Evan Turner always makes people wonder what he could have been. The former number-two pick by the Philadelphia 76ers showed major signs of promise after a three years at Ohio State University. However, his career never exactly panned out as planned. Matthew Valento has our previous entry in the series on Andrew Bynum here.
The Early Days
The Sixers struggles began in 2009, after posting a 27-55 record, securing the second pick in the draft behind the Washington Wizards. Turner played more of a bench role, only starting fourteen of seventy-eight games in his rookie season. Turner’s numbers didn’t blow people away, only averaging 7.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, and 2 apg.
The forwards circumstances seemed to be turning around in a lockout-shortened 2011-12 season. Turner was announced as a Rising Star challenge participant in the 2012 season. The Sixers also made the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs with an increase in Turners production.
Potential Begins to Fade
The 2013-14 season began with a bang for Turner, averaging a career-best 17.4 points, 6 boards, and 3.4 dimes a night. A mid-season trade to the Indiana Pacers resulted in a major drop-off in his stats however. Turner posted just 7 ppg, 3 rpg and under 2.5 apg in twenty-seven games with the Pacers.
Turner to Boston
The Boston Celtics decided to give the veteran swingman a shot in the offseason of 2014, signing him to a two-year contract. Turner would go on to play all eighty-two games, and posted a solid 14.5 ppg, 5 rpg, and a career-high 6.5 apg. Turner’s numbers saw a slim drop-off in 2015-16, however, to the tune of 10/5/4.5 a game.
Turner Signs With Portland
The Portland Trail Blazers agreed to a four-year contract with the wing in the offseason of 2016. Turner was mainly a reserve player behind Maurice Harkless for the Blazers starting small forward position to start off. Turner sustained a fractured finger on February 8th of 2017, costing him five to six weeks of the season. The former Buckeye’s numbers continued to freefall. Turner averaged around 9 ppg in 2016-2017 but saw his production decline steadily all the way to the 2018-2019 season where he was averaging a measly 7 ppg.
End of Career To Present
Turner was dealt to the Atlanta Hawks for Kent Bazemore in the offseason of 2019. Turner would only appear in nineteen games, posting 3.3 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists a game with the Hawks. The Chicago native would announce his retirement in the offseason of 2020. Turner is still open to playing in the NBA. Turner has been with the Celtics as an assistant coach in the last two seasons.
In the end, people are always left to wonder: what if? Turner had the potential to be a star forward in the NBA, flashing brilliant scoring ability and the potential to make a significant difference as a play-maker. Turner ultimately didn’t live up to the potential many expected of him, leaving that well dry and untapped.
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