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Friday, March 5th, 2010 at 1:54 pm  |  29 responses

Can Evan Turner Go No. 1?

Can the unthinkable happen?

by Jeff Fox

Let’s cut to the chase — can Ohio State’s Evan Turner leapfrog John Wall and become this year’s No. 1 pick? The quick answer would be ‘no’, but in the efforts to make this column longer than 40 words, let’s expand on that. While, at this point, Wall is still almost 100 percent certain to be the first named called by David Stern in June, the unthinkable is starting to happen. People are actually debating whether or not Turner would be the better choice at pick No. 1. While the suggestion of Turner going first overall is mostly being championed by bloggers or fans, and not NBA execs, it is still something worth digging deeper into.

At the very least, Turner seems to have the National Player of the Year awardsEvan Turner locked up this season — posting 20, 9 and 6 a night in a BCS conference will do that for you. And he also seems to have a solid lock on slot number two on all the mock drafts currently floating about on the internet. But why would a NBA team take Turner over Wall with the first overall pick? Here are a few reasons:

Experience

By the time the NBA draft rolls around, Evan Turner will have played about 70 more NCAA games than John Wall. Turner has gotten big minute in a very tough conference — the Big Ten — all three of his years in Columbus. While this has been beneficial for his skills development, it has also given him time to develop his basketball knowledge, leadership skills and toughness (he missed just six games after breaking his back while missing a dunk — at least he didn’t break his face like that Grizzlies fan). Just like the player he is most compared to — Brandon Roy — Turner should be ready to step right into the NBA and contribute immediately. While Wall should also be able to do the same, he will probably experience more early growing pains (especially playing point guard) than Turner will.

Versatility

John Wall is a point guard. He’s a damn good point guard, but he is strictly a point guard on the NBA level. Evan Turner, on the other hand, is Mr. Versatility. The 6-7 Turner would appear to be a shooting guard at the NBA level, but he has proven this year he is much more than that. With the Buckeyes devoid of any natural point guard talent this season, Turner stepped into the void and played the point — and done a remarkable job at it. Even more remarkable considering he was a power forward for the Buckeyes earlier in his career. While he is still probably a natural shooting guard in the NBA, a team could easily plug him in for minutes at point guard and small forward also.

Team Needs

While it is probably unwise for a team with the No. 1 overall pick to base their pick on their current team needs, rather than taking the best player available, that doesn’t necessarily stop NBA GMs from drafting based on need. So if a team has a franchise player already at point guard and need help on the wing, would they consider taking Turner over Wall? What if Minnesota gets the first overall pick? They have Jonny Flynn, having a stellar rookie season and capable of so much more in the future, already running point for them. Plus they also have the draft rights to that Spanish kid — Ricky somebody. Yet they are weak enough on the wing that players like Ryan Gomes and Damien Wilkins are getting major minutes. The only All-Star left on the New Jersey Nets roster is 27-year-old point guard Devin Harris. Do the Nets pick another point guard with the first overall pick or do they draft Turner to help out on the wing? While it is always wise for a team to pick the best player available, we’ve seen time and again that teams don’t always follow that advice.

More Complete Game

While John Wall definitely has more potential than Evan Turner, at this point in their basketball careers Turner is the more complete player. While neither guy is a very good outside shooter, Turner is a much better shooter overall, especially from mid-range. He’s also a far superior rebounder. In fact, when you compare Turner and Wall’s pace adjusted stats (per 40 minutes), Turner is superior to Wall in pretty much every category. Plus Ohio State has a higher strength of schedule ranking this season than Kentucky, so Turner has gone up against tougher competition.

In the end, the smart move is still to draft John Wall first overall. Players with superstar potential like he possesses don’t fall into your lap too often. But Evan Turner has ensured that the 2010 NBA Draft has more than one marquee player in it. So whichever team loses the lottery and ends up picking second, they’ll be getting one hell of a consolation prize.

Read more of Jeff Fox at The Hoops Manifesto (or, for mixed martial arts fans, The MMA Manifesto).

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  • http://www.slamonline.com/ niQ

    Very nice article. This is starting to sound quite familiar to the Oden/Durant debate. Both marquee players, but you already know who will be drafted first overall. Although Oden has been hampered by injuries, we all saw what he was capable of doing this season when healthy.

  • http://www.twitter.com/IamHagel IamHagel

    Jazz have the Knicks pick this year. If that turns into a lottery pick I can see them drafting turner to play guard opposite D-Wil, best PG in the league.

  • http://www.hoopsmanifesto.com Jeff Fox

    Right, good point about the Jazz – forgot all about them owning the Knicks pick.

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    A Dwill and Turner combo would be sick. THey’d be the best gaurd combo in the league at some point.

  • k

    wayno, I think you could say that about a ‘Reke – Turner combo, or if the ping pong balls went their way, a CP3 – Turner combo (although he’d probably move “back” to the 3 and they could deal Peja’s expiring contract during the season). All the sportswriters would be saying the best thing that ever happened to Chris Paul in the NBA was that torn meniscus.

  • Sporting-Lisbon-Blazers

    thank you niQ, Oden is 8th OVERALL in that PER ranking this season, ahead of Melo, Kob and Nowitzky for example, right after D12…while hes obviously no D12 or any of the other 3 for that matter, his a great paint protector and a bit dominant at times..just have to hope he gets healthy…about this Turner guy, he seems a cant miss thing, if Im the Nets or Wolves, unless im trading Harris or Flynn, im trading down and get Turner and some assets for the nº1 in Wall. Indiana could REALLY USE HIM

  • WALL 1,2 and 3

    Kentucky has 1st and 2nd pick with Wall and Cousins. Turner is a super player, but so was Terrence Williams at Louisville. 6’7″ wings are a dime a dozen in the leauge. Give me a PG or PF any day of the week.

