Philadelphia 76ers: 8 Reasons Why Evan Turner Is Better in the Starting Lineup
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins finally gets it.
It took the better part of two years, but Collins finally realized that the best starting lineup that he could put on the floor has Evan Turner at shooting guard.
Whether or not Turner is a prototypical 2-guard at this time is of little consequence. The fact remains that simply having him out on the court is essential to the growth of both Turner and the team.
Now that the former No. 2 overall pick is just starting to carve out his niche in the Sixers backcourt, let's take a look at eight reasons why Turner is better in the starting lineup than he is coming off of the bench.
The 6'7", 205-pound Turner is a difficult assignment for most guards in the NBA. There are very few shooting guards who have his size and strength, and when Turner brings the ball up the court for the 76ers, smaller point guards simply find it hard to defend him.
Turner's length and athleticism give other teams fits on the defensive end, and he's often able to outwork his opponent for loose balls and rebounds. Along with the 6'4" Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia has one of the biggest backcourt tandems in the NBA.
Frees Up Jrue Holiday
Evan Turner running the point allows fellow backcourt mate Jrue Holiday to play off the ball: a role in which he excels. Holiday is more of a "scoring guard" than a pure point, and if he isn't solely responsible for getting the team into the offense, it frees him up to do what he does naturally.
With Turner assuming a fair amount of the ball-handling duties in Philadelphia's first-round series against the Chicago Bulls, Holiday is averaging 18.2 PPG. In a perfect world, Turner would be the team's de facto point guard while Holiday would be more of a 2-guard on offense.
Increased Comfort Level with Andre Iguodala
Even though Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner do a lot of the same things, we're only now getting to see how effective they can be playing next to each other.
Iguodala is a lockdown defender Philadelphia employs against the other teams' best wing player. Turner, meanwhile, is more than capable of holding his own defensively, and serves as a fine complement to Iguodala. On the other end of the court, Turner's versatility allows Iguodala to either initiate the offense, curl off screens or slash to the basket, depending on the situation.
More playing time for Turner will only lead to an increased comfort level for both himself and his teammates whenever he's out on the court.
Lack of Alternatives
Jodie Meeks, more or less, is a one-dimensional player. And when that one dimension—long-range shooting—isn't working, he's more of a liability than anything else. Sixers head coach Doug Collins came to that conclusion earlier this year, and finally inserted Evan Turner into the starting lineup (at least temporarily) back in March.
Turner is far superior to Meeks defensively, and is a much more diverse talent in the frontcourt than the 6'4" Meeks, who is basically a spot-up shooter.
Outside of Meeks, Philadelphia doesn't have many other options at shooting guard. The 6'1" Lou Williams is an undersized, below-average defender who is best utilized as an "instant offense" option off of the bench.
Mid-Range Game/Ability to Create
Along with Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams, Evan Turner is one of the few players on the 76ers roster who can consistently create his shot off of the dribble. While is mid-range game is still under construction, Turner has shown a knack for breaking down defenders and getting to the rack with regularity.
A team that struggles with outside shooting like Philadelphia, needs to make it a point to attack the basket and draw contact from opposing defenses. Turner could help lead that charge, and the minutes he'll get as a starter will only serve to help him grow in that department.
Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala are all more than capable of initiating the Sixers offense, and that flexibility gives Doug Collins a plethora of options in terms of offensive sets. The number of angles that a quick, young 76ers team can use to attack, only increases when there are multiple ball-handlers on the court.
If one of the three is having a good shooting night, Philadelphia can use one of the others at the point, then run screens or motion plays to put the ball in the hands of the hot man. Furthermore, the three-headed attack could potentially conserve each player's energy on offense, thus allowing them to be more effective on the defensive end.
Scoring Punch at Start of Game
As we saw in Game 5 of the 76ers' first-round series against the Bulls, Philadelphia is notorious for starting out slow on offense. With Evan Turner in the starting lineup—as opposed to Jodie Meeks—the team has a much better chance of getting out to a fast start.
Of course, starting Turner means that the bench is noticeably weaker as a result. But for a team like the 76ers that has to work so hard on offense to begin with, jumping out to an early lead is crucial. Not only does a hot start breed confidence, but it allows Philadelphia to focus on its best trait: team defense.
Evan Turner's rebounding rate (percentage of rebounds grabbed by a player while he's on the court) of 12.2, is well above the league average (9.9) and nearly double the average rate for guards (6.6).
The 23-year-old swingman has an uncanny ability to be in the right position once an errant shot caroms off of the rim. The 76ers are a mediocre rebounding team at best, but with Turner in the starting lineup, Philadelphia has a far better chance of corralling those misses that could lead to transition baskets and/or second-chance points.