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Why Not Take A Chance On Evan Turner?

Evan Turner hasn't exactly performed like a No. 2 overall pick in his first four NBA seasons, but is there still hope for him? If there's even a glimmer, the Celtics should give Turner a chance.

These two Buckeyes are together again.
These two Buckeyes are together again.
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Late September, as training camp approaches and the beginning of the season lies just around the corner, is the ideal time to begin discussing what type of talent the Celtics have on their roster and what they can expect from their guys this year. Picks and prognostications always abound, on this player and that player and the next.

With Evan Turner, though, it's tough. I don't really know what to expect from the fifth-year wingman the Celtics signed this summer. Neither do you. Neither, I suspect, does anyone else.

I think that's kind of the point.

Consider Turner's pedigree for a second. He was an all-state player in high school in Illinois, a national collegiate player of the year at Ohio State and a No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft in 2010. Guys like that are usually fast-tracked for eight-figure contracts and starring roles. They're given numerous chances to succeed. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Durant were No. 2 picks; no general manager wants to miss out on the next LMA or KD. Generally, when there's a guy of that stature who's anywhere near NBA success, there are teams lining up to take a chance on him.

With Turner, I somehow doubt the line was very long. Which is how he ended up here, in Boston, where minutes won't be guaranteed and the team is standing outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture and looking in. It's a strange destination for Turner - instead of stardom and millions, he's playing a bit part on the Celtics' bench for a modest paycheck that's rumored to eat up just a piece of the team's mid-level exception.

If Turner were a more desirable player right now, someone else would have given him a bigger role and more money. But how did we get here? Turner's first four seasons were a disappointing mash-up of empty stats, chemistry questions and a whole lot of losing. Don't let the 17.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists from his final half-season on Philadelphia deceive you - he was never a productive NBA player with the 76ers. The turnovers, the bad shots and the defensive lapses tell the real story, as does Turner's PER - 12.0 for his career, with not a single season above the league average of 15. Then there are all the questions about what in the world happened to the Indiana Pacers last season once Turner arrived there at the trade deadline. Lord knows.

If Turner were better, someone else would have taken him. But no one did, because no one wanted to take the risk.

Enter Danny Ainge, who loves risk.

Ainge has always been the type of GM who's willing to take a gamble. Whether it's a big trade, a questionable free agent signing or a draft reach, he's willing to swing for the fences, even if it means a few strikeouts. Sometimes that backfires - there are still fans in Boston bitter that Ainge shipped away Kendrick Perkins in the middle of a contending 2010-11 season and handed the keys to Shaquille O'Neal. But this isn't 2011 anymore. This is a new era in Boston, one in which the Celtics have nothing to lose.

So let's go for it. Let's try this Evan Turner thing out for a while, see how it goes. Again, we're talking about a college star and a No. 2 pick - he definitely has talent. Maybe Turner, who will be 26 by the start of the regular season, is just a very late bloomer. It's a long shot, but it's one the Celtics can afford to take.

As I see it, there are three possible ways this can pan out.

1. Turner is a revelation. Fast-forward to next spring, and we're toasting a Most Improved Player award-winner, not to mention Executive of the Year for Ainge.

2. Turner slightly overperforms for a couple of months, and Ainge seizes upon his newfound asset in January, trading him for something useful down the road. (Remember: This is the same guy who turned the virtually worthless Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks into two draft picks. Two.)

3. Turner busts. So what? Only cost you a roster spot and a couple of million bucks. Life goes on.

Of those three scenarios, you may think that #3 is the most likely, and that's fine. I may in fact agree with you. But we're talking about a high-upside move, one that makes a lot of sense for a rebuilding team, and hey. Even that third outcome is no catastrophe.

So let's roll the dice, kick the tires, whatever cliche you like. Let's see what Turner can do. Worst comes to worst, the experiment fails and we're back on the market for a new mediocre No. 2 pick next summer. Say, anyone got a line on Derrick Williams' agent?

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