May 5, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Evan Turner (12) takes a shot against Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) in game one of the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Washington won 102-96. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

How Evan Turner Can Contribute Against The Heat

The Evan Turner experience has been a bust. He was brought in three months ago to create shots for himself and others off the dribble for a bench that is filled with standstill shooters. Turner had some moments of shine during the regular season but that was overshadowed by porous defense, limited range and lots of turnovers.

His stats were inflated by Philadelphia’s up-tempo style, but I don’t think Larry Bird anticipated a dip in production this large. He hasn’t produced anything worth noting in the playoffs. He was a sieve against Atlanta and Washington. Before going into what he can do against Miami, let’s take a look at some metrics from the regular season.

[Disclosure: I'm imagining in Game 1 Turner getting steamrolled by a washed up Rashard Lewis and Shane Battier. Copeland replaces him. Now laugh at this article.]

Screenshot 2014-05-17 00.40.27

Evan Turner played 54 games with Philadelphia and 27 with Indiana. Immediately you can see that his points per game and efficiency drop. Points per game is an easy explain — Turner isn’t going to steal minutes from players (Lance Stephenson and Paul George) that are better at every facet basketball.

It’s interesting that fewer minutes per game for Turner means lower shooting percentages. His effective field goal percentage is about the same but his true shooting drops a decent amount with Indiana. With fewer minutes, rather than being efficient and selective with his shots, he remains wildly inaccurate, with a shooting percentages well below league average.

More statistics during the regular season below.

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For reference, turnover percentage is the amount of turnovers per 100 plays and usage percentage is the percentage of plays used by a player while he was on the court. Turner is less efficient shooting two pointers with Indiana and turns the ball over just as much as he did in Philadelphia despite having the ball in his hands less. That’s bad. Really bad.

Basically every on and off court metric for the regular season and playoffs displays he’s a minus player. There isn’t one metric that defends him.

So what advantage could he have Miami?

I’ll state the obvious: Turner has no business being in the game if Wade, James or even Allen are in. Each will abuse and torment Turner with their set of skills. If Beasley plays, don’t match Turner with him either. Let’s meet Miami’s reserve players that he could have an advantage against: James Jones, Shane Battier, and Rashard Lewis.

I can score on James Jones. He’s has a pretty good three-pointer but that’s it. He isn’t going to hurt a team off the dribble, cutting to the rim or on the glass. Just stick with him as he roams around the arc. You can run him off the three-point line and he’ll hand you a free turnover. Or a missed dunk. During the Nets series, James Jones consistently looked lost defending in space and gave up points whenever he matched up with Paul Pierce or Joe Johnson. Turner is not as crafty and competent at shot making as those two, but Turner has a big body and can post-up Jones. Try to draw fouls on him, too. Sprinkle in a cut here or there and he can catch Jones sleeping.

Feels not to long ago Rashard Lewis was a contributor to that 2009 Orlando Magic team. It’s 2014 now and he’s washed up. Lewis is essentially James Jones at this point in his career except he’s taller and can put the ball on the floor once or twice without traveling. He’s a “three point shooter” but is only converting 20 percent of those shots in the playoffs. On defense, Turner can comfortably rotate and help, only worrying about closing out on Lewis’s three-point attempts. Lewis can guard offensively challenged forwards but Turner isn’t that. He is quicker and craftier than him in the half-court.

Shane Battier is retiring after this year and that’s a good thing for the Miami Heat’s future. He’s no longer an above average three-point shooter, just an average one. Defenses no longer respect his range and want him to put the ball on the floor after closeouts. Like Jones and Lewis, Battier can’t do anything off the ball. He’s a standstill. Turner should have no trouble matching up with him. In 2014, Shane Battier is an ordinary defender and doesn’t have the lateral quickness he once had. His impact has been minimal — Battier has a 6.7 playoff PER. I don’t think Indiana should draw up 1-on-1 situations between these two but Turner should be comfortable attempting to drive past him.

Against Miami on March 26th, Evan Turner scored two buckets late that helped push Indiana to a 84-83 win. He scored 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting over 21 minutes.

evan turner 1

Here Turner gets a steal and uses a hesitation dribble to create separation from Rashard Lewis. He finishes the layup in transition.

evan turner 2If the scenario above happens, Turner should be able to take advantage of it. Mario Chalmers is 6-foot-1, 190 pounds and has no chance against Turner’s size. Norris Cole is on the court, too, who is about the same size as Chalmers. The Cole-Chalmers lineup is another way to use Turner. Neither can defend him in the post or off the dribble. It could get ugly on defense for Turner if Miami decides to use one of those in pick-and-rolls.

His minute limit should be amount of the time one of those three players are on the floor. And that shouldn’t be many seeing that Miami is going match Indiana’s big lineups. Shane Battier is playing 15.8 minutes per playoff game and declining. James Jones is averaging 12.4 minutes and declining. Rashard Lewis is averaging 11.6 minutes and declining. Udonis Haslem is taking their minutes.

This is could be the last playoff series Evan Turner plays in a Indiana Pacer uniform. The journey was disappointing and ugly, but let’s see if Turner can create a spark in this series. But another likely scenario is him getting steamrolled and Vogel replacing him with Copeland. We’ll have to wait.

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