Evan Turner has not had a good season.
You can see it in the numbers, you can see it with your eyes, or you can spell it in your Alpha-Bets cereal. It's pretty undeniable that he has disappointed the fans, the management, and even moreso himself with his very unspectacular rookie season.
But I don't think Doug Collins and the Sixers have handled him correctly thus far and if his DNP-CD trend keeps up, they won't be handling him right the rest of the season into the playoffs.
If you haven't seen it yet, Derek wrote an article earlier today claiming Evan deserves to be out of the rotation because of how poorly he's played this season as a whole and especially of late. It's a terrific read -- one of the best articles I've seen on LB this season. But I'm going to go ahead and respectfully disagree with him.
Consider the situation. The Sixers are one game away from clinching a playoff spot. While the core is young, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand have logged a good chunk of minutes between them and aren't in perfect health. The Knicks linger two games back, but with the series advantage favoring the Sixers at 2-1, a win over those Knicks on April 6th would basically give the Sixers a 4 game cushion on them with 6 other games to play.
With that in mind, let's look at why Evan Turner (and Marreese Speights) should be in the regular rotation.
Again, I have acknowledged that Turner is having a terrible season. I'm also aware that I'm a pretty big Turner apologist. But I still hold onto the belief that his development is much more important than winning a couple more regular season games and the difference between finishing 6th or 7th in the East. This is especially negligible since the Heat and Celtics will flip-flop at the 2/3 until season's end.
So if you concede the fact that we're playing the Heat or Celtics regardless of what happens, and that Iguodala could do with some time off, or at the very least limited minutes, why not give those minutes to the rookie? As Collins said, he hasn't figured out how to play off the ball. There's literally no harm in giving him the last seven games to work on a few things, be more aggressive, work his ass off, and a legitimate opportunity to prove to Collins that he deserves to be at least the 8th man in the playoff rotation. The Sixers aren't winning anything if Iguodala isn't playing near 75%, so put him in a suit for a few games and let Dre rest his knee while ET gets some much needed experience. So for the last 7 games, Evan should be playing for a number of reasons.
It's not like Turner's poor play is a recent development. He's been pretty much the same player all season and, while never having a clear role on the offensive end, didn't get comfortable at any point. If this was the consensus among the staff, there is no reason save for embarrassment why he wasn't sent to the D-League to work on playing off the ball. As reader 'mgfields' noted in Derek's article, they've asked him "to change his basketball identity" while facing much better competition at a new level. For a notoriously slow starter, this can be crippling, and it was. Giving him 15 games in Springfield to work on what Collins wants him to work on could have gotten him ready for the second half of the season and the rest of his career as an off-the-ball shooting guard. But, as it was with Craig Brackins, the Sixers continue to demonstrate little to no knowledge of how to properly use the D-League.
I love how, in Collins' interview, he admits he made a mistake in the Miami game putting Andres Nocioni on Dwyane Wade and LeBron James rather than Turner. The direct quote is "I should have gone with Evan. I thought Evan probably would have done a better job defensively so I made a mistake in that game." It's really very cool of him to talk about his thought process with the substitutions and tap his chest when he blows it. That he goes by a gut feeling could benefit Evan in a potential series against Miami. I think he's a terrific coach and I'm excited to see what he can do in a playoff setting with this roster.
But Doug's priority is winning basketball games, not developing young talent. Even if Noce gives you a bit more than Evan on the court, which I don't believe he does, giving Turner time in situations like these will benefit both he and the team so much more in the future than it would if those minutes were given to Noce. Andres has no future with the Sixers. Evan could have a long one. For such a small difference, it's bothersome of Collins to neglect Turner in favor of the probably less-able veteran.
While we're on the topic, this same argument can be made for Marreese Speights. Brand needs time off, Tony Battie is both bad and injured, and Spencer Hawes won't continue to play at this high of a level forever. Give Mo some time, regardless of his defense. Louis Williams gets minutes as a defensive liability. Speights needs that same leeway. When you consider how poorly the Sixers have rebounded in a few games recently, Mo's 23.2 DRB% would be a welcome sight on the court. He's got less of an excuse than Turner does because he's had three years to work on defense and it hasn't come, but he can still help the team in a number of ways and, at least for the last seven games, Doug should extend his role to see if he's worth playing in the first round. There is literally no harm that could come of this.
No one is claiming Turner has been as great as we expected him to be. But he's a rookie who has started poorly at his past two levels with seven free games at Doug's disposal to do with him what he will while Andre gets to rest up for the Heat or Celtics. If Evan plays terribly, we play the Heat or Celtics and keep him out of the playoff rotation. If he excels, we play the Heat or Celtics with a more confident Turner in the playoff rotation.
There is no downside.