Playing GM part 3.

          This is the third, of a four part post stating my draft and free agency recommendations for the Pacers during this offseason. If you are interested, check out Part 1 and Part 2.

1st Round – Pick no. 4(ish)

Evan Turner   –    Ohio State   –   6′7″     205 lbs.   –   SG/PG

            This was the most difficult pick to decide on, and I am sure it will be for Larry and Co. as well. First, let me say that I don’t actually think Evan Turner will be available at the fourth pick. The Pacers currently have the 4th worst record in the league. My position, is that whatever happens Turner should be their #1 target. Ideally, we will get lucky in the lottery and end up with the 1st or 2nd pick. If not then we should aggressively pursue a trade to move up, using our 1st rounder, wherever it falls, and the expirings of Foster, Murphy, Dunleavy or Ford. They aren’t Splenda, but Rush and Solomon Jones could be used to “sweeten” the deal. I will certainly not complain if we end up with John Wall or Derrick Favors, but for me, Turner is the guy. Turner has been thoroughly discussed and evaluated, celebrated and honored, glorified and drooled over, since the season began. I certainly don’t have anything new to add to from a scouting standpoint, but I would like to recap some highlights. Here is what Draftexpress.com lists as Turner’s strengths:

  • Ability to play at different speeds
  • Excellent skill-level
  • Mid-range game
  • Offensive creativity
  • Pick and roll play
  • Point Forward
  • Transition play
  • Versatility
  • Ability to create own shot
  • Change of gears/Hesitation moves
  • Commitment to playing defense
  • Defensive awareness
  • Defensive fundamentals
  • Versatility to defend multiple positions
  • Aggressiveness
  • Basketball IQ
  • Coachable
  • Experience
  • Potential
  • Unselfishness
  • Winning mentality
  • High-level productivity
  • Ability to create for others
  • Court vision
  • Body control
  • Coordination
  • Fluidity
  • Low Center of Gravity
  • Size for position
  • Solid frame
  • Excellent rebounder
  • Mid-range Jumper

         A pretty impressive list. I bolded and italicized the ones that seem to be weaknesses of the current Pacers roster, or ones that should be big assests as a rookie in the NBA. (For readers unfamiliar with my particular brand of subtlety – I realize they are ALL bolded and italicized. That’s kind of the point.) Also from Draftexpress.com, here are his weaknesses:

  •  Turnover prone
  • Average explosiveness
  • Plays below the rim
  • 3-point range
  • 3-point shooting percentages
  • Limited number of 3-point attempts

        An impressively short list, especially when you consider that #2 + #3 essentially say the same thing, and so do #4 + #5 + #6. There are really only 3 things on this list. Turnover prone, average athleticism and not a great 3-Point shooter. I bolded and italicized the one that I think will actually be a benefit to the Pacers. The last thing we need to add to our roster is another sub-par shooter, to jack up contested jumpers. Let’s take a look at some of his numbers for this year and last:

  Pts/40 Reb/40 Ast/40 Blk/40 Stl/40 TO/40 PF/40
08/09 20.8 8.5 4.8 1.0 2.1 4.2 3.5
09/10 23.5 11.2 7.0 1.1 2.2 4.8 3.3

Incredible!

  FG% 2PT% 3PT% FT% eFG% TS%
08/09 50.3% 50.7% 44% 78.8% 52% 59%
09/10 53.8% 56.6% 28.6% 73% 55% 59%

Amazing!

  PER USG WS/40 P/Pos A/TO A/POS A/FGA
08/09 25.7 25.7% 9.4 1.07 1.12 0.24 0.34
09/10 32.0 28.1% 13.9 1.07 1.47 0.32 0.42

             This guy is a beast. He does absolutely everything on the floor and does it well. Everywhere you look there are eyepopping numbers. His 3Pt% is low, but he offsets that by averaging less than one attempt per game, and shooting an absurd 56.6% on 2PT’s! His turnover are higher than last year, but he still increased his assist rate when compared to turnovers, possessions used or field goals attempted. My perspective on this is that he decided to focus on his all-around game this year. He made it a point to pad those assist and rebounding numbers. Often this meant he was forcing passes, and looking for the home-run assist, as opposed to letting the offense flow a little more naturally. His PER is simply incredible for a guy who uses 28% of his teams possessions.

         Most would agree that the Pacers lineup has gaping holes at PF, SG and PG. Anyone really think Brandon Rush is the long term answer at shooting guard? Anyone really think we are competing for a championship with A.J. Price running the offense? Drafting Evan Turner gives us a chance to kill two birds with one stone. More details will follow in the fourth part of this post, but I see Evan Turner playing shooting guard for the Pacers. From this position he can handle the ball and facilitate the offense in much the same way Brandon Roy does for Portland, or Dwayne Wade does for Miami. (Probably more Roy than Wade). Turner is not going to play point guard in the NBA. He might fill that role offensively for a team, but he simply cannot contain guys like Chris Paul and Derrick Rose defensively. I see him handling the ball at the off-guard and being paired with a shooting point, someone similar to A.J. Price; only much, much, much, much better.

           To finish, let me explain why I think Turner has more value than some of the other players available. The first arguement against selecting Turner would be John Wall. My answer to those clamoring for Wall has four parts: Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury, Baron Davis, Steve Francis. These are four points guards taken in the first 10 picks of the draft. Each player was described as having elite offensive capabilities, and game changing athelticism, as has Wall. None of them has won a title. Outside of Iverson’s lone championship appearance, none have been particularly large contributers on great teams. Mostly they have put up great numbers for bad teams. They also all saw huge drop-offs in production when injuries or age took away their athletic edge. Ray Allen, Lamar Odom, and Richard Hamilton have all won championships. They also were drafted after Iverson and Marbury in Allen’s case, and after Davis and Francis in Odom and Hamilton’s case. They have all been huge contributers on championship teams, and they have done it with versatile skills, and basketball IQ, not athleticism. My point is not that John Wall won’t be a great player. My point is that his ability to lead a team to a championship is not a sure thing. You need all kinds of players, with all kinds of skills and abilities to make a truly great team. For me you take the play with the transcendent skill set, will and basketball IQ, before you take the player with the transcendent athleticism.

             Another difficult part about recommending Turner, is that this draft is so deep at the PF position, another huge need for the Pacers. Still, Turner is that good. In addition, the 2011 draft looks to have several terrific prospects at the PF position, including: Perry Jones (Commited to Baylor), Mason Plumlee (Duke), John Henson (UNC), JaMychal Green (Alabama), Chris Singleton (FSU), Arnett Moultrie (UTEP), Aaric Murray (LaSalle), Trey Thompson (UGA), JaJuan Johnson (Purdue), and Jeremy Tyler (dropped out of high school, was asked to leave his Israeli team, currently looking for a European contract, I know I just threw up a little in mouth to). That doesn’t even include the unheralded nobody, who will inevitably show up and rocket up the draft charts, a’la Hassan Whiteside. There is depth at PF in next year’s draft. There is no one with the refined skill set, versatility, and absolute will to win, of Evan Turner, available next year. We need him!

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Filed under 2010 Draft, College Basketball, Indiana Pacers, Statistical Analysis

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