The Portland Trail Blazers biggest move this offseason was the addition of utility player, Evan Turner. Turner in many circles has been labeled a bust. In his first few seasons I may have agreed to that, but if you were to watch him closely you will see the brilliance in his game.
Not everyone selected within the top 5 of their draft will be a 20 point scorer on a nightly basis but as an NBA player, on a 12-man roster, you must be able to contribute in other ways. The Philadelphia 76res were looking for him to be a savior, and that’s not who he is. He’s a basketball player that has a multitude of skills. The 76ers were not perfect for Turner. He needed a team around him. The Indiana Pacers was just a stop in the middle of the travel but his time with the Celtics was the turning point.
Turner is not the go-to-guy many would like him to be but what he provides in terms of production is the kind of player every team wishes they could draft. Last season, he averaged a modest 11 points, four assists, and four rebounds in 28 minutes, mostly off the bench. The Celtics did not look for him to score but with injuries hitting hard in 2015 they used Turner the same way the Blazers will this year.
How many teams can say they have a player that can play three different positions like it’s one? If Lillard needs a breather, he can take over at the point, if C.J. needs a spill or Aminu, Turner can fill in at either position. This year we will get to see him play starter minutes, and therein lies the problem for the rest of the NBA.
Versatility is a word used in NBA circles but the Blazers very well may be the most versatile team in the league. What Turner will bring to the table is a player capable of putting up a triple-double every night, ala, Draymond Green for the Warriors. Not saying Turner will become a regular at the All-Star game but he will be just as important for his team.
If Turner can improve on his perimeter game, 15 points per is not out of the question. Unlike most wing players he avoids the three-pointer and relies on his penetration and slashing skills to get his buckets. He still handles the ball like a PG and is willing to pass up a shot to get his teammates a better one. Turner is the definition of a team player in an era where that gets frowned upon. Turner is the player you want to go to war with, with the game on the line.
The money he received may have raised a few eyebrows but by the end of this season, that $70M may look like a bargain.