Next up on our list of prospects to profile -- the consensus number two -- Evan Turner. You might know him for this, but the man they call "The Villian" has much more to offer than just half-court buzzer-beaters.
Number two, Evan Turner:
The class of this roster in terms of pure talent, Evan Turner started off the tryouts slowly-looking to show off his playmaking skills primarily-but eventually settled down and put his versatile all-around game on full display. Turner was clearly the best ball-handler and shot-creator on the roster, getting extremely low with the ball and weaving in and out of traffic impressively with his excellent footwork and spin moves, often to finish with a pretty floater. He has a tendency to over-dribble at times and make some careless mistakes, but it's tough to argue with he brings to the table as a shot-creator. His perimeter shooting was hit or miss, especially from beyond the 3-point line, but he did show a very nice ability to pull-up off the dribble and make shots from mid-range. It was very informative to see Turner outside the confines of Ohio State's zone, as he was really able to show his potential as a big-time defender here, switching out onto guards and using his excellent size and length to keep his man in front of him and contest everything.
Turner has declared for the April 7th draft. The best college player in the country this season, Turner is the most complete player the draft has seen in a long time. He can score, crash the boards and run the point. While his jumper is only so-so, Turner appears to be a lock for the No. 2 pick in the draft. And, if the lottery combinations fall the right way and the Jazz, Bulls or Hornets draft first, he could pass John Wall as the No. 1 pick.
With the good comes the bad. Again, Andre Iguodala part 2.
He's been pretty turnover-prone this season, in part because he's asked to do too much. He's not a great shooter, especially from distance. His broken back earlier this season hasn't caused many problems since his return, but scouts are a bit wary of it.
Investing a top 2 pick, millions of dollars, and the fate of your franchise in a guy who recently broke his back does frighten me a bit, to say the least.
"Knees are always the biggest concerns," one GM told ESPN.com. "But backs are a close second. They're tricky. The game is hard on backs and some guys, no matter how many surgeries they get, just never get totally better. It's a pretty big red flag."
However; I do like toughness, and coming back four weeks early from a broken back is considered pretty tough.
When Turner went down with two fractured vertebrae in mid-December, the talk was that he'd miss a couple of months before returning to Buckeyes. Four weeks later Turner was back on the court, claiming to be about 70 percent. His first outing against Indiana was so-so. He got into foul trouble, played about 20 minutes and ended with 8 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists -- not bad for a guy coming back four weeks early from a broken back. But it was in his second game back, against Minnesota, where Turner really showed he was back to his old self. That stat line was typical Turner -- 19 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, 4 turnovers. But the numbers don't tell the whole story. Turner was moving well, diving on the floor for loose balls and taking over in the second half. Yes, he still looks a little stiff and not quite as explosive as he did before the injury -- but we're quibbling.
Almost a complete offensive player, without long-range shooting ...
Turner has excellent skill level, with advanced moves (spin dribble, change of gears, hesitation moves, etc). He is excellent at getting to the basket, and he's strong enough to absorb contact and finish. That ability to get to the rim means that he draws a fair number of fouls, getting to the line about six times a game; and he is a good free throw shooter at 73% ... (although he was better last year at 79%)
Turner is a solid shooter, with good form and a high release; especially good at pulling up from 15-17 feet. Superb coming off screens, where his driving ability, coupled with his deadly mid-range shot and his passing ability makes him particularly dangerous. Although Ohio State doesn't run it enough, I can see him being a big threat in the NBA with the pick-and-roll. He's not much of a three-point threat (28%), but fortunately, he seems to understand his limitations and shoots very few long shots.
... And a stud on defense.
Often times, when there's a lot of good things to say about a player's offensive talents, things start sounding a bit different when you get around to talking about their defense. That's not the case with Turner. He's an excellent one-on-one and help defender; physical and in-your-face. He seems to jack it up a notch late in games when his team needs a critical stop. He's long, and strong, but he's also quick, so he can defend multiple positions. Those qualities also help him when he gets switched off to a smaller or bigger opponent. Turner contests every shot, getting about a block a game, but he causes many more misses. Finally, he plays hard on both ends of the court, not taking any time off on defense to save energy for the offensive end.
Evan Turner on Twitter:
DX - Best case: Brandon Roy
Worst case: Anthony Parker in prime
NBADraft.net - Brandon Roy
In the first prospect profile I mentioned how adding Wall would make the Sixers one of the dirtiest defensive teams in the league. Well, adding Turner would make them even nastier, if you can believe that. The length of the Sixers starting lineup would absolutely blow Jay Bilas' mind. Holiday at 6'4'', Turner at 6'7'' and Iguodala at 6'7'' would give perimeter players nightmares when they played the Sixers. "The Villian" also happens to be the go-to scorer the Sixers have desperately needed since Iverson's prime. Do I find it troubling that he "over-dribbles", turns the ball over too much, and can't shoot very well? Definitely, but you're not going to find a better player at number two than Evan Turner. He's either Brandon Roy with a worse shot, and better defense. Or Andre Iguodala with a more well-rounded offensive game.
Next up: Derrick Favors