Evan Turner has generally been the odd man out, following the aftermath of the Andrew Bynum trade. Jrue Holiday is the consensus Robin, to Bynum's Batman, while Turner is viewed as "That BUST, who can't shoot a lick".
Many are down on Turner, because he shot something like, 11 percent, in the Playoffs. But I remain one of The Villain's biggest supporters. I've been an advocate of Turner as the sixth man, but I remain confident – regardless of role – that Turner is going to have a breakout 2012-13 season.
Departure of Andre Iguodala
Andre Iguodala is a great player. He was the face of the franchise for half a decade, and his departure leaves the Sixers without the best perimeter defender in the NBA. However; trading him for Andrew Bynum was a no-brainer – not only did it provide the Sixers with the second best center in the league, and legitimate superstar, it also opened the door for Evan Turner to fulfill the All-Star potential many believed he had at Ohio State.
Although Iguodala's usage rate was relatively low, he was always involved in the offense – often times initiating it, as the point forward. There were flashes of cohesion between Turner and Iguodala, but for the most part, their individual success was mutually exclusive.
Statistically, Evan Turner's best game occurred when Iguodala was on the bench. In a road victory over the Bucks, Turner recorded 29 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists, while Iguodala got the DNP. Like I said, the two occasionally both played well together, but all seven of Turner's 20 point games came when he attempted more shots than Dre.
Furthermore, Turner played in three lineups throughout the regular season, without Iguodala, whom logged at least 75 total minutes. Those lineups, with Turner at small forward, collectively scored 110 points per 100 possessions, while allowing less than 96. Of course, these numbers represent a small sample size – and these lineups were usually playing against weaker competition (benches) – but there's still enough data to feel optimistic about Turner adequately filling Dre's role of universal swingman.
Underrated Jump Shot
The discussion surrounding Evan Turner's broken jump shot is greatly exaggerated. It's still a work in progress, and his evolving release leaves much to be desired, but it's not as bad as the masses contend.
Turner attempted 461 shots, classified as 'jump shots' last season. He converted on 177 of those attempts – a shooting percentage of .384. Here's a list of shooters, whom are generally lauded for their shooting prowess, with a lower regular season percentage than Evan Turner: Dwyane Wade, Nick Young, James Harden, Kevin Martin, Deron Williams, Rudy Gay and Monta Ellis.
As always, numbers don't paint the whole picture – degree of difficulty, sample size and percentage assisted are among the variables that go into these percentages. But, again, Turner's shot isn't nearly as bad as its reputation. That said, he absolutely needs to develop a respectable three-point shot.
Change of Approach
In May, I pointed out Evan's Playoff evolution, not once, but twice. His peripheral statistics were abysmal, but beneath the surface, you'll notice an improved approach.
Turner's previously anemic free throw rate (0.18) has sky-rocketed to 0.34, and his rim shot/long two ratio has more-than-doubled, to 1.42. He's been significantly more aggressive attacking the basket.
Unfortunately, his aggressive approach didn't breed the success it theoretically should have – something I attempted to explain using a baseball analogy.
I like to think of it as the basketball equivalent to BABIP – an advanced baseball stat that suggests whether a player has been lucky or unlucky. Here are Turner's shooting percentages, broken down by shot location: 49% (at rim), 19% (3-9 feet), 48% (10-15 feet), 21% (16-23 feet) and 0% (three point). All of his percentages are significantly lower than his season averages, along with the average percentages of an NBA guard – except his mid-range shot. Therefore, I'd expect Turner's percentages to [eventually] increase [as the sample size increases].
If Evan Turner shot his regular season averages on all jump shots during the Playoffs (3-9 feet, 10-15 feet, 16-23 feet, threes), his shooting percentage would've increased from 36 percent to 45 percent* That's a big difference. The disappearing act of Turner's already-mediocre jump shot is probably more of a luck/small sample size issue than anything else.
Staying in line wit the BABIP analogy, buying stock Turner's Playoff approach – despite the success – is similar to buying stock in a baseball player, whose seen an increase in line drives, yet a decrease in batting average on balls in play (mostly luck-based).
For these reasons, I fully expect things to come together for Turner, in his third season in the NBA, and the addition of Andrew Bynum, along with the subtraction of Andre Iguodala, should solidify his status as a breakout candidate in 2012-13.