Turner vs. Wall: Battle of NBA rookies

Wizards guard John Wall , driving to the basket against the Magic, will test his mettle against Evan Turner.
Wizards guard John Wall , driving to the basket against the Magic, will test his mettle against Evan Turner.
Posted: November 02, 2010

Considering how empty the present looks for both teams, Tuesday night's game between the Washington Wizards and 76ers becomes a comparison of the future.

More specifically, a matchup of the No. 1 selection in the 2010 NBA draft, Wizards point guard John Wall, vs. the No. 2 selection in that same draft, Sixers guard Evan Turner.

Neither team has won a game, combining for five losses, but both rookies have demonstrated that there is some reason for hope.

Against the Miami Heat on opening night, Turner finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Through two games, Wall is averaging 21 points and nine assists.

"John Wall is playing 35 minutes, and he has the ball in his hands right now, and Evan is coming off the bench for us and playing a certain role," said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "I don't see anything in 'who's a better player?' or whatever. Evan is giving us a lot of good stuff, and John Wall is doing great stuff for Washington."

On Monday, the Sixers (0-3) practiced at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine before flying to Washington for Tuesday night's game.

As it will be for much of the season - especially whenever the Sixers play a top-notch rookie - Wednesday's focus will turn to the merits of each chosen player.

"I'm not really feeding into that," Turner said judiciously. "I understand me being a rookie, people are going to try to see what I'm made out of. But it's about coming out and playing and competing and not backing down."

In three games, Turner has made 42.3 percent of his shots from the floor.

"What holds him back sometimes from huge nights is he's not a guy who is a great shooter or not a volume shooter," Collins said. "But he's been terrific."

100 times. When asked if he thought he would become a point guard as his career progressed, