Recently Evan Turner had a teleconference with NBA.com where he addressed numerous topics concerning his background, adjusting to NBA life, and the city of Philadelphia. Below are some of the questions and answers that I believe provide some insight into Turner as a person and as a basketball player. Also, I've included my thoughts as to what he meant with his answers and what they truly imply. The entire transcript can be viewed here.
Q: What's the best advice that you received so far, maybe in the summer league or since you've gotten to the NBA? How have you employed it into your game?
A: Definitely just realize that it's a long journey. Hopefully I'll have a long career. I just need to take it day by day and work on getting better without putting too much pressure on myself.
This is exactly what you want to hear out of a highly-drafted rookie. There are too many guys who come into the league thinking that the weight of their team in on their shoulders and the pressure ends up stunting their growth as a player. Turner seems to realize that there is already an established All-Star caliber player on his team so he does not have to be "The Man" every game like he was at OSU.
Q: Talking about your game in general, which areas do you think you are NBA ready, and what areas do you think need improvement?
A: I think my mid-range is pretty good. I think I have a pretty good IQ and I can rebound well for my size. I need to get better at long-range shooting and defense. NBA games are completely different games; you think a little quicker, be faster and put yourself in the right positions.
Is this kid really a rookie? Again, Turner says all the right things and seems to realize exactly what he needs to work on. He made just 36% of his three point attempts in college where the three-point line is 2-3 feet shorter than the NBA three-point line, depending on the location of the attempt. No one is expecting him to become Ray Allen overnight but incremental progress would be nice. He will also get more favorable shot attempts now that he won't have to create his shot every time and can spot up at times. That's certainly worked for Jason Kidd and Grant Hill with Dallas and Phoenix, respectively. Kidd's two best seasons in terms of 3P% have come in the past two years in Dallas since he can just spot up and shoot it once Nowitzki kicks it out when he's double teamed. Hill has made more three-pointers in his three seasons in Phoenix than he made in his previous 12 seasons in the league combined thanks in part to Steve Nash creating shots for Hill. In Philly, Iggy can create shots for Turner and Brand can (hopefully) draw an occasional double team and just let Turner spot up.
Q: Who would you compare your game to either past or present in the NBA right now?
A: I think Brandon Roy and everything like that. I think he's a great player with great talent as well.
I think that this is a good comparison as both Roy and Turner were point forwards coming out of college who had questions about their athleticism and long-range shooting. I said before that there are many parallels between Turner and Grant Hill (the Detroit version) and obviously both being coached by Doug Collins is one of them. Another comparison could be made to Joe Johnson. Johnson has size and athleticism over Turner but both have questions about their efficiency in terms of turning the ball over too often and poor shot selection. So I guess we could say that Turner has the strengths of Roy, the weaknesses of Johnson, and the intangibles of Grant Hill. That sounds like a pretty good player.
Q: Anything in particular that you are working on during the shoot drills?
A: I'm just working on my overall game. I am trying to focus a little more on coming off screens and my ball handling.
This confirms the thought that Iggy and Jrue Holliday will be the main ball-handlers despite Turner's playmaking skills. At a legit 6'7", Turner should have a height advantage over nearly every shooting guard in the league. Hopefully the Sixers coaches utilize him in the post some where he can use his size to his advantage. That was something we didn't see out of Turner at OSU because he was often guarded by opposing team's power forwards since he was the second tallest player in the Buckeyes' starting five.
Q: How much, if any, five on five did you play after the tournament, leading up to the draft? For the Summer League did you think you were in game shape?
A: I probably played one or twice after the tournament. For summer league I did not feel like I was in game shape. I was definitely heavier, I just wasn't in shape. Right before summer was the draft so I was busy dealing with the press conferences. We had to report to training camp right after the services. I did feel well acclimated and I didn't have time to get in better shape.
If you think that the summer was busy, wait until the actual season starts. Over a span of five days you could play four games in three different cities which is a far cry from the two games per week you play in college. But at least we now have a confirmed reason for Turner's sloppy summer league performances (9.4 ppg on 33% shooting, 3.4 turnovers/game, 2.8 apg). Now that he's signed a $12 million contract, Turner should be able to afford a personal nutritionist if the team doesn't already have one on its staff.
Q: Do you think you can beat him (Michael Jordan) one-on-one?
A: Right now? I sure hope I could. He's not really in basketball shape anymore.
I know MJ is 47, got beat by Gerald Henderson in HORSE, and is probably about 240 lbs.; but I don't know if the rook (or anyone) can still stop that fadeaway. It's like Kareem's skyhook; people tried for years to come up with a way to defend it but they never truly could. It's nice to see that Turner has some confidence in his game but I'm not sure that he could hang with the GOAT on a game to 10. Now if they were playing 21 or a full-court game then the outcome may be different.
The thing that I most came away with was the fact that Turner is learning how to play off the ball. No less than three times during the teleconference he mentioned that he's working on playing off-guard and this is likely the first time in his basketball career that he's not going to have the ball in his hands most of the time. That is certainly a clear indication that Collins' offensive approach has Andre Iguodala as its focal point and Turner will be, more or less, Iggy's wingman.