It's been too long since we were actually able to talk about basketball itself. At least six weeks on the potential first-round draft pick, and about the same amount of time focusing on exactly when Comcast-Spectacor's deal to sell the 76ers would be completed, and throughout it all monitoring any trade movement with swingman Andre Iguodala. With yesterday's news that the ownership deal is officially in place, and with the deal now being shipped to the NBA's Board of Governors for approval, a process which will likely take in the range of two months, we can now take some time to look at one aspect of basketball in particular: Evan Turner's work with Herb Magee.
Before we get to that, two things. One, we'll be having our Live Chat again tomorrow (Friday) at 1 p.m. If you have some free time, stop by philly.com. We'll be covering everything about the new ownership, potential changes, the lockout, player workouts, etc. And, two, before we get straight to Turner's shooting work, here's one last thing about the new ownership group (couldn't resist!). We asked Shaq, who just signed with TNT, what his opinion was on the Sixers' swap in ownership and the league's movement towards younger, hedge fun, investment group-type owners. Here's what Shaq said:
"This change in Philadelphia, I'm very aware of that group and ..." Shaq said. "I know they're going to pick it up with everything they can and get some new exciting players in there to bring it back to life. Owners like that and Mark Cuban and the guy who just purchased the Detroit Pistons, they're new-wave owners."
As anyone who follows on Twitter already knows (you can do that here: Deep Sixer), Evan Turner began working with Magee, The Shot Doctor, as of yesterday. Because Turner's development is such a crucial factor for next season's team, and because Turner's progress could also be the difference between retaining or trading Iguodala, we did some leg work on exactly what Turner's work with Magee looks like. They met for about 100 minutes, give or take a few, yesterday and it sounds like they're going to work together again at least twice next week. I think it's important to note that Turner's willingness to take this step is a legitimate reflection on the kind of player he's going to be within this franchise: humble, receptive, willing to make the necessary adjustments, and hard working.
Unlike what most NBA players do, which is get into the gym and just take hundreds of jumpers and three-pointers, the work Turner is doing with Magee is breaking everything down to the absolute basics. Anybody who has ever played or worked on their shot knows the structure at a camp or as a kid: shoot the ball to yourself with all of the fundamentals in check (feet shoulder width, shooting elbow tucked in, etc.), shoot the ball in the air to someone else, approach the hoop and shoot one-handed shots employing the same fundamentals, add the guide hand (off hand) and shoot within a foot of the rim, slowly take steps away from the rim, etc.
Again, one more time for emphasis, the fact that Turner is absorbing this instruction and not scoffing at the thought of shooting the ball to himself in the air should give you an indication that he's pretty coachable. I don't know a lot of NBA players who would allow their game to be broken down to such a microscopic level. It sounds like Turner and Magee worked for over an hour and a half yesterday and never got past shooting the ball one-handed, not more than a foot away from the rim.
If you've made it this far in the blog post then you're a Sixers fan and you watched enough games last year to know Turner needed some basic adjustment on his shot. He's not a bad shooter, not by any stretch, but there were times his confidence seemed to affect his mid-range shot and there are some obvious corrections needed on his mechanics. Yesterday, Turner and Magee worked on the first of those changes: Turner's placement of his off hand. Turner's shooting hand is actually quite sound. He holds the ball correctly, keeps his shooting elbow in, and releases the ball off the correct fingers. On occasion, he snaps back instead of holding his follow through, but for the most part his shooting hand is not the issue. That information should relieve Sixers' fans.
Right now, Turner's off hand needs slight adjustment. Turner seems to have the incorrect placement of his off hand on the ball, which then affects his shot in two ways: he uses his off-hand thumb on the release, which isn't ideal, and the incorrect off-hand placement causes his left elbow to flare out too much. This explanation might seem too jargony ... Let's try it this way: Picture a perfect jumpshot as being like a retractable tape measure (this is the best imagery we can do on short notice). Everything needs to be in line for the tape measure to release in a straight line and then retract without getting snagged. A perfect jumper is, in some ways, like this: everything should be in line. If an elbow flares out, a kink is put into the shot, and then the whole equation is affected. The ideal jumper becomes mechanical: everything is arranged without thought and you can expand and release the same way everytime.
This basic level seems to be the first step between Turner and Magee. Adjusting Turner's off-hand placement and then using repetition to make the adjustment more natural to his shot, which means shooting the ball into the air hundreds of times, not just popping out to the NBA three-point line and trying to employ this new piece of information launching from 25 feet away.
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.