The short career for Evan Turner in a Sixers' uniform has been quite the whirlwind so far. He started the season coming off the bench in favor of Jason Kapono. He then was on the bench in favor of Andres Nocioni. He then cracked the starting five due to Andre Iguodala's injury, and impressed enough to earn a starting spot once Iguodala returned. And now he is back on the bench due to the emergence of Jodie Meeks.
You may think that no one has gone through a roller coaster of a career like that, but then in that case you are forgetting about the man that took Evan Turner's starting spot, Jodie Meeks.
Meeks' career to this point has been a little wacky itself. He was a prolific scorer in college who could light it up in bunches when he was hot. Was drafted in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks. He was dealt to the Sixers' during his rookie year for Primoz Brezec and Royal Ivey. He started this season on the bench in a suit on some nights. And now he is the starting shooting guard and perhaps the most important part of the team's recent success.
With all of that being said, what does Jodie Meeks' emergence mean for the future of the No. 2 overall pick, Evan Turner. The major worry has been that Evan Turner cannot develop with Andre Iguodala on the team because the two cannot co-exist together on the floor at the same time. Now here's a two guard in Meek's who is demanding minutes because of his play and there does not seem to be much that Evan Turner can do about it especially considering that Meeks has no problems playing with anyone on the floor because of how well he moves off the ball.
Jodie Meeks has started the last three games for the Sixer's and is averaging 17.0 points and shooting an incredible 53.1% from the floor. In his last six games he has knocked down 18 3-pointers and is shooting 47.2% from beyond this season.
These numbers have undoubtedly made the Sixers a more finished product. Not only does Meeks spread out the opposing defense to create lanes for Iguodala, Holiday, and Brand, but he also plays pretty stellar defense. Unlike Kapono, he is not a defensive liability at all and can still light it up from deep.
This certainly does not mean that we should write off Evan Turner. I still believe from watching the games that Turner has a lot of great skills that are going to make him a great NBA player, but what he lacks most, is confidence.
Evan Turner has got to carve out some sort of niche on this team that he feels confident in. Take the Sixer's last game for example. The team put up a season high 117 points. Nine players played and all of them scored but seven of them were in double figures. Evan Turner was not one of those guys. Turner played just over 14 minutes and took three shots connecting on one of them. He had no free throw attempts and finished with 2 points, 1 assists and 1 rebound. Not stellar numbers.
Turner has to realize that at this point, he is not going to carve out a place for himself on the court by scoring the ball. It simply will not happen. There are not enough shots to go around with Meeks scoring like he is, Holiday really becoming a penetrating threat because of Meeks, Iguodala and Brand playing very consistently, and Thaddeus Young making a push to become a sixth man candidate.
It is not the two points that people should worry about. It is the one assist and one rebound. Turner has got to start producing in those areas if he is going to stay on the court and get a chance to develop. Right now, Evan Turner's development does not seem to be priority one for the Sixers. Their priority is winning and Jodie Meeks is giving them the best chance to do that. Meeks has given the Sixers perhaps their most balanced starting five since the early 2000's. Everyone clearly knows their roles in this lineup and they are playing them well right now.
Tonight's game against Boston will be a real nice measuring stick for this team. A possible shootout between Meeks and Ray Allen, an assist battle between Holiday and Rajon Rondo, a battle of physicality between Iguodala and Pierce, a match between savvy veterans in Brand and Kevin Garnett, and, well whatever you call what Hawes vs. Shaq will be, should all make for an interesting match up vs. Boston.
All in all, it is still unclear what Jodie Meeks' play will mean for Turner. Frankly, I do not think the Sixers are too concerned about it. The team is winning and people are starting to talk about the Sixers again. My roommate, who has never considered himself a Sixers fan at all has gone from "who cares" to "interested" which says a lot about the direction of the team right now.
Hopefully Turner finds a way to carve out a role for the team because experts say that he really plays well when he is confident in what he is doing and he's knows others around him are confident too. But this is not college anymore. To succeed at this level, he has to learn that sometimes you have to overcome people not having confidence in you because quite frankly, in the NBA it's about winning and Meeks is giving the Sixers the best chance to do that.