Fatigue showing for Turner, but Sixers aren't worried

Sixers' Evan Turner collides with Oklahoma City Thunder's James Harden during summer league game yesterday. Oklahoma City won, 89-80.
Sixers' Evan Turner collides with Oklahoma City Thunder's James Harden during summer league game yesterday. Oklahoma City won, 89-80.
Posted: July 08, 2010

ORLANDO - Since last Thursday, the team the Sixers have assembled for the Pro Summer League has been on the basketball court as much as a family visiting theme parks down here is on its feet. There have been some two-a-days, and, on the morning of games, they get in another hour. It's been a lot of basketball, a lot of learning from new coach Doug Collins, and not a lot of time to rest the bodies.

"I'm so tired," center Marreese Speights said after yesterday's 89-80 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the RDV Sportsplex.

He's not the only one. And the one player seemingly fatigued the most is Evan Turner. He struggled again in yesterday's game, scoring four points (on just six shots) in a little more than 27 minutes. He committed six fouls (it's a no foul-out league) and turned the ball over three times. He is a step slow and, at times, seems to think the game will wait for him. Only that doesn't happen when you're playing against guys who are fighting for a career in basketball.

Still, there is not even a hint of panic from Collins or general manager Ed Stefanski that the No. 2 overall pick will stay in his funk.

"Nothing has surprised me," Stefanski said. "I think Evan is just trying to figure out the whole thing, from how the NBA game works, from the officials to the defense and things like that. Last year, Jrue Holiday went through the same thing. Jrue was struggling getting by people and now people just can't stay in front of him. The same thing Jrue went through last year, Evan is going through now."

Part of the problem, Stefanski and Collins have said, is Turner's conditioning.

"I don't think he's in game condition," Stefanski said. "He hasn't played a game in a long time and now we've played three games in 3 days. Before that, he really hadn't played at all since Ohio State lost in the [NCAA] tournament [on March 26]. And it's not his fault. With him predicted to be such a high pick [his handlers] shut him down [to prevent injury]. You can work out all you want, [but] unless you play five-on-five you're not going to get there. I think he's definitely been hurt by that.

"You can see how good he is and how he makes plays. Defensively was one thing I wanted to see, and he's done very well. He rebounds the ball [eight more yesterday]. The other stuff is not coming because of the pace of the game, but that will come."

Collins fully agrees.

"You've got to play with a motor," he said. "When we get Evan where we want to get him in shape, he'll start playing with that motor that you have to have. You're playing a high-energy position. Right now, you can see the angst is there. Anybody who has played in this league has had to go through it. He'll grow from it and he's going to be fine. I'm glad it's happening now because he's got time to do something about it. He's got about 90 good days [until training camp] to get himself in the kind of shape that he needs to be in to play for us and do what we need him to do."

By comparison, Derrick Favors, the third overall pick of the New Jersey Nets, has also struggled in the league. Yesterday, against Orlando, he picked up five fouls in 10 minutes of play, which has been the norm. He also seems hurt by lack of conditioning.

One player who isn't lacking is Holiday. The second-year guard has been one of, if not the, top players in the league. Yesterday, he scored 25 points and dealt five assists. His game has become silky smooth, and confidence seems to be oozing from his pores as much as the sweat does during games.

"Jrue is so good. He is so good," Collins said. "That's why I'm so excited. [The NBA] is a point guard-driven league and when you get a young kid like that, who has that kind of confidence . . . He's got a real great demeanor about himself. He's communicating and that's one of the things I was trying to get him to do. He's young, but he could be very special. He can guard that ball and he's going to be the key to our defense."

Game notes

The Sixers fell behind by 15 early to the Thunder and could never climb back into the game. Marreese Speights played well, scoring 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds. He was very active around the basket at both ends of the floor. His offseason conditioning seems to be paying off. Jodie Meeks went for 16 despite making just four of 14 shots from the floor. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished four assists. He has looked good in the three games.

James Harden, whom Doug Collins mentored while Harden was at Arizona State, scored 21 for Oklahoma City, going 15-for-18 from the line. Friends' Central product Mustafa Shakur scored 11 points and had a game-high six assists for the Thunder. The Sixers play the Charlotte Bobcats at 7 tonight before closing out the league with a 10 a.m. game tomorrow against the Utah Jazz.

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