Evan Turner's biggest challenge over his rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers has seemingly been finding confidence. He thrashed about Doug Collins' rotation much of the season, failing to live up to his billing as the most NBA-ready college product of the 2010 draft. His shot seemed off, his defense ineffective and everything that made him wonderful at Ohio State just wasn't enough in the pros.
But that confidence looked just fine in Sunday's win over the Miami Heat. Turner drew a loose ball foul with just seconds left and an opportunity to end the game from the free throw line. Michael Levin of Liberty Ballers describes what happened:
With the Sixers up two, 2.3 to play, and against two of the best players in our generation, the occasionally-maligned Evan Turner toed the free throw line all by his lonesome. Two makes and he'd send the Sixers to Game 5 in Miami. One miss could mean overtime. Two could spell disaster. In a game against Washington when the season was still young, he missed two shots at the foul line that would have iced the game, only to have John Wall tie it and win the game in overtime.
Five months have passed since then. For all intents and purposes, ET isn't a rookie anymore. Said Elton Brand: "He’s so much more mature than the Washington game. I knew Evan would make at least one of them." Well, he made both. The first was an icy cold swish, the second kissed some rim before dropping in for the two-possession lead. Not only did it send the Wells Fargo Center into a complete frenzy, it put another notch in the mostly unadorned belt of the rookie.
Turner has quietly had a solid series, and could become the starting shooting guard for Game 5. It's quite a turn for a young player some fans were comparing to disastrous 2009 No. 2 pick Hasheem Thabeet just weeks ago.