The Pacers haven’t been playing their best basketball as of late, and it is all Evan Turner’s fault.
Ok, it’s not really all his fault, but it is safe to say he hasn’t helped.
The Pacers were starting to slip from their early-season excellence before deadline day, but they certainly have gotten any better since they traded for Turner.
Indiana, who started the season 41-13 and on a mission to secure the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference, has gone only 12-10 since adding Turner and fellow former-Sixer Lavoy Allen. They don’t look like the same team that started the season as the NBA’s top team, and as of late they certainly don’t look like a true championship contender; something everyone assumed they were three months ago.
For the month of March, the Pacers averaged only 99 points per 100 positions; second-to-last in the league, behind only, yep, the struggling Sixers.
It is difficult to pinpoint a single reason for the struggle, as there are several; the offense has been extremely stagnant, the team has appeared tired after roaring out of the gate, and Paul George’s play has plateaued. There is plenty of blame to go around, and included in that blame is the trade for Turner.
After depth was targeted as an issue to address for Indiana, Turner was brought in to provide a bench boost, but he struggled fitting into a new system, and he has not been able to contribute consistently without the ball in his hands.
In 21 games off of the bench for Indiana, Turner has averaged 20 minutes of action, and only 6.9 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 40% from the floor.
That is a decent drop-off in production, considering that he was averaging 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game with the Sixers this season before the trade. Turner’s production in Philadelphia was predicated on the ball being in his hands. Without the same opportunity in Indiana, he has struggled and looked lost at times, forcing Coach Frank Vogel to make depth adjustments on the fly.
“Evan Turner hasn’t worked out, leaving Vogel to experiment in the last two weeks with a pile of sudden rotation changes,” Zach Lowe wrote in a recent article for Grantland.
"Hey, there’s Rasual Butler! Whoa! A Chris Copeland sighting! Wait, did Vogel just call a post-up for Copeland out of a timeout? Stephenson, West, and George have all entered and exited at different times than usual as Vogel struggles to rediscover a workable rotation."
Lowe’s observations demonstrate how Indiana’s depth has gone into disarray with Turner struggling to find his flow.
Not only has Turner been unable to produce for the Pacers, but his addition to the team also signified the subtraction of a popular Pacer.
Danny Granger, although past his playing prime, was an experienced, and popular presence in the locker room, and his trade from the team may have helped cripple their chemistry.
Paul George posted this to his Instagram account in regards to the Granger trade:
“On a serious note, upset day for me losing a big brother and mentor. Hate to see him leave us. You helped me so far along the way big bro! Still one of my toughest match-ups. Nothing but love for you Geezy!”
George and Granger had a close relationship, according to a report from Bleacher Report, and many of the players looked up to him as a locker room leader.
Not only has Turner’s on-court production in Indiana been under-whelming, he also does not have the same impact or influence in the locker room that Granger did.
The Pacers are headed to the playoffs, and there is still time for them to right the ship and get back to playing like they did at the start of the season. But, considering the return, and all that has transpired with the team since deadline day, you have to wonder if, given the opportunity, the Pacers would re-consider trading for Turner.