To say Evan Turner's career has been filled with ups and downs is a huge understatement.
After being selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the second overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft, he was deemed the player that would turn the franchise around and become the superstar it needed so badly. But Turner wasn't ready for that role, and he not only had to adjust to playing against the best athletes in the world, but also had to learn a new position under a new head coach, Doug Collins, who took over the summer Evan was drafted.
After a relatively disappointing rookie season in which he went in and out of the rotation, Turner took advantage of his minutes in the postseason, scoring 17 points in the team's only victory over the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
Coming into this season, the fans once again expected the best from Turner, who averaged just 9.4 points per game, primarily coming off the bench. Through his first 143 professional games, he has started just 34 contests, a number far lower than many had hoped.
With expectations relatively low for the 76ers heading into their playoff series against the Chicago Bulls, the No. 1 overall seed, Turner was the hot name after he made comments to the media about wanting to play the Bulls.
After a solid Game 1 performance in the loss, Collins gave Evan the start in Game 2, and he delivered with 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists. That confidence continued to build as Turner started again last night in Philadelphia. He dropped 16 points and nine rebounds and racked up over 40 minutes for the second straight game en route to another win.
Down the stretch in last night's 79-74 win at home, Turner had the ball in his hands to make plays and was able to help lead his team to victory. With the Sixers' two veterans, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand, struggling mightily (combined for just five points), Turner, Jrue Holiday, Spencer Hawes and Lou Williams scored 68 of the team's 79 points last night, proving that the young guys can carry this team.
Turner delivered late in the game by crashing the offensive boards and hitting crucial free throws down the stretch to help the Sixers hold on and take a 2-1 lead.
Evan has taken his game to another level and has responded very well to adversity. In Chicago, his hometown, he was booed every time he touched the ball yet still maintained his focus and played smart, team basketball. He continues to impress fans in Philadelphia with his ability to get into the lane and make plays, as he has done many times now in this series.
After the game, Turner was interviewed by Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia on the court and said to the fans, "I want to thank all of you for sticking with me." The fans have been hard on Evan because of high expectations placed upon him, being the second overall pick in the draft. But now, in the playoffs, when the games matter, Turner is playing his best basketball and showing that he has finally arrived.
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