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Paul George or Evan Turner: Who Should the Sixers Have Taken in 2010?

In the 2010 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia Sixers had the #2 overall pick behind the Washington Wizards. With John Wall being the consensus #1 overall pick, the Sixers had to decide who to draft. What seemed like an easy decision to make, turned out to be a mistake for the Philadelphia Sixers organization. They chose to draft Evan Turner with the #2 overall pick, instead of Paul Georege, who at the time wasn’t really in consideration to be drafted at #2. From draft day on, Paul George has had much more success on the Indiana Pacers than Evan Turner has had on the Philadelphia Sixers. Lets cycle through the careers of each of these individuals starting from their freshman year in college, to their 3rd year in the NBA.

College:

Looking at their college careers, Evan Turner was clearly the better player. In his freshman year, he played approximately 27 minutes per game and contributed 8.5 points with 4.5 rebounds per game. He did not put up stellar numbers in his freshman year, but he helped Ohio State win the 2008 NIT championship. Turner was a different man during this tournament, as he averaged 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game.

Turner proved that these tournament numbers were no fluke as he led the Ohio State Buckeyes in points, rebounds, assists, and steals during his sophomore year. This performance earned him Associated Press All-American honorable mention honors. In his junior year, Turner began the season with a triple-double in the first game. This was the first triple-double by a player in the Big Ten since 2001. After another triple-double performance, Turner earned his 3rd consecutive Big Ten Player of the Week honors. Turner suffered second and third fractures in his lumbar vertebra, but he quickly bounced back. Overall, he had a very successful college career at Ohio State University.

Paul George played his college basketball at Fresno State University. He played much more than Evan Turner did, but George only averaged 14.3 points per game in his freshman year with 6.2 rebounds. As a sophomore he picked it up a little with 16.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. George did not receive much help from his teammates which is the reason he didn’t win any type of team accomplishments. He also did not play in front of the brightest lights which made it difficult to get the same kind of recognition as Evan Turner over at Ohio State.

Rookie Year:

(Evan Turner during Rising Stars Challenge)

Turner during the Rising Stars Challenge (via Getty Images).

In his first career game, Evan Turner added great production off the bench with 16 rebounds, 7 points, and 4 assists in 30 minutes against the Miami Heat and their “Big 3”. It was only weeks later when Turner made his first NBA start against the New York Knicks, and he had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. In his rookie year, the Sixers made it to the playoffs but were quickly ousted by the Miami Heat 4-1. In these 5 games, Turner averaged 8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Turner had an average rookie year.

Paul George averaged similar numbers as Evan Turner in his rookie season. George’s NBA debut was not spectacular as he only had 4 points on 1-5 shooting. When it came down to the post-season, George was one of only two players from the 2010 NBA Draft to be in the starting lineup, the other being Landry Fields of the New York Knicks. Similarly to Evan Turner and the Sixers, George and the Pacers were knocked out in the first round in five games by the Chicago Bulls.

Second Year:

In his second year in the league, Turner’s numbers were not as good as Sixers’ fans had hoped they’d be, but he was chosen to play in the Liga BBVA Rising Stars Competition.

His numbers increased from his rookie season, including a jump in points (7.2 to 9.4), rebounds (3.9 to 5.8), and assists (2.0 to 2.8) per game. Turner did not show much improvement as he was still a bad shooter, shooting at a 22% clip from beyond the 3-point  arc. In the postseason, the Sixers defeated the Rose-less Bulls in 6 but went on to lose to the Boston Celtics in 7 games the 2nd round.

On the other hand, Paul George showed great improvement from his rookie season. He also played in the Rising Stars challenge, as well as the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest where he did a 360 windmill in the dark. George started all 66 games in a lockout-shortened season, and he averaged 12 points, 5.6 rebounds, and saw an increase from 30 to 39% from behind the arc. The Pacers went on to beat the Howard-less Magic and then lost to the eventual league champs, the Miami Heat.

Third Year:

(Paul George dunk on Chris Anderson)

Paul George dunks on Chris Anderson.

After only starting roughly 1/3 of the Sixers’ games, Evan Turner showed great durability and started all 82 games of the 2012-13 season. Throughout the season, however, he lacked consistency. There were countless games where he would scored 20+ and then score less  than 12 the very next game. Even with this lack of consistency, Turner increased his numbers and showed improvement with his shot as he averaged 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game. His production was not enough as the Sixers missed the NBA playoffs.

Many call the 2012-13 season Paul George’s breakout season (17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds per game). That title is apropos as he earned his first career spot on the NBA All-Star Team. In this game, he had 17 points in 20 minutes. Early on in the season, George broke Reggie Miller’s franchise record for 3-pointers in a game as he made 9-of-13 from behind the arc and he recorded 37 points. He also led the Pacers to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, only to lose to the Miami Heat. George also made the play of his career, as he dunked on Chris “Birdman” Anderson after blowing by Lebron James.

In retrospect, the Sixers must be regretting not taking Paul George with the number 2 pick. He is a very athletic player, who can now shoot the ball as well. George has showed great improvement since his time at Fresno State.

Other Notable Players the 76ers Passed Up On:

Demarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe, Gordon Hayward, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe, Avery Bradley

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Categories: 76ers, Editorial

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