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Evan Turner playing point guard for Pacers

Mar 3, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

Evan Turner, Chris Johnson

With starting point guard George Hill out injured the last two games, the Indiana Pacers have undertaken an interesting experiment: using Evan Turner at point guard.

Turner, a wing by trade, played point guard at Ohio State and dabbled at the position in Philadelphia. In Indiana, he was expected to take Danny Granger’s minutes as backup small forward. But Hill’s injury has afforded the Pacers to give him a longer look at point guard.

So far, the results have been extreme.

When backup point guard C.J. Watson and third-stringer Donald Sloan – each elevated a spot without Hill – are on the bench and Turner plays (via nbawowy):

  • Offensive rating: 95.2
  • Defensive rating: 76.2
  • Net rating: +19.0

In other words, with Turner at point guard, Indiana plays like the NBA’s worst offense, best defense and best team. Those lineups have played just 13 minutes, so major sample-size caveats apply, though.

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But we can still see the beginnings of a concept.

With Turner the designated one, Stephenson sometimes assumes point-guard duties when he grabs the defensive rebound. Stephenson does the same with Hill, but is maybe less prone to deferring to Turner.

The Pacers play at a plodding pace of 76.6, influenced by Turner’s presence on both ends of the ball.

On offense, the 6-foot-7 Turner is slower than a typical point guard and more measured in his attacks. He doesn’t really push the ball to create transition opportunities.

Defensively, opponents are flummoxed with Indiana’s taller lineups – often just passing the ball around the perimeter, afraid to throw an entry pass over or through the field of long arms. The number of long jumpers the Pacers have forced these last two games is in line with their season percentage – except when Turner plays point guard. Then, it skyrockets.

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Of course, these last two games – wins over the Celtics and Jazz – are unrepresentative in more ways than they’re representative. Those opponents are just far beneath average quality.

Before the Pacers’ schedule gets tougher into the playoffs, they need to know whether lineups with Turner at point guard can give them an edge. It’s an interesting process playing out as Indiana hits an otherwise relatively meaningless stretch run.

  1. timb12 - Mar 3, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    Wait so this was in 13 combined minutes against the Jazz and Celtics?

    • casualcommenter - Mar 3, 2014 at 12:21 PM

      Yeah…it’s way too early to even begin to try to draw any conclusions (positive or negative) on a new lineup based on just 13 minutes together….

      Two randomly missed 3 pointers instead being two made 3 pointers by pure chance could dramatically swing offensive rating upwards when the sample size is so small.

  2. chiadam - Mar 3, 2014 at 12:09 PM

    Evan Turner: NBA point guard.

    Sorry, I just had to see if that looks as absurd in print as it sounds in my head. Yep, it does.

  3. money2long - Mar 3, 2014 at 12:36 PM

    haha! i said the pacers would experiment with this when he was acquired ! where are the people who thumb’d me down !?

    • 00maltliquor - Mar 3, 2014 at 7:10 PM

      Kicking *butt and taking thumbs! lol!

    • money2long - Mar 3, 2014 at 8:52 PM

      hardheaded brats !

  4. sixerstrong - Mar 3, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    “On offense, the 6-foot-7 Turner is slower than a typical point guard and more measured in his attacks. He doesn’t really push the ball to create transition opportunities.”

    That is a really, REALLY nice way of saying he’s a ball hog who dribbles first, shoots second, and passes never.

    • metalhead65 - Mar 3, 2014 at 6:37 PM

      the 76’s suck! he is with ar eal time where he can display all his skills now notbe the only the only guy on the team that has todo it all. have in the lottry the next 5 years while enjoys winning withthe pacers.

      • sixerstrong - Mar 3, 2014 at 6:55 PM

        Have at it buddy. Him and Bynum are going to kill your squad. It’s too bad, I really liked what they had going.

  5. tcclark - Mar 3, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    I’ve been suggesting Turner gets time at the one ever since his rookie year didn’t go as planned. He was really passive his first couple of years and always looked to set up other players. On a team like Indiana he doesn’t need to be the scorer so he can be more passive and only score when he’s needed. At 6’7 he is a match-up issue for other teams and having a guy that can pass, dribble, and rebound is always nice at the point. Just see how it works and if it doesn’t there’s really no harm done.

  6. irvfin3 - Mar 3, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    Why don’t they put Turner as a SG and Stephenson as a PG because Stephenson actually gets a good amount of assists and is faster

  7. progress2011 - Mar 3, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    ” as Indiana hits an otherwise relatively meaningless stretch run”

    Is this a type-o !

    With Indy running neck and neck with the Heat for home court advantage….if they have meaningless stretch runs, I’m CERTAIN Miami is happy about that.

  8. muhangis - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:39 AM

    The analyses explains alot, but I guess we are just waiting on a bigger sample. I think Evan Turner makes more sense simply from only a depth stand point. Let’s get over the fact that he was drafted #2 overall (when he nowhere deserved to be) and realize that he’s in his 4th year in the NBA (25 years old) at a prime age, and his talents are what they are. He’s not a point guard, his quality serves as a backup shooting guard.

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