Yes, it’s only preseason. Yes, his time at the Pacers was underwhelming. But Evan Turner can play multiple positions and create for himself and his teammates. The former #2 pick was a solid player for a struggling 76ers team for the best part of 4 seasons. Unfortunately for Turner, the status of being taken as the second overall selection in the 2010 draft has often overshadowed his game.
As is often the case, it can be hard for players to produce their best efforts when representing a team in the midst of a rebuild – especially one as deep as Philadelphia have found themselves in. Coupling that with sharing minutes with All-Star guards, Turner was never able to find a high level of consistency with the 76ers, something he even acknowledges himself.
After warming the bench for Indiana in last season’s playoff run, Turner may have found a good fit here in Boston. As Brad Stevens likes to utilise the talents possessed by his players rather than pigeonhole them to certain positions, Turner’s versatility will be seen as a big strength this year, telling the Boston Herald
…when I played my first few years in Philadelphia we had unique players like Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala
There wasn’t much room for us all to do the same thing. Obviously there’s a big plan here, and in the end it’s going to pay off pretty well. I just think this is making the most out of my talents. Sometimes I’ve tried to go as an off-the-ball player, but I don’t think anyone is a genius if they put me in a corner and try to make me a catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter. Here they just play into each player’s strength and that’s about it.
This confidence and versatility is the reason to be excited by the 6’6” point guard/shooting guard/small forward from Ohio State. With Rajon Rondo sidelined yet again, the Celtics can take advantage of Turner’s ability to run the point. His sensible ball-handling skills and knowledge of delivering the right pass at the right time are bound to be on display. Together with his ability to create his own shot off the dribble, Turner could become a valuable asset to running the Celtics offense in Rondo’s absence.
Another underrated skill is his ability to rebound the ball from the guard position, while his length alone should worry opponents at both ends of the court. Given it’s only a small sample, his first two preseason games have produced averages of 12 points, 5 assists, and 7 rebounds from 26.5 minutes of action.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the Celtics rebuild may not lie with Rajon Rondo alone, but rather with 37 year old coach Brad Stevens. The man seems to get the best out of his players, and Evan Turner could very easily become the next cab off the rank.