There are games you watch Evan Turner play and you can see why he went No. 2 in the draft — he dropped 24 and 11 on Atlanta last Friday and looked like the kind of building block Philadelphia hoped he would be when they took him ahead of Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George among others.
But he turns around and has a game like Tuesday against Brooklyn — 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting without a great impact on the game — and you wonder where he fits. Which is fine for a player new to the league, but at age 24 at the end of his third season, the “give him time” argument as worn thin.
Doug Collins hasn’t figured him out. Now the Sixers head into a summer likely to see serious changes — does Collins return? What about Andrew Bynum? — and among the questions is what to do with Turner? Trade him, or keep him and hope the next coach can find a spot he feels comfortable?
Part of the problem is perception — if Turner were drafted 10th in what was a generally down draft we might not flinch at these struggles, but when you go No. 2 the expectations are higher. Evans admitted as much to Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com.
“I look over the past few years and say I went No. 2 in the draft and then all my problems started coming. It is not a problem. I have a long career ahead of me, hopefully, and hopefully things get better. And even though it has been a down year for our organization, I try to find positives. It is so easy to find negativity, but as a player I have grown every year.”
His three point shooting has gotten better this season, up to 36.9 percent, but Evans has admitted it happened without him working much on the shot. It just kind of occurred. Turner seems himself as a guy trying to find his role on the team, not as a franchise guy.
“I feel like what I am asked to do and what I am allowed to do lead to me getting the bulk of the blame in certain situations,” Turner suggested. “It goes along with the status of being the No. 2 overall pick – the No. 2 pick is supposed to be the franchise tag, but here it is a different situation because I am a role player.”
The Sixers are not going to offer Turner a contract extension this summer, that you can be sure about.
But what they do with him — trade him, keep him for another season and let the market decide is price as a restricted free agent — remains a big question. On that has to be answered in the context of a lot of other big picture questions in Philadelphia.