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Evan Turner Should Start Over Jodie Meeks if Starting Actually Mattered

Doug coaches with Stick 'Em on his hands.
Doug coaches with Stick 'Em on his hands.

When Jodie Meeks took over the starting role from Jason Kapono/Andres Nocioni/Evan Turner last December, it was a temporary move to shore up the team's abysmal outside shooting, which allowed defenses to clog the lane and force jump shots. When Jodie continued to hit shots and the team won games, his position in the starting lineup was solidified. Doug Collins is nothing if not loyal and the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" proverb probably hangs in his kitchen somwhere.

It's clear that Doug appreciates Jodie for coming out of nowhere and contributing nicely to the team last season. He wants to reward him for that, not bench him after five games of terrible shooting and defensive liabilities. Evan Turner is a better player NOW, and his upward trajectory is infinitely more important than making sure Jodie Meeks, a 8th or 9th guy on a good team, gets to see the tip-off up close. Turner has been playing better basketball thus far and he should be getting 30 minutes a night. Whether those minutes are in the starting lineup or from the bench really doesn't matter much.

I go back and forth between the idea that starting influences a player's psyche. I agree that it changes the role of the player on the team, but once they're on the court, it doesn't matter who started and who didn't. Doug likes bringing a second unit in that features Turner, Louis Williams, and Thaddeus Young and the argument has been made that Meeks wouldn't fit in as well with that second unit. This isn't hockey. It's not like Collins ever switches out the entire starting lineup for the bench, so I don't see a huge difference in why Turner and Meeks switching roles would have much difference chemistry wise.

What has been noticeable is how slow the first unit has been to start the games so far this year. They've been outscored by 14 points through five games this season, including two games where they were down double digits going into the second. Last night against the Hornets is a prime example of why that is. According to Depressed Fan, Eric Gordon shot 6-8 for 17 points while Jodie was covering him, primarily in the first and third quarters. When Turner, Holiday, or Andre Iguodala matched up with him, The Commissioner went 2-14 for a meager 5 points. Defensively, there's no argument. Getting into holes and having the bench bail you out is not a strategy and it'll fail more often than not.

If Jodie isn't hitting shots (thus far he's got a .389 eFG and a .411 TS%), he is the worst starter in the league. He does not do anything else that can be called average. The only thing (save shooting) that makes him better than Willie Green is that Willie Green doesn't realize he's Willie Green. He needs to make shots not only to save his spot in the starting lineup, but also his spot on the team.

Turner should start over Meeks. Does it matter much? Not really. As long as ET is getting more minutes and being allowed to create, it doesn't really matter who plays first. It says something to me about how the Sixers feel about Turner when he's not starting, but that's a whole other bag of hair.

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