Jan 28 2014

Don’t Trade Evan Turner



While most of the buzz at Saturday night’s Sixers-Thunder game centered around Kevin Durant’s continued cold-blooded destruction of everything in his path–the Slim Reaper had a triple-double, well, because he does that now–there was also this:


The news that all apparel bearing the name of a marginally less successful former No. 2 overall pick was being offloaded at a steep discount triggered a frenzy of speculation on Twitter and the other corners of the Internet where folks gather to speculate. A trade, it seemed, was nigh.

This possibility–a Turner trade, tonight!–was welcomed by most Sixers fans. It shouldn’t have been. Let me clarify.

Courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr

Courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr

My sense is the consensus on The Evan Turner Situation reads something like this: Turner is a pretty good player who’s performing over his head in Sam Hinkie/Brett Brown’s system, and should be traded as soon as possible not only because his value is temporarily high at the moment (we’re in the midst of an Evan Turner bubble) but because he’s costing the Sixers losses and lottery standing by virtue of his pretty good play.

This is about half right. Turner’s trade value is likely near its peak, and he should be sold to the highest bidder. But he’s not, in any way, helping the team win basketball games.

Turner, beefed-up scoring totals aside, has been a walking, dribbling disaster in 2013-14–precisely the sort of player who can help the Sixers squeeze out a few additional losses between now and the league’s Feb. 20 trade deadline. Liberty Ballers’ Derek Bodner covered some of this in December, and the issues with Turner’s game he identified, inefficient scoring and porous defense, have since worsened. With January all but over, ET is posting career-worst marks in block percentage, turnover percentage, assist/turnover ratio, and total rebounding percentage. This is unsexy stuff, but it matters.

Cause for concern even resides in the area of his game where he’s made the biggest leap: scoring. While Turner has a career-best true shooting percentage of 51.7, this is still a few ticks below the 53.4 percent mark the average small forward posts. His 3-point shooting–an increasingly important aspect of the sport–is especially troubling. While Turner is shooting a career-high 2.5 triples a game, he’s hitting just 30.4 percent of them–good for 136th in the NBA and below his meager career-average of 32.1 percent. He’s a bad 3-point shooter who’s not necessarily trending in the right direction.

The advanced metrics pile on. According to wins produced, Turner has a wp48 of .028 this season–this is, somehow, worse than what he posted in his almost unimaginably awful 2012-13–while win shares puts him at .039. Both measures place Turner comfortably in the bottom half of the league and, again, are below his less-than-gaudy career norms. Meanwhile, the player who figures to see the biggest increase in minutes when Turner departs–rookie Hollis Thompson–leads the team in wins produced per minute and sits third in win shares.

These facts lend themselves to a very specific argument for what the Sixers should do with Turner. The team should take whatever value it can get for ET–a player like this, who’s due to get expensive very soon, is, technically speaking, less than worthless–but not quite yet.

The fans and commentators who are clamoring for Hinkie to move Turner immediately and begin tanking in earnest are missing something important: by hanging on to Turner for as long as possible, the Sixers are tanking. And, if possible, they should hang on for a few more weeks.

  • robbybonfire23

    Your premise is right on the money, Turner has regressed, markedly at the age of 25. Not good. However, there is another factor here, which few are considering. And that is that by NOT tanking, the team will probably not be getting a draft day shot at people like Alan Wiggins and Jarbari “God Forbid” Parker. Which is wonderful because there are some absolute gold (or at least silver) nuggets in this draft who will be slotted farther down the line, who appear deserving of higher draft status than Wiggins, Parker, and the over-rated Doug McDermott, who has tailed off measurably this season, from his production level of a year ago.

    I mean, Jabari Parker with his 34% conference shooting percentage, to date, to go with his mediocre rebounding totals, should not even be in the draft day conversation until he demonstrates NBA potential skill level and ramps up his overall game.

    Interestingly, Philadelphia Big Five teams have three players who can be considered at least decent NBA potential material – Steve Zack, Halil Kanacevik, and Dan Ochefu. Granted their competition is a bit soft in spots, but they are looking highly prolific in the critical areas of FG percentage and rebounding totals. Other potential blue chip draft day bargains include: Kyle Anderson, Aaron White, and prolific rebounding big man Richard Solomon of Cal, although his upside would figure higher were he not a senior.

    Two more who could prove to be draft day bargains are Texas sophomore-center Cameron Ridley, and another west coast senior who is a center and big rebounder, Jordan Bachynski of ASU.

    The real nightmare/bust I dread the most in this draft is Jabari Parker; with Joel Embiid projecting as the pick who could take his new NBA team to the heights, in short order, if he turns pro. Let’s hope the over-rated imposters are off the board by the time Philadelphia’s turn is called – meaning that there really is no need to tank, and much to gain by not tanking.

    • Tyler Yearley

      Alan wiggins??? And Jabari is the most NBA ready player in the draft. You make zero sense.

      • robbybonfire23

        Will the real Jabari Parker stand up? Yes, vs. non-conference opponents he is hitting 53 per cent of his shots from the floor (102-193). The problem is that Duke’s non-conference schedule included Fla Atlantic, UNC-Asheville, East Carolina, Vermont, Gardner-Webb, Elon, and Eastern Michigan.

        This is exactly why I focus on conference games, for drawing my conclusions. In eight conference games, to date, Parker is 36-105 from the floor = 34%; while averaging the middling number of 4 1/2 rebounds per game. The evidence indicates that this guy beats up on the nobodies, and becomes next to “invisible” when it’s time to step up vs. the big boys in the ACC. This does not augur well for Parker’s NBA prospects.

        As for Wiggins, he is coming around, lately, but still, the shooting percentage is just fair, and if he makes two assists in a game it’s a big story, given that he recorded ZERO assists in games vs. Duke, Villanova, Baylor, Florida, and Colorado.

        In the case of too many athletes there exists a wide gap between “athleticism” and extraordinary ability. So far, it appears, Wiggins is just average and Parker is a fraud. But stay tuned, they are young, they are developing, and they may yet come around. Except for Wiggins in the assist department. He is out there on the court for himself and his own glorification and screw team results and his teammates. You can have him.

  • JBShakes

    I’d composed the first 100 words of a million-word rebuttal to this in my head before I noticed the “Yet.”. Well played, sir. Well played.

    • tsunnergren

      Consider yourself pwned, duder.

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