A Case Against Evan Turner in the Starting Lineup

A few days ago Michael posted about Meeks starting over Turner, which sparked a pretty lively discussion in the comments. Now I'm probably one of ET's biggest supporters and I'd love to see him succeed as an NBA starter, but it's in the team's best interest to leave Turner on the bench and Meeks in the starting lineup.

This is not an indictment on Turner, nor an endorsement for Meeks, but rather an analysis of the unit as a whole. Using our resources over at Basketball Value, we see that eight five-man units have played 10 or more minutes for the Sixers this season. The only lineup with a net negative – Holiday, Turner, Iguodala, Brand and Hawes – is the starting lineup the Sixers would trot out if Turner replaced Meeks. That lineup has played 12 minutes and been outscored 21-14. The sample size is extremely small, which is why I went back to last season for further evidence.

The lineup of Holiday-Turner-Iguodala-Brand-Hawes played 111 combined minutes last season. They were outscored 211-235. Of the 10 most-used lineups during last year's regular season, this lineup was the second worst in terms of production – the only lineup that was less effective involved Andres Nocioni.

For whatever reason, replacing Meeks with Turner in the starting lineup– all else equal – has proven to be an ineffective strategy over the past two seasons. Turner's clearly the better player, better prospect and a more important part of the franchise's future, but like Michael said, as long as he's playing enough minutes, developing properly and finishing games everyone should be fine with Turner coming off the bench. He, along with the Boss and Thad are one of the most prolific pine-riding threesomes in the NBA.

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