Philadelphia 76ers' Evan Turner Isn't a Bust After All

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Philadelphia 76ers' Evan Turner Isn't a Bust After All
Getty Images/Rocky Widner

Evan Turner might have faced ridicule since the Philadelphia 76ers selected him with the No. 2 pick in the 2010 NBA draft, but he has proven that he's anything but a bust.

Turner came out of Ohio State University with every National Player of the Year award and seemed like a lock to be an impact player at the next level. DraftExpress.net had this to say about him before the draft:

...any team looking for a dynamic shot-creator to give their half-court offense a huge shot in the arm would benefit greatly from Turner’s presence. This study does not even take into account his passing, rebounding or defensive skills, three of his best attributes, and which make him arguably the most versatile prospect in this draft.

Unfortunately, a mediocre jumper and lack of elite athleticism caused him to come out of the gate in first gear. He made the Sixers look foolish for passing on players like DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe and Paul George—that was, until the 2013-14 season took place.

Turner has emerged as one of Philadelphia's best offensive options and proved that he is a legitimate starter in this league.

Regardless of what team he plays for.

Let's take a look at why Turner has escaped the title of draft bust.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Turner is very capable at handling the ball.

 

Versatility

Turner showed his versatility earlier in his career when he began to play the point-forward position.

Former head coach Doug Collins sometimes used him as the backup point guard behind Jrue Holiday because of his skill level. Two years ago, Bob Cooney of Philly.com captured Coach Collins referring to how Turner fits in with Holiday and Andre Iguodala on the basketball court:

USA TODAY Sports
Collins was pretty tough on Turner.

He needs the ball in his hands ... Evan's a point guard. At the end of the day, he's a point guard. The big thing about it is that we have to play an extended period of time with him and Dre out there together and that's what I'm locked into. Unless there's an injury, I'm going to finish the year with those two guys playing together.

Turner might not be the most gifted player, but he finds a way to rack up pretty high totals in each statistical category based on his skill level.

He's been able to impact the game in multiple ways for some time now; the difference between the past and the present is how he's able to put it all together. He is no longer a shooting guard, small forward or backup point guard. He's now a combination of all three on any given night.

Opposing teams need to look out because the new Turner is able to grab the ball off the rim and take it coast-to-coast for a pull-up jumper or dunk. Speaking of dunks, where in the world has Turner's leaping ability come from? He's as explosive as ever, and it's only helping his game.

If he got moved to another team, then he could easily start at either shooting guard or small forward depending on the team’s need. He's no longer locked into a certain mold and expected to do more than he's given freedom to do.

 

Production

People can argue about how good or bad a player is all they want, but it's pretty difficult to argue with great production. Players don't put up big numbers over the course of a season by being lucky. It takes big doses of effort and talent to be able to make that happen.

Turner's strong 2013-14 campaign has proven that he's got both and is putting them to good use.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Turner is putting the ball in the basket this year.

Averaging 19 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game are all valuable totals—19 points is 5.7 points per game higher than his previous career-high. There has been growth in point totals, average steals and minutes per game each of his first four seasons in the league.

Calling someone who averages close to 20 points per game a bust doesn't really fit the bill. Turner's had his fair share of bad moments while wearing a Sixers jersey, but his numbers across the board aren't the kind of numbers a bust would put up in his fourth NBA season.

 

Other No. 2 Picks

One of the best ways to see if Turner has escaped the bust title is to compare him to other former No. 2 draft picks in recent memory.

Turner actually comes out of the picture looking pretty dang good.

Former No. 2 Draft Picks' Best Seasons
Player (Draft Year) Points Per Game Assists Per Game Rebounds Per Game
Evan Turner (2010) 19.0 3.9 6.3
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2012) 9.0 1.5 5.8
Derrick Williams (2011) 12.0 0.6 5.5
Hasheem Thabeet (2009) 3.1 0.2 3.6
Michael Beasley (2008) 19.2 2.2 5.6
Kevin Durant (2007) 29.8 4.9 8.1
LaMarcus Aldridge (2006) 23.8 2.9 11.2
Marvin Williams (2005) 14.8 1.7 5.7

NBA.com

It only takes one look at the chart to see that Turner is nowhere close to the bust that some were worried he was.

Not only is he playing well, it looks like he might be playing well enough to show that the Sixers were making the right decision by selecting him with the No. 2 pick in the draft.

Turner brings a skill set to the game that's pretty tough to find. The majority of NBA teams could immediately put him into their starting lineups right now and get better. Philadelphia is one of those teams, and trading him would almost certainly lead to a rougher year for the Sixers.

It just might be what helps them in the long run, though.

For now, Turner can celebrate successfully dropping any doubt of being a bust. His numbers are too good and his impact is too high to ever warrant that kind of title again.

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