Apr 28, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers bench (left to right) Donald Sloan, Ian Mahinmi, Evan Turner, Roy Hibbert, and Rasual Butler look on as they lose to the Atlanta Hawks in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Atlanta defeats Indiana 107-97. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Evan Turner Has No Place in the Pacers’ Playoff Rotation


Apr 28, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers bench (left to right) Donald Sloan, Ian Mahinmi, Evan Turner, Roy Hibbert, and Rasual Butler look on as they lose to the Atlanta Hawks in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Atlanta defeats Indiana 107-97. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 28, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers bench (left to right) Donald Sloan, Ian Mahinmi, Evan Turner, Roy Hibbert, and Rasual Butler look on as they lose to the Atlanta Hawks in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Atlanta defeats Indiana 107-97. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Fingers have been pointed in many different directions over the last two months as fans and writers have tried to diagnose the root of the Pacers’ problems. Roy Hibbert has been terrible until very recently. Lance Stephenson was playing selfishly. The Pacers’ chemistry was dealt a blow when Danny Granger was shipped out of town.

Of course, the truth probably resides in the combination of some or all of the above. But the Pacers have played better for most of the last four games and some of the old reasons appear to be fleeting. Hibbert has been better — dare I say back to normal? — since Game 2. Lance Stephenson has clearly been the motor of the team throughout the playoffs. And the last two games, the Pacers have actually looked like they’ve been having fun.

As problems seem to fix themselves, one glaring issue remains: the Pacers are getting very little from Evan Turner.

The numbers are stacked pretty heavily against the former Buckeye. Since he joined the squad, the Pacers have gone 20-17. In the playoffs, he’s been extra awful, posting a plus/minus of -58 in just 116 total minutes while the Pacers overall have gone +39. Indiana is 2-0 in games where he had DNP-CDs, and Turner has begun to rack up some Sam Young-esque vitriol from Indiana fans on social media.

It’s important to note that Danny Granger is currently offering next to nothing for the Los Angeles Clippers. Granger has 26 points since the beginning of April. Go back and read that last sentence again. He’s only connected on 2 of his last 18 shots, and Jared Dudley has replaced him in the rotation.

Larry Bird saw the writing on the wall with Danny Granger. He will almost certainly never return to even a shadow of the player he once was, and could even be out of the league soon. Still, the Legend had to hope that Turner would give the Pacers more than what he is currently offering.

No rotation player has a worse offensive rating than Evan Turner’s pitiful 88.6 in the playoffs. Defensively, he is also the worst at 112.3.

Both the eye test and base stats confirm that Turner is a superior player to Granger at this point in their respective careers. While Turner is a limited (and that’s being kind) defensive player and below-average outside shooter, his size, athleticism, and playmaking are still legitimate NBA skills. The problem is that Turner’s good attributes don’t necessarily translate to on-court success with this Pacer squad — especially in the playoffs when rotations tighten up and starters play extended minutes.

Turner has been the Pacers’ main on-floor creator in only five of his 116 playoff minutes. Per NBA.com, he’s played 71 minutes with Paul George handling playmaking responsibilities and 36 minutes with Lance taking the same role. In other words, for 111 of his 116 playoff minutes, Evan Turner has been asked to provide floor-spacing and action away from the ball for the Pacers’ offense. Turner, quite simply, isn’t that useful of a player in this role. Turner has only connected on 28 total corner threes on the season, while shooting less than 38% on one of the easiest shots in basketball. Defenses are perfectly content to sag off of him, killing the Pacers’ spacing.

Once you factor in his below average to awful “E Honda” defense, the result is a player that hurts his team at both ends of the floor. No rotation player has a worse offensive rating than Evan Turner’s pitiful 88.6 in the playoffs, according to NBA.com. Defensively, he is also the worst at 112.3.

For all of his issues, he’s not a bad playmaker. He can particularly score pretty well out of the pick and roll. Were Turner given the opportunity to lead a bench unit while both Paul George and Lance Stephenson rested, even for just 5 minutes a half, we may see something closer to his actual potential.

Another possible lineup that Turner could thrive in would be a “big” lineup where Turner, Stephenson, and George all played together. Realistically though, this would most likely only work if Turner could hide on a Shane Battier/Rashard Lewis-type defensively and both George Hill and CJ Watson were struggling or in foul trouble. Further, the lineup would only work well for Evan were Lance and Paul George to allow him run the point and work off the ball. Of course, completely reshuffling the offense just to put Evan Turner into a position to thrive probably wouldn’t be good for the Pacers on balance.

It’s important for Frank Vogel not to play him just because he’s there.

Many playoff teams only give legitimate postseason minutes to three backcourt players, and CJ Watson can space the floor better than Turner and is also a far better defensive player. Luis Scola is in a similar boat. If Hibbert continues to play the way he has since Wednesday, Vogel will most likely attempt to keep either he or David West on the floor as much as possible. Mahimni is a far better defensive player than Scola and will continue to see the lion’s share of backup minutes as long as foul trouble isn’t an issue.

