In a year where the Sixers get a player to build around, have their franchise point guard on the precipice of a longterm extension, and bring in at least 8 new players, we start our player previews with a guy that meets none of those descriptions. He also happens to be the most important player to the Sixers success over the next few years despite being undeniably disappointing in his first two seasons in the league.
While Bynum is clearly the team's best player and they'd be nowhere without him, it's Turner that will make the difference between the Sixers nipping at the Miami Heat for half a decade and taking up the First Round Exit mantle left by the Atlanta Hawks. I'm not worried about Jrue or Bynum. They'll get where they have to be. Turner could become the real gamechanger for this franchise.
The player he is now is nowhere near the player he can be. We've seen that guy in glimpses a few times but never enough to make anyone really confident that Evan will get over the hump in season three or ever. But he's got to.
Andre Iguodala is gone. There are absolutely no more excuses left to use. He has to become more efficient scoring the basketball. Plain and simple. That begins and ends with a jump shot.
Per Hoopdata, Evan improved his year-to-year percentages at every distance on the court except from outside the three-point line. He also had a lower free throw rate last year than in his rookie season. He will not be successful unless he either becomes an average three-point shooter over the offseason or gets to the foul line. The latter is much more likely.
The system Doug Collins ran last year was tailored to the strengths, or rather the weaknesses, of his team. They didn't have the personnel to attack the rim, so the offense settled for long two's -- commonly recognized as the worst shot in basketball. They no longer have that offense because they did two things in the offseason that will help -- added Bynum and added shooters.
If Doug can loosen Evan's collar and let him attack the basket like he did in that magical four game stretch last season, there's no doubt he'll get to the free throw line more. And if he shoots just a little bit better from beyond the arc (odds are it'll normalize a bit), we could be talking about a true shooting percentage in the area of 53% -- and that's something we could really work with.
So much of Evan's game is predicated upon confidence. Basketball in general is all confidence, especially from a shooter's perspective. If he's not feeling his shot, it's a trickle down effect everywhere in his game. We know he's dealt with confidence issues in the past but he's got to be feeling good about a coach-guaranteed starting position and the front office moving an Olympian out of his way. More than anybody else, Evan needs to start off strong.
Because as much crap as Evan gets for his admittedly terrible shooting thus far in his career, he still doesn't get the credit he deserves for his defensive rebounding. I'll put it in caps so everyone can see. EVAN TURNER HAD THE BEST DEFENSIVE REBOUNDING SEASON FOR A WING PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF THE LEAGUE. That is some elite, next level stuff right there. Not just good -- historically unrivaled. His DREB% will dip this season just because Bynum's hogging all the Ann, but between the two of them, it's highly unlikely that the opposition will be getting many second chances on the glass this season. That's huge for a defense that's going to miss Iguodala and Elton Brand.
People will say he can't play with Jrue Holiday. And before, they were right. But when you throw a player of Andrew Bynum's character in the middle, it gets awfully easy to play with anybody. Put a few other shooters on the court, and you've got a really nice blend of talent and abilities that will make things quite difficult for the Eastern Conference.
The best thing we can hope for is 10 minutes at the point guard position and 25 minutes off the ball next to Jrue. He'll have the opportunity to create for himself as well as time to distribute and become a slasher when Bynum gets doubled. All we need from him is a hair more success shooting the basketball and we're scary good.
Evan's not athletic enough to become Iguodala on defense. He doesn't have to be with Andy B behind him. It's a different team. He just has to learn how to find his within the flow of the offense. He won't have to do it all himself. For his third season, I'm confident he'll put it all (or most) together.
Worst Case Scenario: .475 TS%, .440 eFG%, 11 points, 6 rebounds, 2.5 assists. Doesn't develop an outside shot, can't capitalize on his man doubling down on Bynum, gets benched by the All-Star Break and they don't pick up the team option for next year.
Best Case Scenario: .540 TS%, .500 eFG%, 17 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists. Becomes reasonably effective from beyond the arc, gets to the foul line a ton while keeping his usage rate low, executes a ton of drive-and-kicks as floor general of the second unit, voted into the All-Star Game, Sixers talking extension for him next offseason.
Reasonable: .510 TS%, .465 eFG%, 14 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4 assists. Still doesn't have an outside shot for his life but he manages to get to the line 4-5 times per game so his numbers stay up enough to keep us statnerds happy. The offense still kind of slows down when he decides to take it himself but he's decent enough at finishing that it doesn't cripple the team. He cements his status as solid 3rd or 4th option on a pretty good club.
We know Jordan is optimistic. It seems like I've caught the bug as well. If Evan continues to stay as aggressive as he was in the playoffs, it'll pay off for him. I really just can't overstate the importance of Andrew Bynum. He will make things SO MUCH easier for everybody else on the court. Now combine that with more depth and shooting at every position. I'm drooling.
We've got ourselves a team here, and I'm fully expecting ET to show us he's one of the cornerstones.