Evan Turner Signing Fails to Address Boston Celtics' Biggest Need

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 23, 2014

Indiana Pacers' Evan Turner (12) grabs a rebound against the Orlando Magic during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

Evan Turner could be a great value for the Boston Celtics, with "could" serving as the operative word. 

The swingman, who was once made the No. 2 pick in the 2010 NBA draft, inked a deal with the Association's Beantown representatives, and it's one that will only pay him a portion of the team's mid-level exception, per Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: 

Though his official contract details have yet to be confirmed, the max value of Boston's MLE was $5.305 million, and he's not even getting that full amount. For a player who's turning 26 just prior to the start of the 2014-15 season and has had moderate levels of success when placed in the right situation, that's a solid deal. 

And maybe even better than solid, considering how much some role players have made this summer, but only if he's in the right situation. 

Turner, after all, did average 17.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game during his tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers, one that ended abruptly when he was traded to the Indiana Pacers, with whom he'd spend most of his time on the bench watching the team not-so-slowly unravel. 

Even with the Sixers, he wasn't very efficient, but he was a well-rounded contributor who was thriving with the ball in his hands more than ever before. You could see the talent that made him so special at Ohio State peeking through, offering some semblance of hope that he was more late-bloomer than bust. 

Unfortunately, though, it'll be difficult for that hope to surface once more now that he's with the C's.

Turner can do a lot of things on the basketball court, but he's just not a good fit with the team's current collection of talent, barring a big deal before the offseason draws to a close. 

Positional Glut

SACRAMENTO, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Jeff Green #8 and Gerald Wallace #45 of the Boston Celtics in a game against the Sacramento Kings on February 22, 2014 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

After the acquisition of Turner, the Boston depth chart is just enormously crowded at the wing positions. 

Having players capable of providing quality minutes off the bench is a positive, but having too many can be detrimental to the team's efforts, keeping deserving players in sullen shape on the pine and failing to establish any rotational continuity. 

Right now, Jeff Green still figures to be Boston's starting small forward. Behind him, though, there's a hodgepodge of players, including Turner, Gerald Wallace, James Young and Chris Johnson. 

Green deserves big minutes, as he's one of the best offensive players on the roster, and both Wallace and Turner are going to need significant run each and every night. The former may be declining, but he's still capable of playing average basketball and is being paid too large a sum to rot on the bench. 

Plus, we can't forget about Young. 

Jun 26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; James Young (Kentucky) shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number seventeen overall pick to the Boston Celtics in the 2014 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Pen

The No. 17 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Young is a player who can't just be kept off the court. Not with his enormous two-way upside, even if a neck injury kept him from showing off his skills during Boston's five-game stretch of summer league games. 

"It's always nice to give a guy a chance to play, so soon after they are drafted, but in the scheme of things, it's not critical," Danny Ainge explained about the effects of the 18-year-old's absence during summer league, via ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg. "We'll have all summer to teach him, spend time with him, and get him ready for training camp."

So, that's four players who need action at small forward.

Only Wallace and Green can do convincing power forward imitations, though the Celtics' lack of size in the frontcourt makes giving up more inches a tough proposition. And with Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Marcus Thornton all needing to spend time at shooting guard, playing alongside Rajon Rondo and Phil Pressey, it's difficult to make the smaller candidates line up at the 2. 

Shooting guard may be Turner's favored position, but it may actually be tougher to get playing time there than at the 3, crowded as that position may be as well. 

Playing time is potentially problematic, but let's assume Turner gets the minutes he deserves. Even then, he still can't help the C's with their biggest need. 

He Can't Shoot

Jan 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Evan Turner (12) grabs his head after being hit during the fourth quarter against the Phoenix Suns at the Wells Fargo Center. The Suns defeated the Sixers 124-113. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smit

David Falk, Turner's representative, sang his praises after the deal was struck, per Bulpett. It's important you understand the source is paid by Turner, so there's obviously going to be a bit of bias here:

There’s tremendous upside in the opportunity for both sides. I think the Celtics got an old-school Celtic-type player who’s very, very talented, has a very high basketball IQ and is highly motivated to prove to people that he’s not the player who ended the year in Indiana.

I think he was probably the most undervalued free agent on the market. Evan was in a dramatically different situation the day before the deadline than he was when he finished the year. He didn’t get a lot of playing time in Indiana unfortunately.

But that’s history. There’s nothing we can do to change that. This is a situation where he can come and grow as a player. I think Brad (Stevens) realizes he’s a multi-dimensional player.

Everything Falk said is true. Maybe a bit exaggerated, but true. 

There's just one problem. 

While Turner is indeed a multidimensional player, he doesn't cover the dimension that Boston needs most. He can't provide any spacing out on the court for the many players who thrive closer to the basket, largely because he really just can't shoot the basketball from the perimeter with any sort of consistency. 

Rondo still doesn't have a quality three-point jumper, and though his mid-range game has become solid, it's still not enough. Bradley took strides forward last year, but he doesn't have much of a track record from beyond the arc. 

As for Smart, his biggest weakness has always been his shooting ability, especially after hitting less than 30 percent of his three-point attempts during his final year at Oklahoma State, which features the shortened collegiate arc. 

Adding Thornton surely helps, but only if he's going to spend a lot of time on the court. Which, as you might have gathered from reading the litany of players who need to suit up at the 2 and 3, isn't going to happen on a regular basis. 

Turner shot 28.8 percent from downtown during his final go-round with the Sixers, and though the results of a small sample raised the overall percentage with the Pacers, it was still clear he hadn't developed a three-ball. 

Jan 18, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Philadelphia 76ers small forward Evan Turner (12) shoots over Chicago Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler (21) during the first quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

According to Basketball-Reference.com, the former Buckeye hit only 39.7 percent of his shots between 16 and 23 feet in 2013-14, 38.8 percent from 10 to 16 and 37 percent from three to 10. On jumpers as a whole, regardless of location, he hit at a 37.3 percent clip. 

Basically, his offensive game relies on his work around the rim. You know, just like most of the other offensive contributors on the Boston roster. 

He's redundant while surrounded by Boston's current group of rotation members. 

"Turner needs the ball to create his shot. He enjoys posting up. He is crafty, but not wildly athletic. He doesn’t shoot for a high percentage. He is an average 3-point shooter," writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe before listing a number of things No. 2 picks are supposed to do. 

He continues, "Turner hasn’t done any of those things, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a serviceable player."

Turner is indeed a serviceable player, but read Washburn's first quoted sentence once more. He needs the ball to create his shot. That's a ball that's going to be held at almost all times by Rondo, Smart, Bradley and Green, and that's not including any of the frontcourt players I haven't mentioned, whether Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk or someone else entirely. 

This is not Philadelphia.

Even if Boston is struggling to advance back to playoff contention, the Celtics roster is filled with workable players, not D-League-caliber guys who are going to concede touches to Turner at all times. The 25-year-old will have to adjust, and that's not something he's done well throughout his disappointing time in the Association. 

Turner could be a great value for Boston, a long-term piece at either shooting guard or small forward. But for now, he's just another player who's going to allow defenses to pack the paint and forget about defending any action outside that three-point arc. 

What do you think of Turner's fit with Boston? Let me know on Twitter and Facebook. 


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