Pregame Post-Ups: Turner Claims Stevens Revitalized his Career
Saturday, January 21 - Trail Blazers at Celtics
Pregame – Turner Claims Stevens Revitalized his Career
BOSTON – Evan Turner’s first four seasons in the NBA were challenging, to say the least, as he struggled to find his place in the league.
He bounced from Philadelphia to Indiana, but he was unable to live out his potential at either destination.
Then, Turner made a career-altering move during the summer of 2014 when he signed with the Boston Celtics and completely revitalized himself as a player.
The swingman thrived during his two seasons in a Celtics uniform, mostly because Brad Stevens allowed him to be himself on the court.
Turner acted as the team’s jack-of-all-trades; he was Boston’s most versatile player during those two seasons as he could run the point, play the 2 and the 3, and guard positions 1 through 3 on the other end of the court.
When Turner’s versatility surfaced, other teams began to gain interest. It allowed him to earn a megadeal from Portland this past summer when he hit free agency.
On Tuesday evening, Turner will make his first return to TD Garden with his new team, but he doesn’t forget the role that Stevens and the Celtics played in helping to re-energize his career.
“I just think he put me in position to be successful,” Turner said of Stevens ahead of the 5 p.m. tip-off. “He definitely helped me a out a lot and I think he did that with a lot of my teammates as well, and that’s a big deal.
“His mentality definitely helped me learn how to be a pro and how to see the bigger picture point of view.”
Turner’s time in Boston was mutually beneficial for himself and the franchise. His veteran presence had a great impact in regard to speeding up Boston’s rebuild, and he perfectly fit the mold of Stevens’ ideal type of player.
“I thought Evan did a great job of representing what we want out of our guys,” said Stevens. “He had a great passion for the game. He worked really hard to get a lot better. He didn’t care with regard to starting, coming off the bench, whatever the case may be; he just wanted to help the team in any way that he could. And I think everybody valued him as a great teammate and a guy who made us better.”
Now, Turner is attempting to have a similar impact in Portland. His numbers have gone down slightly this season – he’s averaging 9.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game, compared to the 10.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 5.0 APG he averaged during two seasons in Boston. But, as Blazers’ coach Terry Stotts points out, it takes time for a player to adjust to a new system.
“It’s not easy coming into a new situation where everybody (has been here) and finding your way and not wanting to disrupt whatever was going on before,” said Stotts. “I use the example the previous year of when Gerald Henderson and Moe Harkless were new to the team and it was January before either one of them felt comfortable and found their groove. So I think people expecting immediate assimilation to a group, it’s not that easy.”
Turner is enjoying the process so far, though he admits that he misses the unique environment in Boston.
“We had a great team,” said Turner. “We had a great chemistry amongst our team … I definitely appreciate that the most.
“And playing at the Garden was dope, man. Putting on the jersey was definitely dope, and you don’t take that for granted. [Boston] isn’t like a normal franchise – sellouts and all that stuff – you don’t take that for granted, so I definitely miss that.”
Tonight will be Turner’s only chance this season to experience the beloved TD Garden atmosphere, so he’ll surely be soaking in his return to the parquet.
- Taylor C. Snow