This is infuriating. Against the defending champions, Doug Collins opted to keep rookie guard Evan Turner on his bench for 48 minutes. The second overall pick in the 2010 draft and most recent recipient of the NCAA Player of the Year award at Ohio State played as many minutes last night as I did. In eight games in December, Turner has gotten more than 20 minutes of PT just once, and under 10 three times.
How much of this is on Turner and how much is on Collins? Marreese Speights had a few times during his career where he'd be benched because he wasn't playing defense or wasn't rebounding. How have those disciplinary benchings worked out for Mo?
Evan Turner has not looked awful this season. He's looked like a rookie, and one who has a history of slow starts at new levels. Normally, rookies get to play through their mistakes so that you can see how they're getting better and what facets of their game they still need to work on. Unfortunately, Turner hasn't gotten that opportunity because Collins has wrongly given his minutes to Louis Williams, Andres Nocioni, Jason Kapono and Andre Iguodala, who is currently playing an inexplicable 40 minutes a night with a nagging Achilles. Jodie Meeks deserves his minutes, but when veterans with no place on this team steal minutes from the 2nd overall pick and one of the future cornerstones of this franchise, there's something wrong.
Even if Iguodala doesn't get traded, Turner needs 20 minutes a night, minimum. Yes, he's played on the ball for the majority of his basketball life, but he's talented enough to learn how to play with Jrue Holiday running the offense. He's also taken far too many jump shots, only 20% of his attempts in close range. That'll improve with Collins giving him the go-ahead to take the ball to the basket, rather than having him watch from the bench as impending trade piece Lou Williams dribbles out the shot clock and jacks up a fadeaway three.
If Turner was a punk who showed up late to practice and threw his teammates under the bus, he'd still require significant playing time because of how could he can be. But from all I've heard, he's a great teammate who hasn't said a bad thing about the coaching staff or playing in Philadelphia or anybody's momma. That Doug Collins is pushing back his development for a few meaningless wins in a season where we will not win a championship is horribly disconcerting.
It's Turner's job to make himself a better basketball player, but it's Collins' job to put him in the position to do so. Sitting him on the bench against the Lakers is failing to do that job.