  • steve

    While it’s fair to compare the two players in their current seasons, I think it is an important “side note” to compare their two freshman years as well. While undoubtedly a fantastic junior, Turner’s freshman year was a far cry from Wall’s freshman year. In fact, half the points and half the assists with a near equal rebounding stat. Also, if we are saying that Wall should be picked #1 based on talent and potential rather than team need or current stats, than I think we are overlooking a player that based on his freshman numbers could potentially go #2 over Turner. That’s Demarcus Cousins. Would I choose him over Turner? probably not but if potential is the factor, than I say Wall #1, Cousins #2 and Turner #3.

  • will

    Going by the RPI strength of schedule. UK has the 39th toguhest schedule and OSU has the 68th toughest, so UK has obviously played a tougher schedule. that is a bogus argument for Turner

  • Sam

    Turner gets his numbers because he is the focal point of his team. John is playing with two other lottery picks.

    I’m not trying to take anything away from Turner. I think he’s a stellar athlete. However, just blindly pushing him for POY b/c his stats are marginally better without considering the different role that each of the two must play is a bit absurd.

  • Corey

    The fact that this is a discussion makes it more clear than ever that WALL is BY FAR the man!

    Turner has been in D1 NCAA training for 3 years and given free reign to do whatever.

    John Wall just got out of High School!!!

    Turner is a great BB player in an advanced stage of development.

    John Wall is unique. A rare gem that doesn’t come around too often.

    Wall wins the #1 pick and player of the year in my book, hands down!!!

    Nuff said!!

  • http://deleted Tyler Whitcomb

    Very nice article!

  • Crow

    When you write something this dumb then it impacts the overall credibility of your magazine. John Wall is clearly an incredible talent while the NBA D-League is full of guys like Turner. For you to waste our time in seriously offing that some brain dead NBA Exec is going to pass on a 6-4 pg with blazing speed and freakish athleticism wrapped up in Jason Kidd’s skill set for a freaking 6’7″ dime-a-dozen “point forward” shows you don’t have a clue and probably can’t buy one, either.

  • Crow

    Stop censoring my posts just for calling it like it is. I didn’t post any profanity so let my post through.

  • Chuck

    Turner is DWade in another body. He slithers and changes direction like Wade, a great passer and competitor, doesn’t quite have the same body but he will make a terrific impact especially if one of his teammates is named Lebron. He can play 3 positions, Wall one and if it is a slightly slowdown offense, he will function perfectly. A very special player, but the Nets being the Nets will probably take Wall even though with Turner, James, Lopez and Devin Harris would make them one of the great turnaround teams next year.

  • Ken

    Enjoyed this. Good piece.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Good stuff Jeff.

  • GBaby

    Love the Ricky Who? reference

  • Sporting-Lisbon-Blazers

    @crow: youre an idiot dude. Wall may be great, im not disputing that for sure, but if you can draft a top 3 shooting guard a la Brandon Roy or top 5 like Joe Johnson, you might consider it. its not that strange to debate it..

  • http://slam t.o

    minnesota,new jersey sacremento and golden state already have young pgs i dont see them drafting wall

  • bnets

    @crow; you are wrong!!! this article is great to think about. Wall for sure is goin #1, Utah will grab him if Knicks do get da 1st pick and so would da Nets and G-State, but Evan Turner is worthy enough to be da #1 pick also I would not be surprise

  • http://hoopistani.blogspot.com Hoopistani

    well written article – this is definitely a point of debate

  • jim

    @niQ, hopefully your joking when you say Oden is better, KD35 actually, you know, scores

  • Jerrod

    1st I dont like it when I read these ridiculous comments from people who think they are smart/professionals, know everything about basketball, and are so cocky that they feel they can legitimately criticize a professional writer for a magazine whom is offering an opinion.

    Anyway John Wall is a top talent, and with the top pick any team is going to draft him regardless, because they have the opportunity to at worst trade him for needed talent. The Nets are in a position where they need to draft Turner, who is not a “dime a dozen player.” Turner is a remarkable talent with a high ceiling not to far off from Wall. If the Nets do not have the 1st pick they should definitely take Turner.

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  • Art.Vandelay

    I think a better comparison to Evan Turner than Brandon Roy would be a Pistons’ version of Grant Hill. Even so, he’s a better ball handler than Hill was. He gets a ton of rebounds and assists, and can obviously score whenever he needs to. He finishes well at the rim, but still has a solid mid-range game. Check out Hill’s stats his last 3 or 4 years with the Pistons. He and Turner are almost the same player. Don’t be surprised if Turner has a season of something like 27ppg, 8apg, and 9rpg. He’s a great complimentary player, but can also be the main guy. He needs to learn how to play without the ball and improve his outside shot, then he’d be unstoppable. Wall should, and likely will be the #1 pick, but Turner should be the #1 pick most years.

  • Alec

    First of all, whoever said ODEN is on par with Durant is not credible, at all. Durant haha is the truth and was a better college player than wall or turner. Plus when it comes to strength of schedule, I dont care bout the RPI, the SEC is garbage compared to The BIG EAST , THE BIG 12, THe ACC and the BIG 10… Plus some freshmen like Avery Bradley are more complete but they play less minutes in a tougher conference. Derrick Favors regrdless of stats is a manimal and everybody truly knows that without DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky would be a mediocre team.

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