Saturday, February 23, 2013

Take A Pick: Evan Turner or Derrick Williams

Evan Turner drives against Derrick Williams. (Jim Mone/AP)
The Minnesota Timberwolves defended the den from a hungry Philadelphia 76ers team Wednesday, winning 94-87. Target Center played host to a dismal display of fourth quarter shooting. Minnesota scored only one bucket on 12 attempts while Philadelphia made its 25 percent shooting feel like an air-raid assault. Before tip-off, trade rumors swirled around Derrick Williams and Evan Turner. This, at the time, seemed as if could have been both players' last time out with their respective teams.

Turner and Williams, both drafted with second overall picks in consecutive years, have yet to consistently play at a level that satisfies standards predicted for the two coming into the NBA.

Playing an average of 21.5 minutes per game, Williams struggled to find a scoring niche his rookie year, averaging close to nine points shooting and only 26 percent from 3-point range. In the following offseason, the Wolves made an offer for Nicholas Batum, which after being matched by Portland Trail Blazers, left Minnesota thin at the 3-4 positions. After injuries to both Kevin Love and Chase Budinger, Williams saw his playing time skyrocket. Williams, in a career high 36 minutes on Wednesday, scored 17 going 7-12 from the field, shooting 2-4 from behind the arc, while snatching eight boards in the victory over Philly.

Turner averaged 20 ppg during his final season as an Ohio State Buckeye. Turner, a SF with respectable handles, could create a mismatch in almost every game at the collegiate level. Not having size as a luxury in the NBA, the Sixers coaching staff worked with Turner on moving without the ball, as well as finding ways to catch and create in the low block when matched up against smaller defenders. He led the Sixers in Wednesday's losing effort with 17 points on 6-16 shooting. Turner tallied six rebounds and shot 5-6 from the charity stripe, getting his game going about midway through the third quarter.

With neither player moved at the trade deadline, Turner and Williams will finish out the season continuing to play the roles the Sixers and Wolves ask of them. Both teams are looking in from outside the playoff picture. Philly is 3.5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks, who hold the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Wolves remain 6.5 back in the West. The Minnesota front office made a promise to appear in this year's postseason, rewarding season ticket holders a 10 percent discount on next year's packages if the team fails to make the playoffs. The Wolves not only have to overcome the deficit in the loss column, but also need to jump Portland, the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers, all of which are fighting for a playoff slot.

Here's the hypothetical situation: your organization just missed a postseason appearence by two games. You have the opportunity to sign either Williams or Turner. Who do you believe helps more in making the playoffs during the 2013-2014 season?

Career Numbers
  • Evan Turner, third season.
    • Age 24, 6'7" 220lbs
    • 27.7mpg 9.7 ppg 5.2 rpg and 2.9 apg
    • 43% FG 32% 3ptFG and 75% FT
      • Current Season
        • 36.3 mpg
        • 16.8 ppg 6.6 rpg and 4.3 apg (per game)
        • 42% FG 47% 3ptFG and 76% FG

  • Derrick Williams, second season.
    • Age 21, 6'8" 240lbs
    • 21.4 mpg 9.3 ppg 5.8 rpg and 0.5 apg
    • 41% FG 29% 3ptFG and 70% FT
      • Current Season
        • 21.2 mpg
        • 10 ppg 5 rpg and 0.4 apg (per game)
        • 41% FG 33% 3ptFG and 71% FT

Williams' rookie year makes comparing these career stats worthy, but Turner is clearly the more developed product thus far.

Over the last ten games, Turner is averaging 13 ppg in 35.4 minutes and shooting 40 percent while Williams has accumulated 12.3 ppg in just 25.3 minutes and is shooting 42 percent in his extended role.

Turner's responsibilities as a Sixer started as limited, but have become a pivotal. Turner now has playoff experience to aid aside the chemistry developed with his teammates, primarly Jrue Holiday, who has been Turner's only PG while in the NBA.

Williams fights a different battle. Love, Minnesota's both beloved and hated star player, has been irrelevant this season. Injuries not only to Love, but also Budinger, Andre Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic during the course of this season have forced Williams in new places on the court. At times, he has played as a 4 an undersized 4 and struggled to match-up with the likes of Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol and even NeNe. When playing as a 3, Williams seems lost in pick-and-roll sets when faced with a quicker guard.

Both players have shown maturity, character, and have worked hard both on and off the court, saying all the right things to coaches and the press, careful not to provide any ammo that could be used by media.

The choice is yours, Internet.

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