It’s official: the Sixers finally have a true two guard.
No more forcing Andre Iguodala to play out of position, no more acting like Willie Green is anything more than an average D-leaguer at best: with the second overall pick in the 2o1o NBA Draft, the Sixers selected Ohio State guard Evan Turner.
Turner is an incredible addition to the evolving Sixers’ roster. He’s coming off of a 2010 season where he averaged 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game and won the John Wooden Award, the Naismith Award and the Associated Press National Player of the Year award. Needless to say, Turner most likely will not be traded tonight like the Sixers’ most recent second overall pick back in 1997: Keith Van Horn.
Turner has drawn many comparisons to Portland’s Brandon Roy and it’s easy to see why. Aside from his mid-range game, Turner can make plays both with and without the ball and does some of his best work while shaking defenders on his way to the basket. ESPN’s Jay Bilas focused on his dribbling skills while breaking Turner down after the pick.
“He’s really skilled, he can go off the dribble both ways, he’s got point guard skills in the body of a guy that’s 6–7,” he said. “He can pull up, he sees the floor very well and he’s got the ability to find seams [in the defense].”
Turner’s skill and the leadership abilities he’ll bring to the team is undeniable, but his tenacity is also a big part of why he was drafted. After breaking several vertebrae back in December, he missed just six games over four weeks when the doctors said he would be out closer to two months.
“It shows I’m relentless, I’m tough and I just love playing basketball,” he said on ESPN after being drafted. “I can’t stay away from the game for too long and I really wanted to help my team out and come back and win.”
76ers general manager Ed Stefanski was asked in a post-draft press conference about whether Turner was in their immediate plans and whether the Sixers would have been better suited taking a big man after the recent trade involving Samuel Dalembert.
“We think [Turner]’s ready right now. Probably spending that third year at Ohio State really helped him. You always can use bigs also, but with the trade bringing in Spencer Hawes and getting [Andres] Nocioni, we felt we were okay.”
The 2010 starting lineup could be quite young with Jrue Holiday at point alongside Turner at shooting guard, followed by Iguodala playing his natural small forward position. Thaddeus Young will play a bit undersized at the four but still has the ability to bang with the big boys, and right now Spencer Hawes seems best fit at the five. This, of course, could all change if Stefanski and crew attempt to sell us Elton Brand as a starting player once again.
Doug Collins, their new head coach, has always spoken highly about Turner, who has been the assumed pick of the Sixers since they moved up from the sixth spot to the second in the NBA Draft Lottery. In an interview a week before the draft, Collins spoke at length about Turner’s skills and wasn’t trying to hide the fact that the organization was leaning his way.
“First of all he’s very smart. He’s got a great [knowledge of the] history of the game. He was talking about a couple of all-star games – guys making plays at the end of games. The thing that I love about him is with all that, he’s a great competitor,” Collins said in a piece on the team’s website. “When you watch him on tape you see the really competitive side of him; you’ve got to be a great competitor to be a great player.”
Philadelphia’s basketball woes haven’t been solved just yet, as they still have a long way to go after finishing 27-55 last season. When asked by Stewart Scott what exactly the Sixers needed to improve on, Bilas gave a quick, blunt answer.