Evan Turner is set to make his third start of the young season tonight against the Dallas Mavericks.
This is relevant for a multitude of reasons.
First, Evan Turner is starting despite the fact that Andre Iguodala is back in the starting lineup, forming the perimeter trio most envisioned when the Sixers lucked into the second pick in the draft.
Second, if Evan Turner has won the starting spot -- not getting spot starts due to injury -- it would be a feat rarely accomplished under Doug Collins. First round draft selections have started a total of 34 games in Collins' previous 8 NBA season. That includes 6 starts from Horace Grant and 0 from Scottie Pippen, a duo that has started 2,090 games during their combined NBA careers.
First round draft picks under Doug Collins have started, on average, 2.83 games during their rookie seasons. Turner will surpass that number in his 9th NBA game.
Still, with the second overall pick the Sixers were expecting an immediate game changer. A guy who could turn around the franchise from the get-go. Obviously, the struggles Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady had during their rookie campaigns prove that a slow start is not a damnation to NBA mediocrity. But these were 18-19 year old kids coming out of high school. A seasoned 22 year old collegiate veteran shouldn't be struggling, right ?
Not necessarily. Domination from wing players isn't always automatic. Sure, there are extreme examples, usually where a players athleticism is so above and beyond those of his peers that he can physically dominate, even at sucha young age. For everyone else, there's a transition.
"I think the misconception is that when you come into the league, you're not allowed to mess up," Turner said. "Here, it's a new level. You have to restart over a little bit and restart your learning, because it's a different type of level."
To an extent, Turner's right. Most are underestimating the time it takes for even supremely talented wing players to adjust. The examples are endless.
The player Turner's most often compared to, Brandon Roy, spent 4 years at the University of Washington and had a very good rookie campaign. That being said, Roy averaged just 11.6 points on 37.7% from the field in November during his rookie season, averaging 27.6 minutes per game. Roy would go on to average 18.7 points on 48.5% from the field after the all-star break.
Dwyane Wade averaged 14.7 points per game on 39.7% from the field in over 35 minutes per night in his first full month in the league, then went on to average 16.2 points per game on 45% after the break. Stephen Curry averaged 9.8 points on 41.7% from the field in 29 minutes per during November last year, 22.1 points per game on 46.8% from the field after the all-star break. Jason Richardson averaged 10.2 points in 26 minutes during his inaugural November. Ray Allen averaged only 12.7 points on 44% from the field his first month in the NBA after dominating his three years at the University of Connecticut.
Kevin Martin? He was only able to find a little over 10 minutes per game during his entire rookie year at the ripe old age of 21, averaging a measly 2.9 points. He's seemed to locate his scoring touch.
All of these examples (of which there are plenty more) are from players who came in with 2, 3, even 4 years of college experience under their belt, many of whom were high lottery picks. These weren't 18 or 19 year old kids but 20-22 year olds, all who went on to have seasons of 20+ points per game.
In context, Evan Turner's 10 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 29 minutes doesn't seem all that out of line. Perhaps, the sky isn't falling. Perhaps, our expectations were a little outlandish.
If Evan Turner has won the starting 2 guard spot, that's a huge first step. Let's see what the future holds before declaring the kid a bust.