If there is one word to describe the career of Evan Turner in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform, it’s inconsistency. The Sixers invested the no. 2 overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft on the Ohio State product, and there hasn’t always been the most pleasant relationship between ET and the city of Philadelphia.
Turner only started 34 out of 143 games in his first two seasons in the NBA. Former head coach Doug Collins favored Jodie Meeks over Turner and the two often clashed, sometimes even publicly, over his role with the club. He finally started all 82 games last year and put up decent per game numbers: 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists. But, he also shot a career-low 42 percent from the floor.
The knock on Turner has always been inconsistency and inefficiency. Take a nine-game stretch from the end of March to mid April for example. In four of those games, Turner scored at least 14 points and shot over 50 percent from the field. In the other five, he average 8.2 points per game, including a zero-point 0-of-11 clunker, and shot 40 percent or worse in each.
Now entering the fourth year of his career, it’s now or never for Turner. Long gone are the excuses of being a young player and learning the pro level game. The team owns a $8.7 million qualifying offer for Turner for 2014 and as of right now, he hasn’t earned it.
He will never get a better opportunity to do so than this year. With the trade of Jrue Holiday Turner emerges as one of the only scorers remaining on this team. He will get ample opportunity to prove he is worth a long-term contract next year, even if it’s not with the Sixers. Turner will be looked upon to be the primary scorer and the leader of this young team, and I believe he is up for the challenge.
The key will be for him to be more aggressive and not settle for contested mid-range jump shots. Turner needs to get to the free-throw line in order to be successful, because he is not quick enough to create space off the dribble. The fourth year in the league can be looked at as a make-or-break year, and Turner is facing that in Philadelphia with a young rebuilding team.
Can he step it up, or will he continue to build his resume as first-round bust? We are only a few months away from finding out.