Sixers' young backcourt eager to start

Posted: June 27, 2010

Thursday evening, in the giddy moments after the 76ers took Evan Turner with the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft, point guard Jrue Holiday walked into the Wachovia Center's pressroom.

The Sixer's demeanor was calm, but on the inside he had to be excited.

The selection of Turner, a shooting guard, gives the Sixers, on paper, one of the NBA's best young backcourts.

Arguably, the combination of a 20-year-old rising star in Holiday and a 21-year-old quiet scoring threat in Turner will be productive for at least the next decade.

"That sounds great to me," Holiday said. "That's what everybody keeps on saying.

"It honestly means a lot [coming] from the city of Philadelphia that they believe in me and Evan to come in for the next decade and take over."

But there's an important question: How does the addition of Turner affect Lou Williams?

Remember him? He began last season as the Sixers' starting point guard.

"People sort of feel now that he's the odd man out," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "I don't want him to feel that way. So much is being talked about Jrue. So much is being talked about Evan."

As a result, Collins and Williams talked for an hour Thursday about the player's future. The coach told Williams not to assume that anyone already has been anointed a starter.

"My big question with Lou was, 'If you don't start, can you be part of a terrific three-guard rotation?' " Collins said. "If that were to happen, he could come in off the bench and be an amazing player for us."

Williams said he would welcome that role as long as he is given an opportunity to start, according to Collins.

But cracking the starting lineup won't be easy for the former second-round pick.

Turner fills an immediate need at shooting guard. Holiday has proved that he is by far the Sixers' best option at the point. However, the youthful guards must cut down on their turnovers before being considered an elite tandem.

Holiday averaged 2.1 turnovers while starting 51 games last season as a rookie. Turner averaged a glaring 4.4 turnovers last season at Ohio State.

"Well, it goes back to maturity," Collins said of becoming a better ball handler. "You know Jrue, I think you saw last year, as the season went on, how much he grew."

It could be argued that Turner's giveaways were the result of late-game fatigue and defenders' loading up on him.

"I know I can speak for myself, probably Evan, too," Holiday said. "We've looked at the older guys like Jason Kidd and Steve Nash, and studied their game.

"Even though we are young, I feel like I'm experienced. Evan seems like he's experienced."

Eager to have Holiday and Turner play together, the Sixers have assigned them to their Orlando Summer League team.

The Sixers will arrive in Orlando on July 1 and practice before playing five games on five consecutive days beginning July 5.

Holiday and Turner are not approaching the trip as an all-expense-paid vacation near Walt Disney World.

"I'm going to take that very seriously," Turner said. "Jrue and I have an opportunity to play with each other and get acclimated to each other's game. This is really important for preparation and prepping for the season."

Even though Holiday and Turner are young, the Sixers expect to improve on last season's 27-55 campaign.

"I don't ever like to use a guy's age as an excuse," Collins said. "You look at the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have only been in the league a short period of time. You saw the improvement in that team this year."


Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029 or kpompey@phillynews.com.

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