There is much to be excited about for Sixers fans as we head into the 2012-2013 season. As the Cinderella story of the Eastern Conference last season, the Sixers stunned the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs (with some help from Derrick Rose’s knee) and pushed the Boston Celtics to a deciding seventh game in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.
The Sixers ranked 3rd overall in points allowed per game in 2011-2012 led by a strong team defensive philosophy, but ranked just 22nd in points scored per game. So while confidence was at its highest since 2001, there is still a lot of incentive to try to improve on the offensive side of the ball.
Then came the jaw-dropping 4-team blockbuster trade of which the Sixers were the unheralded winner. While Dwight Howard landing in LA got all of the attention, Philly quietly addressed their issues on offensive by acquiring Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson. However, the Sixers had to let go of their centerpiece in Andre Iguodala, and with Bynum still rehabbing his knee the Sixers will need to find a focal point for their new-look offense.
ENTER: Evan Turner.
The No. 2 overall pick from 2010 hasn’t started his career as strong as Sixer fans had hoped. Slow starts the last two seasons helped him find the bench early on and inconsistencies in his game have kept his playing time modest. In March of last year, Turner found his groove and posted some solid numbers, but inconsistency landed him back on the bench until the playoffs.
This season will be much different. The Sixers ranked 3rd overall in points allowed per game in 2011-2012, but ranked just 22nd in points scored per game. The additions of Richardson (career .372 3pt shooter) and Nick Young (career .378 3pt shooter) will add to a 3-point game that was almost non-existent last season where they attempted just 14.6 3-pointers per game (25th in the league). This will also stretch the floor and give Turner more scoring lanes.
Turner will be taking the starting role vacated by Iguodala, who is now in Denver, and won’t have to share time. Sixers head coach Doug Collins has confidence in Turner’s abilities, but understand that in order to be successful, he can’t put too much pressure on himself.
“Collins understands that it is almost impossible for the 6-foot-7 Turner not to put pressure on himself to be more productive, particularly at the offensive end. To that end, Collins is trying to relieve some of that pressure.” (John N. Mitchell – Philadelphia Inquirer).
A Turner goes, so will the Sixers. Spencer Hawes and local fan-favorite Lavoy Allen can fill in defensively for Bynum and still help the team be effective. But there is no replacement for Turner is he fails to be the dynamic player he is thought to be. Collins will try to help him perform better by trying less.
“Evan is such a perfectionist,” said Collins, “and I can relate to that because I am, too. But I would just like for him to be able to do the things that he does great. Rebound the ball. Push the ball in the open court. Make plays and defend. Just let all those things happen. Evan wants to be great, and we want him to be great.”
A lot of attention will be given to the progress of Andrew Bynum’s knees and whether or not he can last a full season, but my eye will be on Evan Turner from the start. If he can develop a more confident and consistent game, and Bynum can stay on the court, the Philadelphia 76ers could pose a very real threat to the Miami Heat’s chances of a repeat.
About the Author
Written by Scott Lentz
I am an independent filmmaker, freelance blogger, communications professional and loving husband.