“You’ve gotta respect a 15-percent 3-point shooter. A guy like that is always lethal.” – Evan Turner
Respect? 15% shooting? You can be sure that quote’s not appearing on any NBA coach’s pregame pep talk, anytime soon.
There’s no question about this: no one, I repeat, no one on the Boston Celtics this season, is more quotable than The (unofficial) Logo, Evan Turner himself.
Entertaining quotes aside, Turner has definitely made his mark on the season so far. Sixth on the Celtics in scoring, fourth in rebounding, and second in assists per game, he’s been a veritable Swiss army knife who can do everything and anything.
Despite these (the performance, not the quotes), Bobby Manning recently wrote a thought piece on CelticsBlog, suggesting that the Celtics would be best served in letting Turner go in the off-season.
That’s rather controversial. Over at Celtics Down Under, we look at it from the opposite perspective. Why should ET be allowed to leave, when he has undoubtedly been one of the best pieces acquired in this post-Big Three era?
First off, let’s address the issue of growth. Marcus Smart might be the future, and he is surely developing nicely, but we know it – Smart just isn’t ready. Are we ready to scuttle the team’s chemistry next season, leave a gaping hole in the rotation and move backwards while allowing Smart the massive developmental minutes he needs to grow rapidly?
When it comes to defense, Smart’s more than proven himself over and over again, with timely plays and big moments. He hasn’t really delivered as a ball distributor, not quite yet. There’s no question Turner’s the better ball handler, right now.
Smart is currently playing 27.1 minutes, a hair less than Turner’s 27.3. Are we really, really prepared to let Smart (plus Young or Hunter up the rotation) and soak ET’s minutes up, while sending Turner riding off into the sunset?
Is that the “next step forward”, logically speaking?
I’m not certain we’re ready to let Turner go, right now, all for the sake of development. The team is slowly coming together and is ready to take a step up – we need to move forward into the championship conversation, not take another step back.
Until Smart proves himself capable of taking the reins over from Turner, it looks like a case of fixing what’s not broken.
Turner’s indispensable tools
Brandon puts his argument forward in a logical manner.
“If the Celtics have a similar team next season, they would be best served resigning Evan Turner: an impactful team player who has one of the best mid-range shots in the league, & can get to the basket with an arsenal of ball handling moves.”
He may not look like it, but Turner has been an elite and rather sneaky distributor. His playmaking allows him to get to the rim, and in turn serve his open teammates the ball at the most unexpected moments.
“Coming off the bench, he is arguably having one of his most impactful seasons,” Brandon suggests. “Since coming to Boston, he has set a career-high in assists per game; last season he averaged 5.5 APG, breaking his previous best of 4.3 APG in the 2012-13 season.
Turner is averaging 4.4 assists a game this season. He has 289 total assists on the season through 65 games, where he has only started 4 of them. Evan is also ranked 26th in total assists in the entire NBA, a league best for a player off the bench.”
Michael also agrees on Turner’s passing, and calls it “criminally underrated” –a rather fitting description, considering how little noise it’s made outside of Boston fans– and goes on to talk about the level of trust he gives not only the fans, but likely his team on the floor.
“ET brings with him a level of assurance when he enters the game. While Marcus Smart is also capable of handling point guard duties when Isaiah Thomas is resting, I believe [Smart] still has some developing to do offensively over the next season or two.”
Make no mistake, coach Stevens has agreed on Turner’s importance recently too, after his clutch save during the Knicks game.
“I think Evan Turner’s been really good since he’s been here,” Stevens said recently. “The thing I’ve said all along is he’s a jack of all trades. He does a lot of good things for our team.”
“He’s figured out our system. He’s figured out where his spots are. He’s always been a confident person as far as playing the game. We’re asking him to do a whole heckuva lot. The thing about Evan is he’s always doing it with the intent of helping your team, so that’s the best thing I can say probably.”
“Finally, Turner’s confidence comes to the fore down the stretch. In close games, it’s significant having a player who can create his own shot off the dribble.
Time and again this season, Turner has made clutch baskets to score a go-ahead bucket or tie up the game. This is something the team has lacked since the departure of Paul Pierce and co. – you can never have too many finishers on your team!”
Hayley’s also on board with Turner’s well-balanced arsenal of skills, and it’s hard to imagine getting a replacement for someone of his caliber, should he leave.
“ET is Boston’s Mr Do It All. He gives Brad Stevens flexibility in his line-ups, and with his height he is a match-up nightmare for small guards.
What I enjoy most about Turner, is the fact that he knows his strengths and works with them. When he is in the lane or pulling up for mid-range jumpers I have faith that his shot will go in, no matter how may dribbles it takes.”
Need evidence? Hayley points to a rather interesting statistic.
“Turner is the only player on the Celtics that is averaging at least 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game. This truly showcases ET’s worth to the Celtics.”
Free agency matters
Dave, who’s always ready to take a clear-eyed view on the bigger picture, agrees to a roster with Turner in all but the most positive situation: if the chance to nab a star player presents itself.
“Turner has been an integral part of the Celtics’ success this season as he has come up big, time after time. Having said that, I do not think we should keep him should the below were to eventuate:
For starters, if the very quiet rumblings of KD to Boston come to fruition (so what if I’m a dreamer?), then something has got to give cap-wise.
As much as I have enjoyed our team this season, I wouldn’t hesitate in letting ET and some of the non-guaranteed contacts go to make room.
Secondly, if the Celtics get lucky in the draft with the Brooklyn pick (they are well overdue!) and select Ben Simmons, then they would have to look at developing him – which would certainly mean that Turner’s minutes would be effectively cut.”
The final piece of the puzzle of course, comes down to money; namely, Turner’s upcoming free agency.
“Lastly, it simply comes down to money. If Danny can get ET to resign at a cap-friendly contract, say 3 years for $20 million, especially with the cap rising, then that has to be done. If he gets an offer from another team for $10m+ per year?
Evan, it’s been great knowing you, and good luck!”