ago, his scoring upside was a bit capped. So far this season, Turner has posted just one game with fewer than 20 points (18), and has one game with over 30 points. He’s also adding 3.4 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game. Those numbers are good enough for Turner to rank as the number nine fantasy shooting guard on ESPN’s Player Rater. He’s also logging a very healthy 37.5 minutes per contest, which ranks seventh-most in the entire league. Volume is one of my favorite things in fantasy sports, and with a less than pedestrian bench, Turner will play all of the minutes he can handle this year.
Speaking of volume, with that comes great opportunity. No, that was not a quote from Spider Man. Turner is currently averaging 18.2 shot attempts per game, which is among the highest among anyone in basketball right now. Ahead of guys like Kevin Durant and James Harden, for instance. He is trying to get the best possible scoring chance he can, which is why he is currently averaging 23 points per contest. Turner is averaging 7.2 drives per game, resulting in 85 points off said drives. That’s more than anyone else in basketball right now. He is also sporting a field goal percentage of 67.4 percent on drives this season. As a result of his aggressive offensive mindset, Turner is averaging six free throw visits per game. Not an easier shot in basketball than one from the strike. Of course, his latest offensive workload has been as a result of point guard Michael Carter-Williams (foot) being sidelined for the last two games, but Turner has been a focal point of this offense even with MCW in the lineup.
Carter-Williams is a pass-first player, averaging 64.4 passes per game. He’s also had 17.8 points created by one of his assists per game this season, so Turner is getting the majority of scoring opportunities regardless. If anything, Williams’ presence should help Turner. He’s a strong playmaker, elite defender who can force many turnovers and can grab rebounds with his size and length to extend possessions. Turner will be the main source of scoring for this depleted Sixers roster for the entire 2013 season, while everyone else plays a role as well.
I’m not saying he will be up in the top-10 in scoring all season long. However, 20 points per game is easily doable, in route to a career-best season.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.