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:
— Chris Powl (@CPowl14) January 25, 2014
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.
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.