Evan Turner has spent time sitting behind Andre Igoudala since the Philadelphia 76ers drafted him second overall two season ago. Igoudala made his first All Star team last season too, so despite Turner's overall improvement, his role was not really expected to change too much. That is until the Sixers dealt Andre to Denver last night, bringing back Bynum, and thrusting Turner into the starting line-up. A job he is expected to have all season now in Philly.
I spent time talking with Evan Turner back in July, and we spoke about his increased role during these past Playoffs. He said then, "I feel like I’m always ready, and whenever somebody puts that trust in me, that’s the most important thing they can give me."
While this move was obviously a huge coup for Philly in the sense that they landed Andrew Bynum during the prime of his career, for one season at least, it also represents an organizational trust in Turner as well. With good reason.
During 18 regular season games last year, Turner played 30 or more minutes. While averaging 9.4 points per game on the season, he upped that number to 14.8 during those nights of extended playing time. He opened their playoff series with Chicago by playing 30, 42, and 41 minutes respectively as well, and responded with 12, 19 and 16 points to help Philly eventually move on to the second round. In 13 total playoff games last year, he averaged 11.2 points in 34.5 minutes, to go along with collecting 7.5 rebounds per night.
Doug Collins has called Turner the best rebounding wing player in the NBA. During the regular season he grabbed 5.8 rebounds in 24.5 minutes of work. Through 143 games, Turner's per-36 minute stat-line reads 12.8 points and 7 rebounds. Last season in Philly, Andre Igoudala averaged 12.2 and 6.2 per-36. Next season those minutes will belong to Turner. If he simply maintains the level of output he's produced so far, there will not be much of a drop-off for Philly in the starting lineup with ET assuming that role. With that increased trust, there's a good chance he produces even more.
So while all the talk will surround Dwight, Andrew, and Andre over the next few days, with good reason, do not sleep on what all this means for Turner in Philly. He could be poised for a break-out year during his third season in the NBA. It appears the Sixers trust that is a real possibility.