As the trade deadline approached, many teams were looking to improve themselves. Teams like the Charlotte Bobcats and Washington Wizards acquired veteran talent to bolster their benches in an attempt to make the playoffs. But the Pacers were looking at an even bigger picture. Indiana traded there once-franchise Danny Granger to Philadelphia for the services of swingman Evan Turner. Immediately many proclaimed the move to be a great one. Some even believe that this move put Indiana over the top in their championship pursuit. But after examining Turner, the upgrade the Pacers supposedly made could come with some growing pains.
Before heading to the Pacers, Turner was averaging a career-high 17.4 points per game as he played out his contract year with a listless 76ers team. At first glance, it would seem that his offense would be a welcomed addition coming off the bench. But let’s take a further look into how Turner gets his points. The first thing that jumps off the screen about his season so far is the amount of shots he is taking. He is averaging 15 attempts per his 35 minutes per game. In Philly that may have been possible, but in Indiana he will not be getting as many minutes to put up shots behind Lance Stephenson and Paul George. The key thing for Turner is to be efficient when he is on the court. The more quality shots he takes, the better he will be. If he is not able to do that, then he may not be as much of a help to the Pacers as originally thought.
But the efficiency is not the only thing Turner has to obtain when joining the Pacers. Granger, for his career, has been a 38% three-point shooter. On a Pacers team that does not have great outside shooting, he served a role for them that no else on that roster could fill. With Turner entering the fold, the dynamics coming off the bench change. Turner is shooting 28% from the three-point line this season. For a team that struggles to shoot the three at times, he does not add anything in that area. And heading into a potential series with Miami ion the playoffs, three-point shooting becomes essential when the Heat have to help on the Pacers’ big men. Maybe Lance Stephenson makes them pay and shoots well, but stretching the floor has to be a concern for the Pacers right now.
Another issue that could come about is the way Evan Turner gets involved on the offensive end. Turner is a guy that is used to having the ball in his hands to make things happen. In Indiana, you have guys like Paul George, George Hill, CJ Watson and the aforementioned Stephenson that handle the ball majority of the time. That means Turner must find a way to play off the basketball more. And what is more troubling is in his career in Philly, he has not been the most effective off the ball. Granger may have had trouble staying healthy, but he was definitely more effective than Turner has been off the ball. In Indiana, the coaching staff either has to put some plays in to put the ball in Turner’s hands or he will have to adjust. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Defensively when the Pacers matched up against the Heat, they had guys like Granger and like Paul George to matchup with LeBron James. After the trade of Granger, that now leaves George as the primary defender to guard James. Stephenson is a good defender, but the Pacers need him to guard Dwyane Wade. Chris Copeland is a tweener at the forward position and he does not have the foot speed to guard James. So that leaves Turner as the only alternative to George to guard LeBron. And in that matchup, it could be troublesome for him. The Pacers are an excellent defensive team, but they may be limited in the usage of Turner versus the Heat due to matchup concerns.
Overall, the Pacers got younger and faster with the trade of Granger. But the jury is still out on how he will fit in the system considering his style of play. If he is able to mold his game to the Pacers’ system, then he takes them over the top. But if he comes and cannot adjust to life of the bench with limited opportunities, then the trade would be a waste for Indiana for this season. Only time will tell us what happens, but for now the Pacers will enjoy the excitement of a new, younger cog to their team.