Friday, September 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Evan Turner, no longer a rookie

We're getting closer to more specific talk about the NBA Draft. The combine in Chicago is May 18-22 and then the 76ers will start bringing in players to PCOM for workouts. Today, we'll just continue with our coverage of some of the smaller questions surrounding the Sixers. On Monday, we discussed the future possibilities with young big man Craig Brackins. If you missed that post, you can find it here: Brackins. On Tuesday, we talked about the future of center Spencer Hawes and whether or not the Sixers would want to re-sign the 23-year-old starting center. If you missed that post, you can find it here: Hawes.

Evan Turner, no longer a rookie

If they could do it all over again, would the Sixers still draft Evan Turner? (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
If they could do it all over again, would the Sixers still draft Evan Turner? (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

We're getting closer to more specific talk about the NBA Draft. The combine in Chicago is May 18-22 and then the 76ers will start bringing in players to PCOM for workouts. Today, we'll just continue with our coverage of some of the smaller questions surrounding the Sixers. On Monday, we discussed the future possibilities with young big man Craig Brackins. If you missed that post, you can find it here: Brackins. On Tuesday, we talked about the future of center Spencer Hawes and whether or not the Sixers would want to re-sign the 23-year-old starting center. If you missed that post, you can find it here: Hawes.

Today, per the e-mails I've received, people seem to be interested in Evan Turner, the No. 2 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. The question I've received more than any other? If the Sixers could make that selection again, would they still draft Turner? The question I've received the second-most amount of times? Where do the Sixers see Turner playing? At point guard, at starting shooting guard, at small forward?

The point of today's post is to paint a picture of how the franchise views Turner, at this exact moment in time. We all have opinions about how Turner's rookie year went, and nobody believes it was earth-shattering, but I'd like to toss one idea out there that we haven't fully discussed previously. Turner went through the fire. Sixers coach Doug Collins didn't hand him anything. He had a handful of games where he didn't play, per coach's decision, and we'd be naive to think those moments didn't knock the wind out of Turner. But also, in an old-fashioned way, it was probably the best thing that could have happened to him. Because he impressed people with the way he handled himself last season. Nothing was given to him and in the long run there's belief within the organization that this will make him a stronger, more dedicated, more mentally tough player than some rookies who received 35 minutes a game, a starting role, and a prime-time spot on a 20-win team.

So in answer to the most asked question: who would the Sixers draft if they could do it all again? I still think they draft Turner; I think people within the organization -- and I know I agree with this -- still believe he will raise to the level of a No. 2 pick, even if his rookie year numbers don't reflect that status immediately. 

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By all accounts, at Turner's exit interview the day after the loss to the Miami Heat, he made it clear he understands what he has to do this summer. And he's excited to do it. He is keeping in good contact with everyone and preparing himself for a breakout sophomore season. In addition to improving that mid-range jumper, Turner understands that he must be in absolutely ideal physical condition when he enters camp next September. Toward the end of last season, because his minutes were often sporadic and traveling isn't the healthiest style of living, Turner probably wasn't in tip-top, prime-time shape. But he will be next season. And that will go a long way toward allowing him to defend on the low block, improve his first step, and be more explosive on the floor.

He's excited for what he can do next season, and so is the franchise.

So in answer to the second most asked question: what position is Turner? I'm going to give all Sixers' fans something else to think about in saying that it's possible you might see Turner playing more small forward next season. I know we've talked about his potential for starting at the shooting guard spot, as well as how well he plays when given minutes as the main ballhandler, but if you move forward under the premise that the point guard position absolutely belongs to Jrue Holiday, then you have to ask yourself where might Turner find the most minutes? Are his skills perhaps best suited to playing the small forward? If he can get himself into prime condition, can add some strength to effectively defend on the low block, then keep an eye on Turner's potential as a small forward. 

Of course, there are plenty of other factors the team must address as this summer moves forward. Right now, the starting small forward position rightfully belongs to Andre Iguodala. If the right deal doesn't come along in the next few months, then Turner's minutes will -- as they were this season -- be much more difficult to come by and will be patched together across three positions: point guard, shooting guard, and small forward.

But the main point of this blog is to answer the lingering questions about Turner: the franchise considers him a crucial piece for the future and Turner has been straight-forward with telling them he's prepping for a legitimate sophomore season.

Here are a few lineup ideas to consider:

Status Quo: 1.) Holiday, Meeks, Iguodala, Brand, Hawes. (Obviously worst case because there's no improvement.)

Idea #1: 1.) Holiday, Player X, Turner, Brand, Player X. (Obviously dependent on making a trade involving Iguodala for a scoring guard and perhaps drafting a big man.)

Idea #2: 1.) Holiday, Turner, Iguodala, Brand, Player X. (Dependent on acquiring a big man, whether by draft or trade, but could be a very difficult lineup to push because of the lack of shooting.)

We could play the lineup game all day. If you want all of the quick-hit info, please follow on Twitter. You can do that here: Deep Sixer

--Kate


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 kfagan@phillynews.com.

Download our new iPhone/Android app for all of Kate's Sixers coverage, plus app-exclusive analysis and videos.

About this blog

Keith Pompey is in his first season covering the Sixers for The Inquirer after covering the Temple men’s basketball team for the past three years and Temple football the past two seasons.

Marc Narducci has served in a variety of roles with the Inquirer since beginning in 1983. He has covered the 76ers as a backup and a beat writer. In addition, Narducci has covered everything from the Super Bowl to the World Series and a lot in between.

Narducci also has a true passion for South Jersey scholastic sports, which he has covered for many years.

Keith Pompey Inquirer Staff Writer
Marc Narducci Inquirer Columnist
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