Sixers rookie Turner sees gain from pain of Summer League

Sixers rookie Evan Turner drives on Utah's Bernard Robinson.
Sixers rookie Evan Turner drives on Utah's Bernard Robinson.
Posted: July 10, 2010

ORLANDO - Two good things happened to 76ers rookie Evan Turner yesterday:

1. He played his best game of the Summer League when he scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds in the Sixers' 85-56 loss to the Utah Jazz.

2. The Summer League ended.

The relief on Turner's face was evident after yesterday morning's game. He looked as though he had just gone through some of the roughest days of his young life.

Because he had.

"I know I have to be in shape to compete with this type of competition," he said. "It's a lot more competition, and everybody down here is playing so hard. They're playing to get or keep a job and put food on the table, and I got my butt kicked. It's the first time in a long time I've gotten my butt kicked. I'm glad it happened now instead of in November, December or January."

Turner's lack of conditioning was due to the fact he had rarely been on a basketball court since his season ended at Ohio State on March 26, when the Buckeyes lost in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament to Tennessee. Knowing he would be a high draft pick, Turner was advised to stay away from highly competitive games to avoid injury.

Meanwhile, nearly all of the players assembled for the eight teams that competed in Orlando are trying to make it in the NBA. They prepared themselves for weeks just for this week.

It wasn't a good mix for Turner.

He finished the five games in 5 days averaging 9.4 points and 5.6 rebounds. He turned the ball over a team-high 17 times and made only 13 of 39 shots from the floor (33.3 percent). Still, new coach Doug Collins wouldn't trade the week his first draft pick suffered through for anything.

"I think this was the best 8 days of Evan's life," Collins said. "As painful as it might have been, he understands the level now that you have to be at competitively and in shape to play this game. When you're not in the greatest of shape, you can't play at the highest level. It doesn't matter how good your skill level is. He'll go from here, and now he's got form now until the end of September to do what's necessary."

Collins was pleased with Jrue Holiday, Jodie Meeks and Marreese Speights, the other three players who participated this week who will be on the roster come the season opener.

"Jrue was at an incredibly high level," Collins said. "He was one of the best players here. His confidence level is really high.

"Jodie did a terrific job. He solidified with me that he could be a guy in our rotation and bring us something that we need - a high-energy guy who can make shots. He was a little bit better defensively than I thought, and I like his passion and toughness.

"And Marreese, I was very happy with the way he worked and approached it."

But most eyes were focused on Turner, who wasn't the only one here who struggled. New Jersey's Derrick Favors, who was taken with the third pick, Utah's Gordon Hayward (No. 9) and Orlando's Daniel Orton (No. 29) also struggled with their games because of a lack of conditioning.

"It was a good week, something that I needed to go through," Turner said. "Now, I'll go back to the laboratory and drawing board and get things done. Everything starts a little slow. It happened to me in college. I just have to go back and work on certain things."

Turner will head back to Ohio State for some much-needed hard workouts. He said he will move to the Philadelphia area on Aug. 1 and begin workouts with his teammates. One thing his coach wants him to improve on is his energy level.

"I have to have a high motor," Turner said. "One of the things I prided myself on in college was being able to outlast everybody. When games were done, I could have gone 10 more minutes. I have to get back to that. I'll be fine. I think this was the best thing for me. Getting my butt kicked might have been a good thing."

Six shots

Jrue Holiday, who sat out the last two games with a minor hamstring tweak, was named to the first-team all-Summer League. Jodie Meeks was named to the second team . . . Forward Jason Love (Xavier, Abington Friends) tore his right anterior cruciate ligament Thursday night in the loss to Charlotte . . . Friends' Central product Mustafa Shakur played very well for Oklahoma City, with 19 points and six assists yesterday as the Thunder beat Indiana, 77-73 . . . Evan Turner made all 19 of his foul shots. *

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