In the summer of 2014, the Boston Celtics signed Ohio State product Evan Turner to a 2-year deal, worth less than $7 million. The moved was perceived to be a low-risk, medium-reward proposition, and has paid off thus far.
Last year, Turner started 57 games for the Celtics, playing over 27 minutes per contest. That is the second-highest minutes average on the team, behind only Avery Bradley. Stevens placed his trust in the versatile forward, and he did not disappoint in his extensive floor time. For the season, ET posted averages of 9.5 points, 5.5 assists, and 5.1 rebounds, and played better-than-advertised defense, with a Defensive Rating of 104.
With the departure of Rondo, Turner was allowed to come into his own as a ball-handler. Leery of completely handing the reigns of the offense to rookie Marcus Smart, Brad Stevens gave ET the freedom to initiate the offense, giving the point-forward a freedom he had rarely been afforded. Put simply, Evan Turner needs the ball in his hands to be successful. During his stint with the Pacers, he was forced into the role of spot-up shooter, and absolutely floundered. He is at his best when he is penetrating and pulling up for a jumper, or forcing the help defense to commit and kicking to a teammate. He was given that freedom in Boston, and was able to maximize his talents.
Additionally, Turner was able to provide the Garden faithful with more than one instance of last-minute heroics, dropping buzzer-beaters to overcome both the Hawks and the Blazers.
In short, ET was brought to Boston on a cheap contract in the hope that he could produce, and he did. Given his minutes, on-court productivity, and his fit with the rest of the roster, he ended up being one of the better deals in the Association last year.
However, there is some doubt as to whether or not he will be given the same opportunities as he was last year. Part of his success stemmed from his freedom to handle the ball, given Marcus Smart's rookie status. Smart showed a notable amount of improvement in this year's summer league, particularly handling the pick-and-roll and attacking the rim. With Isaiah Thomas and Terry Rozier also on the roster, will Turner get any minutes as a ball handler? Additionally, Jae Crowder just signed a hefty contract with the C's. With him, Jonas Jerebko, RJ Hunter, James Young, and Perry Jones (as of now) on the roster, how many minutes could Turner get as a more traditional small forward?
Despite the logjam at his position(s), and despite his 42.9 FG%, Evan Turner will continue to be what he was last year in Boston; a talented player on a cheap contract who can make things happen with the ball in his hands. The only difference is that he now has a year's worth of Garden goodwill after showing how much of a difference he can make on the court.
All stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com