Petting Ben Gordon's face. - Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
By now, it has been pretty well reported that the Sixers have been gauging the trade value for Evan Turner. It's likely that they're doing exactly just that, gauging value, rather than actively looking to trade him. But when asked about the Turner trade rumor brought to light by ESPN's Marc Stein, GM Tony DiLeo had this to say: "I don't comment on any trade rumors. We talk to every team in the league and we'll do something if it helps improve our team. I have no comment on any trade rumors." It seems like a pretty run of the mill statement, but rather than putting the rumors down swiftly, DiLeo left things open for interpretation. And with the way the Sixers handled the Andre Iguodala situation, I kind of like what the new Sixers management has done in regards to possible trades.
They send out feelers about their own players, and keep the door open to all possible options, just like they did with Iguodala, and exactly what they're doing with Turner now. There's not necessarily as much of an urgency to trade Turner as there was Iguodala, but it's a move that might make sense. It hasn't been the best of season's for Turner, who is in his third season in the league. He's averaging a career high 13.7 points and 5.5 FG a game, although those are due to the fact that Turner has secured a full time starting role in the lineup this year. It's no secret Turner's a solid player and will continue to be one throughout his NBA career, however long that may be. But his presence on the team as a guard has been a hindrance to the success of the Sixers.
It has become painfully obvious that Turner does not fit into the Sixers offense in his current position, as they frequently force themselves to give him offensive opportunities. Typically, most of those opportunities have to do with him having the ball in his hands. Yet the Ohio State product is rather susceptible to turnovers; his TOV%, or his turnover percentage per 100 plays, is a whooping 14.6%. Coming into the league, Turner was always deemed as a guy who needed the ball in his hands to be effective, and while watching him play in the NCAA, that notion seemed to be correct. But as I've watched him develop in the NBA, I realized the hybrid point guard role is not really one that suits him. As a guard, you need to not only be able to be able to knock down a consistent jump shot, but dish the ball as well. Turner does neither of those things particularly well, and it sets the team back.
It's not his fault he's been labeled as a ball handler, because that's the role he played in college. The issue is that the Sixers evaluated him to play the same role in the pros, and not that of a forward, which he's much better suited at. At 6'7, 205 lbs., Turner isn't big by NBA standards, but he's one of the strongest guys in the league. His ability and want to get in the paint to bang for rebounds proves that. His most effective role in the NBA would be as a forward, which would allow him to post up to the basket. Feeding a strong guy like him inside would force teams to take the beating, or collapse inside on him, freeing up guys like Nick Young to get open perimeter shots.
Yet as sweet as that sounds, I don't see a transition to forward happening for him. At least not while he's in Philadelphia, and under the tutelage of Doug Collins. While in Philadelphia, Collins has relied on Lou Williams, a pure shooting guard turned backup point guard, and even Iguodala, to assist in running the point. And with Williams and Iguodala both finding new homes in other teams around the league, Philadelphia has called upon career reserve player Royal Ivey, and primarily Evan Turner to play point guard when Holiday is not in the game. Until Collins finds value in a true point guard to back up Holiday, that burden will fall on the shoulders of Turner, a detriment to not only his progression as a player, but the team too. The Jeremy Pargo signing is a step in the right direction, but only time will tell if Collins is willing to relinquish ball handling duties from Turner.
If the Sixers decide to move Turner to forward, a position that would be more natural for him, then he's worth keeping. If they continue to value him as a guard, they might as well take what they can get.