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The Sixers entered the season as a team poised to build for the future. This strategy made the phrase “tanking” a favorite amongst Sixers fans and it brought about the idea of the more losses, the better.
This strategy has also led to the understanding that certain Sixers may be dealt in an effort to clear the way for more losses and to free up even more money to continue the Sixers’ overhaul. The name that seemed most destined to be leaving the Sixers at some point this season was Evan Turner.
It seemed fitting that it was time to part with Turner. His play has been lackluster since being taken with the 2nd overall pick in 2010. He had not materialized into the scorer that he was as the National Player of the Year at Ohio State and his attitude did not make up for his play on the court.
The Sixers sent the message loud and clear at the end of October when they allowed the deadline to extend player contracts to come and go without guaranteeing Turner a deal for next season. The writing appeared to be on the wall.
The Sixers have now painted themselves into a bit of a corner with Turner. Like the team’s surprising early win total, Turner’s play has snuck up on us and it creates an interesting dilemma. Should the Sixers trade Turner while his stock is high, or should the team hold onto Turner and reconsider his role as a franchise piece on this team?
Turner’s numbers early in the season are not making this decision an easy one. The Sixers’ leader is averaging a career-high in points with 23.0, which is 10 more than last season despite only averaging one more minute per game. Turner is also averaging 6.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.1 steals a night. He has also flourished in Brett Brown’s “pace and paint” system as he has taken the “paint” part to heart. Turner is getting to the line 5.6 times per game which is almost twice as much as he did last season. He is also shooting a career-high 86 percent from the line.
These numbers are making Turner the hot name on the rumor mill because there are a number of teams that could use a solid wing player with the ability to handle the ball, score and get his teammates involved.
The suitors will be there for Turner, but what if Philadelphia decides not to part with him just yet?
Aside from what you receive in return, the Sixers would increase their loss total by removing their most talented player, but they could also do that by parting with players like Thaddeus Young or Spencer Hawes. Keeping Turner could have it’s benefits.
Turner never really received the type of opportunities under Doug Collins that he is getting now. Brown has placed a lot of trust in Turner and has raved about that upside that his young leader has.
Players like Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala dominated the ball for much of Turner’s first three seasons. The player we are seeing now, is the closest thing we have seen to Ohio State Evan Turner. He is showing that he makes solid decisions with the ball, has an above average mid-range game and has some serious toughness around the rim.
All statistics aside, Turner is gaining leadership experience on this team. He is the unquestioned leader on the floor and the guy the players look to in key moments. Going forward, no matter how much talent you accumulate, you will need leaders to set the tone and help to build the culture. This season could be the start of that for Turner.
It should come as a surprise to no one if Turner winds up playing for another team before this season ends. However, the possibility of him playing in Philadelphia next season may not be as farfetched as it once seemed.