Evan Turner is one of the more outspoken and honest players in the NBA. Widely respected around the league for being a great locker room presence, Turner is getting back in the gym and working on all facets of his game. While he had a disappointing season from a statistical standpoint, he took his move to the bench as a challenge and became more versatile as a result.
Formerly of Ohio State University, the valuable mid-range shooter and lengthy guard has started to find comfort in his relatively new home with the Trail Blazers. With Portland in an interesting spot relatively standing pat while other teams continue the arms race around them, Turner and the Blazers will try to grow together.
DIME sat down with Turner to discuss his offseason, former Ohio State coach Thad Matta, and more.
So, we’ve got to chat about this story I heard about you getting kicked out of practice at Ohio State. What happened?
(Chuckles) Oh no, we were just having a bad day at practice and I probably shouldn’t have gotten in trouble for it. I think coach was just already mad. He stopped the practice and started yelling at us. But, when he got done yelling at us I told the manager “give me the ball.” I think he thought I said something way different than what I said. So coach said “get the hell out of practice.” That was like the beginning of my sophomore year and in my head I was like, I guess I’m transferring. But then, right before I walked out he said “come back when you’re mature!” That’s when I just realized it wasn’t that bad, it probably saved him [from losing me].
How did Matta help you?
Where he really helped me was mentally. He challenged me to a standard that was very high because he knew who I could be. We just had a great connection and great friendship. I definitely trusted him which was was one of the biggest things for me. He just always believed in me and knew the right things to say, he always helped me tried to help me see the bigger picture. Even when I had struggles in the NBA, he always would talk to me, help me refocus, re-centered me and put everything into perspective. It was just great for me as a player and as an adult to have someone like that to talk to.
On Twitter, you talked about Jeff Van Gundy on-air in the Finals saying the best duo we’d ever seen is Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. Do you have a best duo? If so, who is it?
Man, I mean Pippen and Jordan maybe. There’s so many that people underappreciate, like J-Will and Chris Webber. I was a big fan of Jason Williams growing up, you know what I’m saying? Obviously, you have to go Kobe and Shaq because that was unreal back in the day. Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce, they were dominant in Boston for a long time. There’s a lot of great duos that people don’t talk about.
How did you feel about this Finals? Did you watch it?
Yeah, I watched it. Its been crazy how good the Warriors are and how well the Warriors played. Obviously, they disrupted everything in the Finals for Cleveland. They don’t just have great skills, but what I saw was them winning all the 50/50 balls. I think there was a play where Steph might’ve gotten a rebound, kicked it out to KD, KD missed, but KD got the ball back and kicked it to Klay. They were up four and I think that put it to seven. That was just an example of them playing with such focus and having a goal in mind – which is obviously an understatement.
What’s interesting to me about the Warriors is Draymond Green. His play is just different from any other player I’ve seen. I know you played against him that first round, can you speak to what he means to that team and what stands out about him?
Man, I think his intangibles are crazy, they’re crazy. He’s a tough dude physically, but he’s a tough dude mentally in the little challenges. Like, when they’re talking about “let Draymond beat you, let Draymond shoot,” he’ll go out and make threes. What makes him
even tougher is those little challenges, whether it means guarding the perimeter or making shots. Like, some would say “let Dray shoot the three,” he’s shooting like 45 percent from three, that’s huge. Those are the little challenges he wins and makes him just fit with that already All-Star team.
Now, I’m sure you’ve heard about this Big3 league with Allen Iverson and Ice Cube, right?
Oh yeah, it’s crazy. McCants was the number one pick and they didn’t pick up Steve Francis. It looks dope, I’m looking forward to checking it out.
So, hypothetically, you have to pick two players past or present to play with in your own BIG3, who are you taking?
Jordan and Shaq. Maybe a lifetime shooter like my man Redick would be good too. You have to get a guy who can be like a cheat code for shooting and then somebody who’s got crazy intangibles.
So lastly, what are you working on in your game right now?
As I keep growing, I’m trying to work on everything as a shooter. I’m working on my form, I’m working on my catch-and-shoot game, trying to make sure I’m as good as I can be at that. I always want to make sure I can step up in any role the organization puts me in, so I’m always working to get better in all areas of my game.