Court Vision: Is the writing on the wall for Philadelphia’s Evan Turner?
• Where many see Evan Turner and a new Sixers front office as a precarious fit, Andrew Unterberger wonders if their pairing could help Turner pull off a bounce-back season:
The common thought on ET–one shared by Zach Lowe of Grantland, who recently named Evan to his “All-Intriguing Team“–is that he’s a mistake of the old administration, and one that GM Sam Hinkie–far more concerned with the discovery of undervalued assets than the redemption of overvalued ones–will look to unload ASAP. If you believe the reports, Hinkie even tried to deal Turner once already, to the Suns on draft night for a mere low first-round pick, and the fact that the Suns may have turned that offer down should give you a sense of Evan’s current value around the league.
…But isn’t it possible that we’re all approaching this the wrong way? Maybe instead of looking at the many ways Turner’s efficiency woes mean he won’t fit in with the new Sixers administration, we should be looking at this as an opportunity for a talented offensive player–and Turner is still that, make no mistake–to finally be given the proper instruction and motivation to use his skills in an efficient way, as preached by two men in Brett Brown and Sam Hinkie who hail from perhaps the two franchises most praised in the entire sport for their ability to maximize player potential and minimize player failings. Isn’t it possible that the best is yet to come for ET, and that might be worth something to the Sixers more than trade value?
• The counterpoint: Of all the players who attempted 1,000 field goals or more last season, Turner ranked dead last in true shooting percentage. That’s a whole lot of room for improvement. John Schuhmann of NBA.com expands on Turner’s offensive limitations:
Turner had multiple issues offensively last season. First, he didn’t get to the line enough. His FTA Rate of 0.198 (FTA/FGA) ranked 131st of those 177 guys who took at least 500 shots from the field. Second, when he did get to the line, he was a below-average shooter (74 percent).
Third, Turner couldn’t finish at the basket. After shooting 60 percent in the restricted area over his first two seasons, he shot 49.4 percent in there last season, 228th among 236 players who attempted at least 100 restricted-area shots.
Finally, Turner didn’t take enough 3-pointers. Relative to league averages, Turner was a better mid-range shooter than he was a 3-point shooter. But his 3-pointers (1.09 points per attempt) were still worth much more than his mid-range shots (0.85), and he took more than three times as many mid-range shots as he did from behind the arc.
• A great sign from a young head coach: Admission that his first season’s efforts weren’t perfect, followed by earnest efforts to improve. It bodes well for the Magic that Jacque Vaughn is evaluating every phase of his performance, from in-game strategy down to practice structure.
• Reading too much into preseason output can be dicey, but TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott liked what he saw in one particular dimension of Anthony Davis’ offensive game:
Fascinating, though, is what happened when Davis went into quick-attack mode, catching and heading for the rim with a live dribble. That’s when defender Terrence Jones started to look helpless. Davis is long! And when he’s fully extended, it takes help defense to bother his shots, and that proved difficult for the Rockets to muster. Davis didn’t hit all night with his jumper, but on the drive he barely missed, hitting a couple of floaters, a memorable reverse and an old-fashioned running layup. Those made floaters — high-skill shots — can serve as the latest in a series of hints that Davis has a soft touch worth developing. Another: He finished last season making his last 17 free throws. No big deal in and of itself, but … nice.
Add to that Davis’ usual assortment of buckets-from-being-long-and-active (two alley-oops from Austin Rivers, an uncontested dunk off a shovel pass from Jason Smith, a putback dunk) and you have a the makings of a tidy offensive night with some promise.
• If you have some time to kill, try your luck at this exhaustive, 50-question quiz over the happenings of the NBA offseason. Some doozies in the mix even for those who follow the league’s workings closely.
• Over the last few seasons, we’ve seen increased incidence of the one-man press in the NBA — a tactic once thought to be a waste of energy and an invitation for defensive breakdown, but which makes for a fairly effective tactic. Zach Harper digs into the strategy (and its chief practitioners) for CBS Sports’ Eye on Basketball blog:
That’s where the strategy of full court pressure really can benefit a team. A lot of decent offensive systems take a little time to get moving and set up their options, but if you’ve essentially knocked 10 seconds of shot clock off before the offense even gets into their set then you’ve limited the amount of time they have to get a quality shot. This can cause the offense to rush their shot or play against the shot clock. That level of disruption over the stretch of a couple minutes can ruin the flow of an opposing team.
Finding the balance of when to unleash your prowling guard and when to hold him back at half court is key to utilizing this type of player. Not just anybody can pull off this role and it’s certainly not something you can do for 48 minutes of a game. You probably can’t even do it for half of a game, but you can find spurts throughout to change the pace and rhythm. It takes a special breed of defender to be willing to exert that energy over an entire court while still maintaining the balance and discipline necessary to be a pest.
• Grantland’s Zach Lowe broke down the NBA field as neatly as can be done: in a tiered system that affords teams more wiggle room than a straight ranking, as is deserved at this early stage.
• There are some very early (but very evident) differences in the way that Pistons head coach Maurice Cheeks and former Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank approached that particular post.