It’s 2013, we’re approaching the mid-way mark of the season, and the Sixers appear to be an average team vying for a low-seed in the playoffs. It’s easy to hope that the newly acquired Andrew Bynum will tip the scale and help the team ascend in the rankings in a weak conference. But Bynum was only recently cleared to ride a stationary bike, so I don’t anticipate he’ll be saving this season anytime soon.
Jrue Holiday has proved to be a solid first option for the team thus far, turning in career highs in points per game (18), assists per game (9), and PER (18.7). But anyone who watches this team play for more than five minutes quickly realizes that drop off in offensive production after that is pretty steep.
Take a quick glance at the team’s averages and you might think that secondary production could come from Thaddeus Young. He’s close to 15 points per game, getting most of those within 10 feet of the basket. But until he starts getting rewarded for that production by drawing more fouls than Holiday (3.5), he can’t be thought of as a secondary scorer. Let me note that personally, Thad is my favorite player, and there is plenty to love about his game. However, in terms of consistent offensive production, especially in half court sets, the team can’t rely on him for its points.
Enter Evan Turner. It’s well known that his broken jump shot has been a work in progress since entering the league. His points per game are up to 14 this year compared to last year’s nine. What’s disappointing is that this FG% has regressed from last season and currently sits at .433, dreadful for a starting NBA wing. He also tends to flat-out disappear during games, which is frustrating when Holiday is forced to drive and flail at the rim because no one else is open or hitting their shots. However, it’s not all bad. There is one key aspect in Turner’s game that has shown significant improvement: his three-point shooting.
Turner’s 3P% has nearly doubled since last season, hitting 42.6% of his shots beyond the arc. This has caused his TS% to rise this season despite his regression in FG%. This would indicate that his jump shot is indeed improving. The corner three has even been dubbed “Turnersville” by the Sixers’ broadcast team.
Despite his improvement in this area, Turner is only attempting two 3PT shots a game. That might be okay if he was hitting shots in the paint efficiently (he’s not), or if he wasn’t attempting so many deep two’s (he is), and he’s only hitting 36% of those.
Turner has taken noticeable strides in improving his game this year, and that’s certainly commendable. In fact, he is one of the top defensive rebounders in the Association. But on a team that has severe floor-spacing issues, whose shot selection mostly consists of deep two’s, Tuner needs to step back and fire the long ball.