Going forward, Vogel should consider shelving Turner completely, or only playing him for the 5 to 8 minutes a game when both Lance and Paul are resting. The spacing is just too poor to play him off the ball, especially when he’s playing with Lance Stephenson while George is on the bench. One has to think that in these lineups, Copeland would offer a much better alternative to Turner as he’s a far better floor spacer and can’t possibly be any worse defensively.

One can easily foresee a scenario in which Evan Turner is an effective basketball player again. In the future, he could even thrive for the Pacers were Lance to find another team this summer. Unfortunately for Turner, his opportunities just don’t exist in these playoffs, not when Paul George is averaging 42 minutes a game while Lance averages more than 35.

Tags: Evan Turner Featured Popular

  • Pacers24Colts12

    The worst lineup ever is when Watson/Turner/Lance/Scola/Ian are on the floor…Lance and Turner bog down the offense until 9 seconds are left…either take a shot, or pass it to Scola with 2 seconds left, and then he has to jack up an elbow jumper, lately resulting in a miss.

  • chandler droke

    turner is doing just fine you need to let him set him self he needs to get confterbol with the way we do things here in Indiana you got to remember he came her from the 76ers in mid season that’s not good on a player he has to reajust his game to a diff team and he putting in points then granger could just siting on the beanch we need a big player like ET I hated to see danny go that was my boy but shit happens he was hurt and not preducing so you just got to say see you later and bring in some one who can give us big points should I say ET com on now let play good ball and stop bitching

    • Benny Boy Claghorn

      holy shit, dude.

    • thecapulet

      Punctuation, motherfucker. USE IT.

  • Josh Baker

    If they are going to phase out Turner, I think it should be Rasual getting those minutes.

    • thecapulet

      Why? We needed Turner to score. Copeland is a far better spark off the bench than Butler is.

      • Josh Baker

        Turner and Copeland don’t play the same position. Having Copeland try to guard the man Turner normally does would be worse than Turner guarding him. And that’s really bad in the first place.

        Did you see Rasual chase Ray Allen around screens today? Sorry, but I don’t think Cope can do that.

        • thecapulet

          You might have a point, if Turner was successful at guarding anyone at all. There’s no way in hell cope would be worse than Turner on D, even if they were forced to match up against Chris Paul, or some crazy shit like that. Copeland has more spirit, which translates into more effort, which translates into better D. Turner is just a shelfish jackass that’s been too full of himself from day one because he got good minutes and garbage points on one of the shittiest teams in the league.

  • Syreeta McNeal

    You can tell this author is still on Granger. Turner proved his worth when after Stephenson got kicked out of the lineup, he scored against the Heat and help win the game during the regular season. Wizards game 4 game is just one game. That is why you are not a GM. You can’t judge a players worth based on one game. If that is the case, HIBBERT AND GEORGE HILL should have been gone a long time ago. Pacers turn the ball over too much. They need Turner who is big and stocky and can handle the ball when Miami Heat bring their pressure. Just relax and be thankful that the Pacers, through their adversity, are righting the ship. Bird knows what he is doing. Sometimes you have to make players better and quit putting training wheels (like keep Granger who was making $16 million and not producing a lick) and have these players be professional and play based on their skill so they can win a championship.

    • Jonathan Washburn

      I feel like mentioning the fact that Granger has been terrible for the Clippers and Evan Turner is much better than him effectively proves I’m not still stuck on Granger.
      I also feel that mentioning the Pacers’ record since Turner joined the team as well as focusing on both his AND his team’s stats THROUGHOUT the playoffs shows that I wasn’t focusing on just one game.
      Thanks for your input, though!

      • Syreeta McNeal

        I get you on looking at the stats. But what is the problem with the Pacers (point guard play and ball handling). Turner is a better ball handler. There are off the court issues causing the dysfunction of the Pacers. It is over a woman, that is what the rumor is. If you look at how LBJ played when he discovered that his mother and Delonte West were having a sexual relationship during the playoffs against the Celtics, has an effect on any person regardless if they are a professional. Also, the Pacers are like the Rockets as Kenny stated on TNT. They have tons of potential and show it from time to time, but they don’t play like it on a consistent basis to be worthy. They talked the talk, now they have to learn to WALK THE WALK. Not just for part of the season, but even in the playoffs. Coach Vogel has to step up and coach. Sit these folks down (like last night the starters) if they are not giving the effort. You have to get the best out of folks. Pacers have been use to media hype and not learning to play with the hype and adversity. These pacers need to get over Granger. They need to grow up. Plain and simple. They have the tools and talent to make it, but they need to come together and stop this foolishness. It is embarrassing for fans who want competitive basketball. They are liked spoiled children. Hill to me WILL ALWAYS BE THE PROBLEM. Hill is the one who the rumor is attached to acting like his best buddy Tony Parker on off the court issues and scared to play. If this is your point guard, an insecure player who really is a bench player, then I can see why the Pacers are so inconsistent.