Everyone, please remain calm and refrain from any sudden movements or loud noises – Evan Turner has found a groove.
I ask for your cooperation in not disturbing Turner because there have been too many times in his brief career that he has appeared to be on the verge of a breakout, only to suddenly lose whatever momentum he had established.
Given that history, it’s understandable to worry that the whole thing could collapse at any given moment. But this time, there are signs that the 2010 No. 2 overall pick may be ready to stay in The Productive Zone all season long. Consider the following:
A) Turner has scored in double figures in seven consecutive games (and 11 of 15 games overall this season), the longest streak of his career;
B) Andre Iguodala, as we know, is now in Denver;
C) His coach, Doug Collins, recently said, “I like where he is emotionally.” Translation: “He used to be a bit of a head case, but seems to have it together now.”
D) And, the numbers: For the season, Turner is averaging career-highs in ppg (13.5), rpg (7.1), apg (4.1), spg (0.7), 3s (0.7) and minutes (34 per game), including 17.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 5.2 apg, 0.8 spg and 1.0 3s in his last six games. (And yes, more steals would be nice, but let’s not get too greedy.)
Can he keep it up? At this point, I’m starting to believe that this breakout is in fact legit, and the only thing that may ruin the fun for Turner (and for Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young) is the possible return of Andrew Bynum, whose arrival could signal a shift to a low-post-centric offense. But it’s unclear when (or if) Bynum will return, and I have a reasonable amount of hope that Turner can stay in something resembling this groove all year.
Update: Turner had 25 points and 10 rebounds Friday night in Charlotte
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In other hoops-related matters…
Alvin Gentry is killing Independent Goran (and Independent Gortat). I try not to spend a lot of time complaining about coaches in this column, but I cry inside a little bit every time I turn on a Suns game and see Sebastian Telfair and Jermaine O’Neal running around when Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat should be in. It’s brutal. Granted, Dragic (32 minutes per game) and Gortat (31 per game) are still leading the Suns in playing time, but the team’s two best players should be getting at least 35 minutes per night.
On a positive note, Dragic has been able to remain valuable despite Gentry’s overuse of Telfair, but Gortat’s production is really suffering (last seven games: 9.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg and 0.7 bpg in 25 minutes per game). That slump directly coincides with the return of O’Neal, who has posted 10.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.9 bpg in 22 minutes per game in his last seven. The good news for frustrated Gortat owners is that O’Neal, as you may have heard, is known to get injured (an average of 50 games missed the past two seasons). And when (not if) O’Neal gets hurt, Gortat should go back to heavier minutes/much more consistent production.
Some kind words about Patrick Patterson: James Harden and Omer Asik have deservedly gotten most of the statistical high-fives coming out of Houston, but let’s take a moment to recognize the Rockets’ starting power forward, who has posted 18.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.7 spg, 0.5 bpg and 1.0 3s in his last six games. Yes, the lack of rebounding is a bit frustrating, as are the hollow defensive stats, but Patterson offsets that somewhat with 3s and strong shooting (51.5 percent from the floor on the season). Overall, he’s a somewhat unconventional power forward, but definitely a valuable one (during his six-game hot streak, Patterson is the No. 30 overall player on Basketball Monster’s 9-category leaderboard).
I would absolutely advocate a buy-low on Gerald Wallace. Between a slow start to the season after an ankle injury and an ejection that knocked him out of Wednesday’s game early, Wallace is averaging just 7.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 2.4 apg through his first seven games, with just one game in double figures so far. He’s not the explosive producer he used to be with Charlotte, but he’s still capable of 15 or so ppg with solid all-around stats, and the price isn’t getting any lower than this.
Meanwhile, I’d take this opportunity to shop Tyreke Evans. First off, let me admit that there’s a little bit of personal bias here. I am not (and have never been) a fan of Evans’ game (too much meaningless dribbling, and his jumper is still nauseatingly ugly). At the same time, I think there’s a lingering perception that Evans still has the potential to carry a fantasy team, which in my opinion just isn’t true. Yes, Evans produces in points, rebounds, assists, steals and potentially even blocks when he’s on, and he is definitely on right now (21.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.4 spg and 1.0 bpg in his last five games). However, he’s still a downright bad three-point shooter (6-of-22 – 27.3 percent – on the season), and a few big scoring games recently aren’t enough to convince me that he’s ready to go back to posting the 20.1 ppg he averaged as a rookie. (Evans is at 14.9 ppg on the season, has declined in scoring average three years straight and is averaging a career-low 12.6 shots per game this season.)
Is he an awful fantasy player? Not at all. For the season, he’s ranked No. 59 on Basketball Monster’s 9-category leaderboard. Last season, he was No. 89. Add it all up, and you have a sometimes solid, sometimes mediocre fantasy option whose name recognition (in my opinion at least) outweighs his actual value.
Speaking of the Kings, I’m disappointed in DeMarcus Cousins. Let’s look at some numbers:
2011-12: 18.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.2 bpg
2012-13: 16.4 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.7 bpg
Those are still good all-around stats, but Cousins is down in points, rebounds and blocks from last year. And when you mix in rotten percentages (43.2 percent from the field, 68.1 percent from the line), the result is one of the season’s biggest disappointments (No. 97 in Basketball Monster’s 9-category rankings so far after generating top-10 buzz in the preseason). I’m not opposed to making a buy-low offer (there’s room for the points, rebounds and blocks to improve), but it doesn’t look like anything has truly changed this season with Cousins’ shot selection, which is continuing to hold him back from dominant fantasy value.
And while we’re being negative, Pau Gasol looks awful. You don’t need to have a hoops PhD to see that something’s wrong with Pau (9.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg and 1.0 bpg on 35.3 percent shooting in his last four games), and it seems quite clear from watching him that the knee tendinitis is limiting him severely. He’s running like he just got shot in the leg with a crossbow, and just looks generally out of sorts on the floor. Hopefully the Lakers will give him a little bit of time off to get the knee straight, and I think that if/when the knee improves, Gasol should be fine – and should eventually figure things out in the D’Antoni system.
Other Random Thoughts: I’m considering Kyle Singler’s 16-10-5 line from Monday night a fluke. In eight games as a starter, he’s averaging a very mediocre 12.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.3 bpg and 1.1 3s. … Given Scott Skiles’ crazed rotational whims, I’m making it a general policy to stay away from Bucks, with the exceptions being Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Mike Dunleavy (in deeper formats) and Ersan Ilyasova (who should remain buried/hidden on your bench until he wakes up, which I’m still convinced he will). … I’ll strongly advocate trying to trade for Anthony Davis while he’s injured (and potentially frustrating the owner who has him on his roster). The 19-year-old has shown signs of being a difference-making force in fantasy leagues (16.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.0 spg and 2.2 bpg), and could easily improve on those numbers once healthy.
Things to Do This Weekend! (Sudden Video Game Nostalgia Edition)
1) Dust off Super Nintendo for an old-fashioned NBA Live ’95 battle royale with friends; attempt copious amounts of 3s with Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond.
2) While you’ve got the Super NES out, play some Street Fighter II (still my favorite video game of all-time).
3) To infuse the atmosphere with additional nostalgic vibe, listen to Souls of Mischief’s 93 ‘Til Infinity on repeat.