To say that Evan Turner has struggled since being selected by the Sixers second overall is an understatement. He was man-handled in the Summer League and pre-season, igniting the early bust talk, which is fueled more and more each game.
At 22 years old and three years of Big Ten basketball under his belt, the reigning national player of the year was supposed to be one of the most polished prospects in last year's lottery, but he's been far from it halfway through his rookie season.
Despite the bust talk, and Turner's struggles, I'm here to tell you that things aren't as bad as they appear.
Perhaps you've heard the phrase "defense wins championships" a time or two. Despite the sexiness of offense, defense is as – if not more – important when it comes to winning basketball games. But because scoring the basketball is more glamourous than than preventing your opponent from scoring, players are often, and unfairly judged based on the amount of points they score per game.
Case in point, Evan Turner. He's been beyond terrible offensively, but defended adequately and rebounded exceptionally. According to Basketball Reference he ranks 1st among all rookie guards in defensive win shares, and 2nd in total rebounding percentage, 7th in defensive win shares among all first and second year guards, and 3rd in total rebounding. Taking it one step further, he ranks 11th in defensive win shares among all first, second and third year guards, and 3rd in total rebounding percentage. Long story short, he's rebounded and defended very well.
Although Turner has struggled in only one of the two aspects of basketball, the bust talk couldn't be louder. And you're kidding yourself if you believe people would be claiming bust if things were flipped. If Turner was the worst defensive player in the history of the league, and scored 20 points per game he'd be neck-in-neck with Griffin and Wall in the rookie of the year race.
Don't get me wrong; Turner's still been incredibly disappointing. The primary reason he was drafted was because he supposedly capable of being a team's primary scorer – something the Sixers desperately needed. They didn't draft him in hopes that he'd be a poor man's Iguodala. If that were the case they would've taken Favors or Cousins, without hesitation.
Describe him as disappointing, describe him as ill-fitting, but describing him as a bust is extreme. He's been a complete no-show on offense, minus a game or two, but he's found other ways to contribute. And the offensive talent is there. If, and when he finds his it, he'll suddenly become a complete player, and the the bust talk will vanish into oblivion.
Step away from the ledge, Sixers fans.