Philadelphia 76ers: Analyzing the Andre Iguodala/Evan Turner Controversy

Roy BurtonContributor IMarch 8, 2012

Philadelphia 76ers: Analyzing the Andre Iguodala/Evan Turner Controversy

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    Many consider it to be an either/or proposition.

    Either Andre Iguodala or Evan Turner. Two players, both of whom are best suited to play the exact same position—just ask 76ers president Rod Thorn.

    And because of that, Turner—the No. 2 pick in the 2010 NBA draft—has been "stuck" behind Iguodala in Philadelphia's rotation.

    It's fair to wonder just how much Turner's development has been stunted since available minutes at the small forward spot are few and far between. It's also fair to point out that Turner hasn't done much to force himself into the conversation, either.

    76ers head coach Doug Collins inserted Turner into the starting lineup (at shooting guard) earlier this week, and so far, the results have been mixed. Two games into the latest iteration of the Turner-Iguodala experiment, it remains to be seen if they can develop a long-lasting rapport playing alongside each other.

    The similarities between the two are so apparent that fans and columnists alike have been clamoring for the 76ers to trade one of them since last December—a month into Turner's rookie season.

    But with Philadelphia on top of the Atlantic Division, no move appears to be imminent. So while the 76ers are still figuring out how the puzzle will ultimately come together, let's take a look at some of the reasons why the Turner/Iguodala debate continues to rage on.

Iguodala and Turner Have Similar Skill Sets

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    Iguodala and Turner are just two of the roughly half-dozen players on the 76ers who truly don't have a defined position.

    Both players have the prototypical size for an NBA swingman (Turner: 6'7", 205; Iguodala: 6'6", 207), but neither has a consistent enough mid-range game to be considered a natural shooting guard.

    In a perfect world, each would fill some sort of a "point forward" role for the 76ers: initiating the offense from the 3 position while also having the freedom to create off the dribble. However, for a team that's still trying to develop the right floor chemistry, it doesn't make sense for the two of them to share that responsibility.

    After Turner's breakout game against the Boston Celtics last night—a contest in which he handled the majority of the ball-handling duties—it looks as though he'll be the primary playmaker going forward. As such, Iguodala will have to play more of a 2-guard role—a position he's been thrust into several times during his career with varying levels of success.

'Win Now' Mentality

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    With apologies to Jay-Z's The Blueprint 2, the Philadelphia 76ers' 41-41 finish last season was truly The Gift and The Curse.

    After a competitive five-game set with the Miami Heat in the playoffs last April, it was fair to assume that the 76ers could improve upon that performance and possibly win a series (or two) this year.

    If that's truly the Sixers' primary goal, then it makes sense for them to try to win as many games as they can during the regular season. And the best way to accomplish that is by playing their proven veterans (Iguodala, Young, Williams) at the expense of their younger talent (Turner).

    The Sixers are clearly in "win now" mode, especially with a new ownership group that has brought life to a moribund franchise that was 25th in the NBA in attendance in 2010-11.

    But if the ultimate goal is for sustained success in the future, then Philadelphia needs to throw its younger players into the unforgiving NBA waters and find out just how well they can swim.

Collins Prefers Iguodala's Defense

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    Until recently, Turner's minutes have been limited due to the fact that 76ers head coach Doug Collins prefers to have Iguodala on the floor when Philadelphia has to deal with a dynamic wing player.

    It's hard to disagree with Collins' line of thinking. Turner is an above-average defender at best, while Iguodala is an all-NBA talent who has locked down more than his fair share of superstars throughout his career.

    Since the league is loaded with exceptional shooting guards and small forwards, Iguodala—who allows an average of 0.72 points per possession, according to SynergySports—is going to get the lion's share of minutes at the 3 spot, especially in the fourth quarter.

    With Lou Williams being the team's most prolific scorer in the clutch, Turner may be forced to share minutes with Jrue Holiday down the stretch of close games.

Jodie Meeks Has Blocked Turner As Well

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    Jodie Meeks has carved out a solid NBA career thanks to his proficiency from beyond the three-point arc. That singular skill entrenched him as the 76ers' starting shooting guard for the better part of two seasons, despite Evan Turner waiting in the wings.

    Meeks, as the theory goes, spaces the floor on offense since opposing teams are forced to guard him whenever he spots up for a 24-footer. Unfortunately, that logic has reasoning if (and only if) Meeks is actually hitting his shots.

    There's no reason to sugarcoat it: when his jumper is inconsistent, Meeks is more or less a liability. But until Evan Turner was inserted into the starting lineup this week, the 76ers were so enamored with the possibility of Meeks knocking down a few threes that they've probably cost Turner hundreds of much-needed minutes.

    Turner has a long way to go before his jump shot is a reliable weapon, but Collins realized that starting his 23-year-old swingman at the 2 is the best way to integrate him into the rotation.

Iguodala Is Still Best Player

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    Perhaps, no athlete in the City of Brotherly Love is subject to as much criticism as Iguodala.

    Is he a franchise-defining superstar? No. Is he the one you want with the ball in his hands in the clutch? Not necessarily. But he is a world-class defender, an All-Star, and arguably, the team's best player. And as such, he's earned the right to play the position in which he's most comfortable—small forward.

    As a result, the square peg of Evan Turner will invariably be fit into a round hole of sorts. Turner, though, is an exceptional rebounder and is more than capable with the ball in his hands. It's not a leap of faith to think that his diverse talents will allow him to transition to whatever role is required. 76ers fans—as impatient as any in the NBA—are hoping that the transition happens sooner rather than later.