Hawks guard Evan Turner (left) and forward Chandler Parsons talk in between photo shoots Monday, Sept. 30, 2019, at the Emory Sports Medicine Complex in Atlanta.
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Evan Turner taking on a versatile role for Hawks

For Evan Turner, being a versatile player isn’t necessarily something he takes pride in ⁠— it’s just how he’s always been.

“You are who you are,” Turner said Thursday at Hawks training camp. “I try to do whatever I can on the floor. It just is what it is. Just fit in where you fit in, whether (playing) 1, 2 or 3, or guarding 1 through 3, or sometimes 4, Coach (Lloyd Pierce) said, it is what it is.” 

The Hawks acquired Turner, a 30-year-old swingman, from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Kent Bazemore in June.  

In Turner, the Hawks got a backup point guard behind Trae Young -- and someone who can slide in at power forward for more of a small-ball look (Turner said he measured at 6-foot-5.75 without shoes). And they got a veteran presence, which is key for a team that grew even younger this offseason. 

“Evan’s a vet, and the versatility that Evan has, I’ve talked about it a few times, but he’s going to be our backup point guard, and then he’s going to be our small-ball (power forward), and that in and of itself is pretty unique,” Pierce said. “We can move him all over the place, and it’s because of his game. His game is different.” 

By “different,” Pierce points out Turner isn’t a 3-point shooter, which makes him an enigma in today’s game. Turner made 21.2 percent of his 3-point attempts last year in Portland, taking 0.7 3’s a game. 

But Pierce likes Turner’s ability to play several different roles and distribute. Turner averaged 3.9 assists per game with Portland last season and has averaged 3.5 per game in his NBA career, which began in Philadelphia in 2010. He also added 4.5 rebounds per game last season (averaging 4.7 a game over his career).

“I don’t know if he has a natural position,” Pierce said. “He can post up, put the basketball in his hands, a lot of different things he can do. That’s just how we’re going as a league, the NBA, if you have multiple playmakers, whatever size or form they come in, you feel good whenever you sub,” Pierce said.

“You’re not like, ‘Oh, God, we have to get Trae back in, he’s the only guy who can make a pass.’ We have a lot of guys who can make that pass.” 

So, coming into the 2019-20 season, prepare to see Turner at several different spots.

For Turner, adapting to the Hawks’ playbook has been straightforward.

“The plays aren’t hard at all, actually,” Turner said. “I think they’re pretty simple. Right now we’re playing at a pretty fast pace. Everything is somewhat trying to figure everybody out. Guys are trying to get used to certain plays in order to do it.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.