There are a lot of new faces on the Philadelphia 76ers roster this season. The Sixers also have some familiar faces as well.
Evan Turner is one of them.
Turner will be entering his third season, and this should be a big year for him. Although the Sixers returning players Thaddeus Young, Jrue Holiday, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen should provide some guidance and direction, Turner will have to exhibit some leadership skills as well.
“I think the most important is the guys looking forward to lead,” Turner said. “We have some new guys looking for direction. We have some leaders who are willing to listen.”
Turner, 23, was selected by the Sixers with the second pick overall in the 2010 NBA draft out of Ohio State. The 6-foot-7, 205-pound guard, has shown improvement each year. As a rookie, he averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists a game. Last season, he tallied 9.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists. But Turner really took his game to another level in the postseason averaging 12.8 points and 7.9 rebounds a contest.
The Sixers defeated the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs in six games. After that, they gave the Boston Celtics all they could handle in the Eastern Conference semifinals before losing in seven games. Turner had a chance to gain some meaningful experience in the playoffs.
“It obviously helped me going up against Hall of Fame guards in every series,” Turner said. “That was key for myself and Jrue. We know what to expect now. We know what type of level we have to crank it up to.”
With the addition of all-star center Andrew Bynum (currently recovering from a bone bruise) and shooting guard Jason Richardson, the Sixers have added a lot of depth. But gone is all-star guard Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets, which should open the door for Turner in regards to his development. He spent a lot of time working on his game during the offseason.
“It’s an establishing year,” Turner said. “I’ve got to earn my minutes. I’ve got to earn the right to play and from there try to crank it up a notch.”
Aaron McKie, Sixers assistant coach, has seen Turner put in a great deal of time to improve his game.
“Evan sets the standards high for himself,” McKie said. “Sometimes I worry whether he’s putting too much pressure on himself where some things you have to let happen. But I like that in a guy because he really wants it. He wants to be a leader. He wants to be the guy and it’s a process, but that’s the process he’s willing to take on.”
Turner recently displayed some leadership skills at the “What It Takes 8” program, which was held at the National Constitution Center, Fifth and Arch streets. He got a chance to speak to a number of Philadelphia students.
“I think the youth is the way,” Turner said. “I was one of those kids sitting in the seats trying to learn from a successful person. It’s all about giving back most of that stuff goes a long way. I’m all for giving back and investing in the youth. I was glad I was asked to do it.”
Turner will lead the Sixers in their first preseason game against the Orlando Magic from the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. The Sixers first preseason game at home will be on Oct. 15 against the Boston Celtics at 7 p.m.