Coming into the season, the plan for Evan Turner seemed to be understood. Turner’s job was to pile on the points per game, and show that he could be a viable offensive option, in turn increasing his trade value while the Philadelphia 76ers struggled through the season.
The problem is the Sixers aren’t struggling, at all. In the beginning of the season, the idea of the Sixers making the playoffs was a laughable one. But they have too much heart to tank. And now after nine games, the possibility of a playoff appearance isn’t such a stretch.
With their 123-117 win over the Houston Rockets, the Sixers are now one of just three teams in the Eastern Conference with a winning record. The early season success is a surprise to everyone outside of the Sixers locker room, and has backup guard Tony Wroten thinking playoffs.
On a side note Wroten registered a triple-double with 18 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in the win Wednesday night against the Huston Rockets. Starting for an injured Michael Carter-Williams, Wroten became the first player since 1970 to register a triple-double in his first career start.
With the Sixers not really struggling, it is safe to say that the plan for Turner is working well to this point. Turner has improved upon his consistency and efficiency, and is currently a top ten scorer in the NBA. His 23 points per game puts him right between Carmelo Anthony and Monta Ellis. Go figure.
He has made a concerted effort to attack the rim, rather than just settle for jumpers as he often did under Coach Doug Collins. Turner currently leads the NBA in total points scored on drives to the basket, and is averaging a career high 5.6 free throw attempts a game. Even with that improvement aside, he is also shooting a career high 49% from the field, and pulling down six boards per game. So what should the Sixers do with Evan Turner?
Turner has done his job, playing the best basketball of his young career, especially on the offensive end. If trading Turner is still on the table, Sixers GM Sam Hinke should start exploring some of those options, while Turner still has a hot hand.
Heading into the season, the majority wanted Turner out of town. However, his solid play to start the season has caused many to reposition their stance on trading, feeling that he could be part of the foundation going forward after seeing him explode offensively.
It is unfortunate that it took Turner this long to start to produce up to the level of his potential, as he may have developed into a productive player earlier in his career had he not been hampered by Collins’ coaching. But, the fact of the matter is that he didn’t make a big enough impression during his first three seasons to warrant a long-term commitment.
Now with the decision at hand, the Sixers have to decide if his contract is worth the extention, but there hasn’t been any talk of this in the past month. The more likely scenario is that he will be off of the Sixers’ payroll once free agency begins next summer, and with interest increasing, the Sixers should look to get something in return.
If the Sixers are going to make a move, now may be the time to start looking around the league for the best available offer, far away from deadline desperation, while Turner continues to play premier basketball in Brett Brown’s stat-friendly system.