Celtics Officially Add Former No. 2 Pick Turner
BOSTON – You’ve heard the rumors for weeks, and now it’s finally a reality: Evan Turner is a member of the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics announced on Monday that Turner, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 Draft, has officially signed with the team. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Turner joins a young and talented group of perimeter players that also features Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Jeff Green. He may have the most eclectic set of skills in the group.
Many people have a tainted view of Turner, simply because he was the No. 2 overall pick. The mental connotation with the No. 2 pick is that the player should become a superstar, which oftentimes is unfair.
Turner isn’t a superstar but he’s a darn good NBA player. Look at his body of work and you’ll find a guy who brings a lot to the table.
Turner is capable of putting the ball through the basket. He averaged 13.3 points per game during the 2012-13 season and bumped that number up to 17.4 PPG during 54 games with the 76ers last season. His final scoring average in 2013-14 was 14.0 PPG, but that number was skewed by his limited role with the Pacers after the trade deadline.
His offense is mostly predicated on taking the ball off the dribble. Turner is a shifty player who can create his own shot, which also leads to a lot of free throw attempts. His average of 3.2 free throw attempts per game last season ranked 11th in the NBA among small forwards. That’s going to be a welcome addition to this Celtics team, which ranked 27th in the league in free throw attempts per game a season ago.
The one thing that needs to improve with Turner’s scoring is his efficiency. He’s a high-usage player who has shot only 42.7 percent from the field during his career. Look for him to surpass that average this season while playing with Rondo, who’s arguably the best distributor in basketball.
Speaking of distributing, Turner’s passing skills have flown under the radar during his short career. This guy is a facilitator as much as anything else. He has ranked in the top six among NBA small forwards in assists per 48 minutes in each of the past three seasons.
Turner isn’t quite as good at rebounding as he is passing and scoring, but he’ll still contribute in that area. He has averaged at least 5.0 rebounds per game in each of the past three seasons, maxing out at 6.3 per game in 2012-13. He will immediately challenge Rondo for the title of best perimeter/wing rebounder on the team.
The area in which Turner will have no challengers in Boston is clutch performance. The Celtics know all too well that he is a player who makes big shots.
Turner beat the Celtics in the final four seconds of a game twice in his former teams’ last eight meetings with Boston. One came on Jan. 29 of last season, when he crossed up Jerryd Bayless and finished through contact in the paint for a game-winning runner at the buzzer. The other came on Dec. 7, 2012, when he nailed a game-winning jumper from the right elbow over Courtney Lee and Rondo. Turner also dropped in a go-ahead bucket in the final minute that led Philadelphia to a Game 2 win over the Celtics during the 2012 Playoffs.
If that’s not enough to prove how cool Turner is in the clutch, take a look at this: Turner was one of only 21 players in the league to score at least 14 points in the final 30 seconds of a one-possession game last season. He led that group by shooting 60 percent from the field, and he also shot 100 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line.
That, my friends, is clutch.
There’s no doubt that the Celtics are elated to add Turner’s clutch genes and eclectic skill set to their lineup. They didn’t allow that “second overall pick” connotation to cloud their minds. Instead, they saw what Turner really is – a very good player – and they went out and signed him.