Where Evan Turner Must Improve to Live Up to Expectations for Philadelphia 76ers

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterSeptember 26, 2013

It wasn't too long ago that Evan Turner was your National Player of the Year at Ohio State and the next big NBA prospect. 

But he hasn't yet lived up to the expectations that come with being the No. 2 pick in the draft. And now, Turner will be entering the final year of his rookie deal with something left to prove. 

With the Philadelphia 76ers in stage one of a massive rebuilding process, management will have a decision to make regarding Turner's future with the team. 

Turner has a game you'd think would translate nicely to the pros. And it should—he just has to do a better job of executing it. 

And there are two glaring weaknesses in his game keeping him from producing consistent results. 

Get to the Line

Turner gets to the line at just an awful rate. 

In 35 minutes a game last season, he only averaged 2.5 free-throw attempts per game. Too often you'll see Turner contorting his body to avoid contract instead of initiating it at the rim. 

Turner also has to do a better job of recognizing when to attack the basket versus going to the jumper. At times he'll pass on an easy scoring opportunity for a harder one. 

Below, Turner draws the slower Kevin Garnett in isolation with the entire left side of the floor empty—all other eight players are stacked up on the right.

Turner should be able to take Garnett off the dribble and at least draw a foul on the way to the rim. 

But instead, he pulls up for a long two-pointer with a 6'11'' big man in his face to contest. 

Though he's capable of making that shot, it's a lower-percentage route to go about generating points. 

Finishing in the Mid-Range, at the Rim 

With tight handles for a forward, Turner has the ability to create his own shot from multiple spots on the floor. As a shooter, he can separate for balanced looks, whether he's pulling up, stepping back or fading away over the shoulder. As an attacker, he's got the athleticism to penetrate the paint and get off shots at the rim.

But he just hasn't made enough of them. 

According to Vorped, Turner finished just 44 percent of his shots in the key and 43 percent in the mid-range. 

His mid-range percentage isn't horrible, but this has to be his speciality—his bread and butter. Without that above-the-rim explosiveness to pick up easy buckets inside, Turner's sweet spots have to fall within that 12-to-20-foot area. 

And 43 percent in the mid-range just isn't anything to highlight on your resume. 

What's really troubling is his 44-percent conversion rate inside. The better wings like Andre Iguodala, Paul George, Paul Pierce, Kawhi Leonard, even Gordon Hayward—these guys all shoot in the high 50s or low 60s at the rim.

Much of the time, finishing at the rim is related to physical tools—whether a player can elevate above traffic or score after contact. 

For Turner, he's got to find a way to turn some of those misses inside into two shots at the line. 


Turner's inconsistency has been his Achilles' heel, which you can really just trace back to his struggles as a mid- and short-range finisher. 

Check out some of these duds Turner threw up last season:

Games with Less than Five Field-Goals Made31
Games with Less than 10 Points21
Games with Six Points or Less14
Games with Two Free-Throw Attempts or Less50

The guys who get the big bucks are the ones that show up every game. Someone like J.R. Smith has the talent to drop 30 on any given night. But the fact that he can just as easily go 1-of-10 hurts his NBA value. 

We're still at the point with Turner where we're guessing who'll show up.

He was essentially a non-factor offensively once every four contests last season, finishing 21 games as a single-digit scorer. 

There isn't much rocket science to analyze here. Turner has to do a better job of creating high-percentage looks for himself, and ultimately convert more of them. 

Two-or-less free-throw attempts in 50 games illustrates how much Turner relies on difficult shot-making. 

By getting to the line instead of settling for off-balance shots inside, as well as converting his makeable looks in the mid-range, Turner should boost his 13.3-point-per-game scoring average this year. 


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