The 76ers saw some progression in it’s current roster players and got some live action practicing head coach Doug Collins philosophies. But the Sixers top pick Evan Turner was average — that’s being extremely nice — and no one on Philadelphia’s bench really proved worthy of a training camp invite. As a result, the Sixers finished 2-3 during the week.
If Sixers fans didn’t realize the potential of Jrue Holiday, they do now. Philadelphia’s 20-year-old point guard proved to Coach Doug Collins that he can be “the quarterback of the offense.” Holiday played in just three games during the week but averaged 19.3 ppg, 6 assists per game and only 2 turnovers per contest. Holiday started to turn the corner in the second half last season and it’s always encouraging when a second year player is able to have his way against summer league competition. Holiday won’t be asked to score as much in the regular season but it was good to see him shoot 47.4% on 38 shots. Jrue routinely was able to get to the basket and will be starting for the Sixers from day one in 2010-11.
The biggest reason for any Philadelphia fan to tune into the summer league was to evaluate the second overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Evan Turner. Before I assess the guard’s performance, Doug Collins made it clear Turner was not in basketball shape, simply on instructions from his agent to avoid any injury before the draft. In fact according to Turner he had not played 5 on 5 basketball since Ohio State was eliminated from the 2010 NCAA Tournament. So there was a rust factor to deal with in Orlando for Turner.
With that being said, Turner did not excel in any of the five games in Orlando. Friday (with Speights & Holiday out of the lineup) was the first time Turner led Philadelphia in scoring with just 13 points in a 29 point defeat to Utah.
Normally lottery picks have that one game during the summer league where experts and fans alike can nod and say, ‘yeah, this kid can be something.’ Nets forward Derrick Favors, Pacers forward Paul George and Jazz wing player Gordon Hayward all had ‘wow’ type of moments by the end of week.
Turner played cautiously, almost looking uncertain what to do when the ball wasn’t in his hands on offense. The rookie averaged 9.4 ppg, 5.6 rebounds and 3.4 turnovers (17 total) during the week. Turner admitted his performance was “horrible” and he clearly let it affect his attitude. Turner was whining on the court and his sagging body language after bad plays spoke for itself. Turner needs to adjust to not being “The Guy”. At Ohio State his nickname was “Mr. Everything”, so his own personal expectations are probably through the roof.
Still it wasn’t all bad for Turner. ET made some sharp passes, effectively crashed the boards and used his long arms to disrupt on defense. Turned sank all 19 of his free throws over the week. Add those components on to working with Doug Collins and Turner should be fine come October.
Turner is going to have to go through an adjustment period. He quickly figured out this week that the NBA is a different game from college. I don’t think Turner will be a rookie of the year candidate but I do think he will get his offensive game together and possibly be the reason the Sixers sneak into the playoffs.
Third year forward / center Marreese Speights was scheduled to appear in just three games in Orlando. After two so-so games, Speights posted a 20 point, 9 rebound stat line against Byron Mullens, Oklahoma City’s seven footer. Year three in an NBA career is often the most pivotal year in deciding what type of player a guy is.
It looks as if Spencer Hawes will be the starting center with the departure of Samuel Dalembert, but Speights will be the primary backup for both Hawes and Elton Brand. If the Sixers are going to be a 40 win team, Speights will play a critical factor. Every playoff NBA team has an energy big man coming off the bench— think Chris Anderson (Denver) or Anderson Varejo (Cleveland). If Speights can embrace that role and go 100% for 25 minutes a game then Philadelphia’s first round pick from 2008 will be a validated selection. If Speights struggles again this season, a trade could be possible.
Jodie Meeks caught the attention of many scouts in Orlando. For outsiders who wtached meeks in O-town it was hard to tell why Meeks struggled to find time in his 2009-2010 rookie campaign, but we here in Philadunkia nation know that the reason was former head coach Eddie Jordan’s insane rotation patterns. Meeks played with confidence sinking 33% of his threes (8-for-24) and averaged 14.6 points per game, even with a lackluster 4 point game on Friday. Doug Collins loves Meeks energy and was even impressed with the 6’4 shooting guards defensive abilities. I really think Jodie can start in the NBA. He had great chemistry with point guard Jrue Holiday on cutters to the basket. Meeks could struggle to find time with Iguodala, Turner, Louis Williams, Willie Green, Andres Nocioni and Jason Kapono on the roster, but Coach Collins sounded confident when he spoke of Meeks’ increased role.
Cedric Simmons was the one summer league roster invitee that opened a few eyes. Simmons (NC State) was a first round Draft pick in 2006 but didn’t pan out the way New Orleans had envisioned. Simmons is currently signed to play in China, but things could change if he gets a training camp invite. Simmons only averaged 6.6 points during the week but his shot selection was on point. Simmons went 12-for-18 from the floor and might be nice insurance to have in case something happens to the oft-injured Elton Brand.
Overall 76ers Grade: B-