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Last night at the Wells Fargo Center, we talked with Andre Miller before the game. Miller's 2009 contract situation with the Sixers is old news, but the clip (at the bottom of this post) gives you an idea of Miller's soft-spoken nature, as well as his confidence in his abilities. It's a leadership the Sixers' are certainly lacking.
Okay, onto the purpose of this post: Sixers rookie guard Evan Turner. For once, we're not going to talk about Andre Iguodala. Well, okay, wait, we're going to talk about him very quickly in reference to the game he played against the Trail Blazers. It's somewhat baffling for any Sixers' fan to be upset at Iguodala because he scored only 7 points and finished Tuesday's game 2 for 4. Isn't that exactly what we all determined would be precisely the kind of game we wanted from Iguodala? He finishes 2 for 4 from the floor with 7 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 41 minutes of excellent defense. Kind of an exact replica of how he played for the USA team this summer, and kind of exactly how the Sixers need him to play. Of course those aren't the numbers of an $80 million player, and that's a different article entirely, and one we've written 100 times. But for Iguodala, those are numbers that help the team win. It'd be nice if those numbers cost the Sixers $6-$8 million a year, but that's not reality.
Right, onto Turner, yes.
Let's make an observation: Everyone around this team has said that Turner will excel when he feels supported and when he has the confidence of his coaches and all of those around him. That makes sense, of course, but it also begs the question: How will he perform if he isn't bolstered by everyone telling him he's the best and deserves every minute of playing time? Because often if a player is waiting for the whole-hearted support of everyone in the franchise before excelling, he's also depending on them to pick him up and give him reason to perform. If this is what Turner needs, it could be a long season for him.
There's something overwhelmingly empty about the way Turner is playing, regardless of how he meshes with Iguodala (oops, we mentioned him again). And the problem with this rests not with anyone but Turner. Does Turner need to continue to receive playing time? Absolutely. Should he continue to start? Sure, that makes sense. In some ways, Turner finds himself in an enviable position: because he's the No. 2 pick, and much is invested in him, he'll continue receiving the minutes the franchise needs in order to continue evaluating him. Compared to a guy like Jodie Meeks, who won't be given anything he hasn't earned, Turner should start making more of the time he's being given.
Like Collins said after last night's game, he has a bulldog (Meeks) on the bench waiting to take Turner's minutes. So instead of Turner waiting for more faith to be put in him, and waiting for someone to change his position and give him the ball, he needs to start treating his minutes as importantly as they would be treated by a guy like Meeks. That would require a change in attitude. It's difficult to go from being the go-to, all-everything guy at Ohio State to just another option here. And making that shift takes maturity, something Turner needs to continue demonstrating.
Everyone who's watching these games is making his/her own assessment about Turner, about his game, about his attitude, about his future potential. And the one question that keeps returning is: Is Turner taking responsibility for his own poor play? It's one thing to struggle in the first quarter of your rookie season, but it's another to stop attacking on the floor, to become just a ball-swinger, catching and passing to the top of the key, and to look elsewhere every time a mistake is committed.
Turner has an opportunity here, borne of his draft position and status, and it's time he embraces the challenge.
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Each week, Kate will check in from the road and answer fan questions about the Sixers. Click here to ask Kate a question or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.