“They have more talent,” Collins, now an ESPN analyst, said in a phone interview Friday afternoon. “Any time you upgrade your talent base, it’s like in real estate they say location, location, location; in professional sport it’s talent, talent, talent.”
Collins coached the Sixers for Turner’s first three NBA seasons. Though the two had an occasionally tempestuous relationship, Collins had nothing but good things to say about the former No. 2 overall pick from Ohio State.
“They got a really, really good all-around basketball player,” Collins said. “I had the pleasure to coach him for three years. I watched him grow every year. He is a big-time competitor – a tough, tough competitor – and he is a winner.
“I know it was a very difficult time for him to be going through the rebuild. For him now to get to a winning situation, I think he’s going to thrive. I think Frank Vogel will be a great coach for him, I think he will be great for their team. He’s a great teammate. He will stand up for his teammates.”
The Pacers gave up Danny Granger and a future second-round pick to acquire Turner and Lavoy Allen from the Sixers just before the NBA trade deadline Thursday. With the second unit struggling for scoring punch, Turner is expected to fill the vacated sixth man role.
They signed Bynum, who bounced from the Sixers to the Cavs to the Bulls before signing with the Pacers on Feb. 1, for the remainder of the season in hopes he can provide quality backup minutes behind Roy Hibbert.
Though some analysts are skeptical Turner will thrive in the Pacers’ slower-paced offense, Collins believes the player, coach and team are a perfect fit.
“People forget, when I went back to Philadelphia that team had won 27 games and we went plus-14 that year (2010-11) and Evan was a huge part of a rotation on the perimeter that had Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Jodie Meeks and himself,” he said. “He’s used to playing winning basketball and having very good teammates with him.
“I think it got lost a little bit because so much was put on him this year with the rebuild and all they were doing in Philadelphia but this is a guy who played 28 minutes a night on a team that was three minutes away from being in the conference finals (in 2012). And Evan was a huge part of that.”
Turner does have a sensitive side, and Collins said it will be important for the Pacers to make him feel wanted and needed. He also has a tendency to get down on himself if he makes mistakes or struggles to score.
“The one thing about Evan is he is a little hard on himself,” he said. “He’s such a perfectionist and he’s such a competitor, it was one thing I always talked to him about
: you’re going to make some mistakes along the way, just play through those. As he got older, he got much, much better at doing that. The Pacers got themselves a really good player.”