The dust has settled and everyone has collectively pinched themselves after learning the Sixers will draft second in next month's draft. The discussions have quickly turned to Evan Turner and whether or not he's can co-exist with Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala. While Turner might not be a perfect fit for the Sixers, here's five reasons why the Sixers should draft him - after the jump.
1. Go-to scorer potential
We've talked ad nauseam about how Andre Iguodala isn't a go-to scorer, and how desperately the Sixers need one. Now they have a chance to draft Evan Turner with the second pick, who can - and probably will - be that guy.
Turner has almost everything you want in a go-to scorer. He can create his own shot, create for teammates, and score in a variety of ways. His moves are fluid and he has impressive balance and basketball IQ, especially for a kid coming out of college. And we all know he's got ice in his veins.
The biggest knock on Turner is his lack of legitimate three-point range. Unlike Iguodala, Turner has solid mechanics on his jumper and a good mid-range game, which leads me to believe he'll develop at least an average three-point shot at the next level.
Another knock on Turner is his athleticism - he's not the most explosive athlete. Would it be nice if Turner leap tall buildings in a single bound? Absolutely, but he isn't a stiff either. He has quickness, average bounce, and crafty hesitation/spin/crossover moves. The Villain should have little problem getting his shot off at the next level. He might not have the athleticism, but his size, body control, and overall basketball skills more than make up for it.
The Sixers haven't ranked in the top 20 in attendance since the 04-05 season. Last year they ranked near dead-last - barely ahead of the Nets - in percentage of seats filled. Also, despite having a young, athletic team who made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons the Sixers were awarded only seven nationally televised games last season (in hindsight, good call).
Drafting Evan Turner would have an immediate impact on the Sixers, not only on the court, but off the court. He would become the face of the franchise and give the team national relevance again. The casual fan digs players like Turner. He has an aesthetically-pleasing jumper. He was the 2010 National Player of the Year. He has a nasty game-winner under his belt.. And he has the coolest nickname (The Villain) in this year's draft.
When the Sixers drafted Iverson, they went from second-to-last in attendance to 22nd, despite winning only 22 games. I'd expect Turner to have a similar effect - not because he's Iverson - but because he has perennial all-star potential, scores the basketball, and makes the team much better.
3. "Defense wins championships"
Here are the defensive efficiency rankings of the last 10 NBA champions: 6th, 7th, 21st, 1st, 5th, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 3rd, and 9tt. Nine of the past 10 champions have ranked in the top nine, so it's safe to say the old cliche proves true, time and again.
Turner might not have the most defensive potential (Favors) in this draft, but he's polished and NBA-ready. He's 6'7'', can guard multiple positions, and likes to play defense - which I think is important. His high basketball IQ works in his favor, showing awareness and good fundamentals on the defensive end.
Long-term, drafting Turner and pairing him with Jrue would give the Sixers the potential to have one of the best defensive backcourts in the NBA. Short-term, a starting lineup of Jrue, Turner, Iguodala, Brand and Dalembert has top 10 defensive potential, effective immediately.
4. Best player available
Is Turner the perfect fit next to Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala, no. None of them are proven three-point shooters - although Jrue shot 39% from his rookie season - which makes for less-than-ideal floor spacing. Sixers fans have witnessed over the past couple years, starting three players at the 1-2-3 who don't spread the defense can make for some ugly and ineffective half-court offense. The better fit on the wing is Wes Johnson, who wouldn't take the ball out of Jrue and Iguodala's hands as much, and stretch the defense with his range.
But here's why you don't worry about fit. 1) Turner is the best player available. 2) Turner has all star-potential.
The Sixers have numerous needs, so the best thing for them to do is draft the best player available - which is Turner. Since the Sixers won't be championship contenders any time soon, they have the luxury of stockpiling talent, experimenting with "fit", and adjusting their roster accordingly.
Note: Don't be surprised if the Holiday-Turner-Iguodala experiment turns out to be a success. Turner's ability to create for teammates could be the best thing that ever happened to Holiday and Iguodala. Iguodala shot 39.4% in catch-and-shoot situations last year - in the 74th percentile, and Holiday shot 45.8% - in the 94th percentile.
Turner can play three different positions, point guard, shooting guard, and small forward. In drafting him, the Sixers open up a world of possibilities. They can go uber-big and play Turner at the point. They could go small and play Turner at small forward. Or they could go conventional and play Turner at the two. As we witness in the playoffs, year after year, series often boil down to which team can create the most mismatches, and Turner is a mismatch waiting to happen.
*The only question I want answered before the Sixers draft Turner is whether his back will become a problem later in his career.
Next up: The Case for Derrick Favors