He’s not that fast, not that tall, not overwhelmingly athletic, and not a particularly great shooter, but there’s just no getting around it, Evan Turner’s got GAME. The 2010 #2 overall pick has had an up and down career to say the least. He averaged 17.4 points and 6 rebounds per game in 54 appearances with Philadelphia before being traded to Indiana in 2014. There he averaged a little over 7 points and 3 boards, finding himself routinely in the DNP column on the Pacers box score during their playoff run. Leading him to Boston, where last season Turner surprised analysts and Celtics fans alike with a sneaky 9.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game.
Turner joined a list of only 4 players with 3 or more triple doubles in 2015. He also landed with a group of players that Celtics enthusiasts likely find more impressive:
Boston Celtics with multiple triple-doubles... Larry Bird Rajon Rondo Antoine Walker Paul Pierce Evan Turner Yep, that's the whole list.— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) March 24, 2015
It’s apparent that in order for him to be successful, Turner needs to have the ball in his hands and the freedom to create off the dribble. Considering his skill set, it’s still a bit of a mystery how 6th year guard/forward has found his niche with a Celtics team so focused on the three-point shot and consistently moving the ball.
Could it be as simple as Brad Stevens makes it out to be? Via Chris Forsberg of ESPN:
"He's a basketball player," Stevens said. "And I anticipate he'll find the court a lot and in big moments because he's a basketball player."
To the casual fan, this statement seems redundant. “We knew that”. But there is so much behind that statement. Stevens clearly appreciates all the little things Turner brings to his basketball team.
Another underrated attribute Turner excels in is durability. He played in all 82 games last year, the 2nd time he’s accomplished this feat over 5 full seasons. He fell shy with just 81 in 2013-14, resting his knee one night while with Philadelphia. The former OSU Buckeye has only missed 22 regular season games throughout his professional career.
With the new veteran and rookie acquisitions this off-season, many have Turner labeled as an after-thought, but he continues to prove why he belongs in the rotation. Monday against Brooklyn, the 6’7” guard played well, scoring 10 points, grabbing 7 rebounds, and dishing 6 dimes all in just 27 minutes of work. He looked well on his way to another triple double before Stevens opted to rest him in an effort to give the young guys some run.
He might not have the highest ceiling on the roster, but last season one could make a compelling argument that Evan Turner was Boston’s MVP. And despite that, many (including myself) considered him a good candidate to be shipped out by Danny Ainge in order to create space for the green “fireworks” we were promised.
Like many players on this team, the best quality Evan Turner has going for him is the coaching staff’s confidence in him. Steven’s has given #11 the green light down the stretch. A proven theory:
And well, again.
What may be most important overall, Evan Turner is now enjoying the game. From Bill Doyle of the Providence Journal:
“I was somewhat wary of basketball, you know what I’m saying? I was getting back into it and finding my excitement for it again. Now it’s all good, it’s all fun.”
If Turner continues his improvement from last season, it’s going to be hard for Boston fans who haven’t already caught “Turner Fever” not to appreciate the positive contributions he makes each game.
Photo Credit: Bill Streicher USA Today
Video Credit: watchnba201415, NBA, madbadd's channel
For more Celtics takes throughout the season follow Nolan on Twitter @Nolanchuck Nolan Connor 10/22/2015 10:19:00 AM Tweet Edit