It wasn’t supposed to be like this. No, not at all.
After Ohio State University superstar Evan Turner was taken by the Philadelphia 76ers second overall in last June’s NBA Draft, and the NBA schedule came out, I circled December 21st on the calendar, the date ET came home to face the Chicago Bulls. The Southside native who prepped with Illini point guard Demetri McCamey at St. Joseph in suburban Westchester, was going to start a professional game in his home town for the first time.
After sweeping all the national player of the year awards in college basketball, Turner looked to be on his way to becoming Philly’s franchise centerpiece. But after struggling in summer league, and getting off to a rough start in his rookie season, Turner now finds himself on the bench and hardly playing at all.
By Paul M. Banks
The team has played much better as Turner has seen decreased minutes. (Not saying correlation implies causation, but Philly has gone 9-6 since starting 2-10) And over the last three games combined, Turner played a grand total of 19 minutes, scored 5 points on 2-7 shooting.
In other words, if you think he’s going to put on a big show in front of his hometown basketball fans tonight, you’re probably sorely mistaken. He’s scored in single digits in five of his last six, his FG% has been abysmal during that span and his season numbers now read like this: 6.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 40.6 FG%, 1.8 Asst.
Although his NBA career has just started, his achievements as a #2 pick will begin to resemble Darko Milicic soon. That $12 million over 3 years is starting to look like a terrible ROI. He almost doesn’t deserve his nickname of “The Villain” any more.
I only hope for his sake that he gets it together, especially since Turner has shown a tendency to not handle public criticism very well. And he plays in a large city infamous for having an extremely harsh and critical fanbase.
I’ve witnessed first-hand as Turner whined to the media about Illini trash-talking him during the Big Ten tournament, and get rattled by trash talk again (this time from the Purdue Boilermakers Student Section Twitter account). He’s going to need to develop a very thick skin; and soon. Becoming mentally tough could be the first step in Turner’s development as a pro.
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank