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Spike Eskin: Success For Evan Turner A Matter Of Expectations

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By Spike Eskin

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – As history has shown, the #2 pick in the NBA draft is far from a guaranteed star. If anything, it’s more likely to be the opposite. For a third season, we’re watching Evan Turner, trying to decide which one he is.

Before we get to Turner, let’s consider the ten #2 picks prior to the Sixers selection in 2010:

Hasheem Thabeet, Michael Beasley, Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Alrdidge, Marvin Williams, Emeka Okafor, Darko Milicic, Jay Williams, Tyson Chandler and Stromile Swift.

Among them, I count five busts (Thabeet, Jay Williams, Okafor, Milicic, Swift), three stars (Chandler, Durant, Aldridge) and two somewhere in the middle (Marvin Williams, Beasley).

This is not to say that you shouldn’t be disappointed if ultimately Turner isn’t a star, just don’t be surprised.

We’ve watched Turner for two full seasons, another preseason, and three more regular season games. Evan Turner is not a star. The best way for Turner to avoid being a bust, is to concentrate on that in-between.

Turner as a star does not pass the eye test, nor does it pass the numbers test. It’s not a substantial sample size, but after a mostly disappointing first two seasons, Turner’s effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, PER, and points per game are all career lows. His turnovers are at a career high. Numbers aside, he looks terrible.

This is not “just three games,” this is two seasons and “just three games.”

He’s an outstanding rebounder, but beyond that, does not exhibit a particular skill that puts him a cut above the rest. He’s an adequate ball handler and defender and passer, and for the NBA seems to have average athleticism. He’s got the desire and willingness to be “the guy,” which is a nice trait to have, but does not have the skill to do it for a winning team.

Turer does a lot of things decently, but very few spectacularly. He’s in-between.

Once we accept who Turner is, it will be less frustrating to sit and wait for a breakout game from him. It’s time to stop waiting for that jump shot that is most likely never going to fall regularly.

It’s as important, if not more important, for Evan Turner to also accept what his role should be. The days of being “the man” at Ohio State need to be put in the rear view mirror. His apparent concern about a starting role, and its effect on his effort must be wiped away. And the belief that he can be the best player on a championship level team has to be checked.

No moping. No belief that you’ll be fine once you’ve got the ball in your hands more often. No more blaming anyone else on the court or off of it for failures. There are things that are Doug Collins’ fault, but this is not one of them.

When Andrew Bynum returns, Turner’s got to become the first guard off the bench.

His ball handling would be a welcome addition to a team who desperately needs it when Jrue Holiday is taking a breather. His rebounding will be a huge benefit to a team that will need it when Bynum is resting those aching knees. His ability to defend a few positions will be well served off the bench as well. Depending on the opponent, Turner would absolutely be a guy you could want on the floor at the end of a game.

With Bynum on the floor, it’s hard to not want as many shooters as possible right there with him. Dorell Wright fits that bill, and putting him next to Richardson and Holiday seems like a possibly deadly combination.

The versatile “glue guy” is a valuable thing to have in the NBA. Evan Turner could be that guy. The first step, is for both Turner, and us, to want and expect it.

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