Feb 21, 2012; Memphis, TN, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Evan Turner (12) brings the ball up as guard Jrue Holiday (11) follows during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum. Memphis defeated Philadelphia 89-76. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE
In a week's time Evan Turner has gone from BUST to savior. He's morphed from an generally ineffective bench player to catalyst of the Sixers' offense. While it's unlikely Turner will continue to produce at this level, it's also highly unlikely he will ever return to the player he was a week ago.
It's hard to believe the people now swooning over Turner were the same people questioning his talent seven days ago. What's changed? Not his ability – that's remained the same – but rather, his role on the team. Unlike the first year and a half of his career, he's finally been put in a position to maximize his potential.
Ultimately, a player's success in the NBA is based on the role in which he plays. Evan Turner sucked as an eighth man, playing off the ball, but once Collins inserted him into the starting lineup, handed him the proverbial keys and lengthened his previously short leash, both he and the team enjoyed immediate success.
This idea isn't exclusive to Evan Turner. Andre Iguodala as the primary scoring option = bad; Andre Iguodala as defensive stopper, rebounder, transition scorer and point forward = great. Thaddeus Young as a three-point shooting small forward = bad; Thaddeus Young as the ultimate energy guy off the bench = good. Lou Williams as the starting point guard = bad; Lou Williams as instant offense off the bench = great. You get the point.
Which brings me to Jrue Holiday. Like Turner, he's shown flashes in the past, but as it stands, he's the odd man out in the Sixers offense. Turner, Iguodala and Louis Williams all handle the ball, limiting Jrue's opportunity to initiate the offense. And Lou, Thad and Turner all take scoring opportunities away from Jrue, so at this point he's basically a spot-up shooter, who occasionally takes his turn in iso-ball.
While Jrue has, without a doubt, regressed from an offensive standpoint this season, it probably has more to do with his role than diminishing ability. As you may remember, Jrue's draft stock took a huge hit for similar reasons. When Darren Collison decided to return to UCLA, Jrue was forced to play primarily off-the-ball – a role he's never been terribly successful in.
Much like it was with Turner, it's easy, and somewhat justified for Sixers fans to be worried about Jrue Holiday as a prospect. But if Evan Turner's emergence has taught us anything, success is only a role change away. Like Turner, the ability is there. We just have to hope the Sixers' brass will eventually figure out a way to maximize Jrue's potential, like they did with Evan.
It's still way too early to give up on the 21 year-old.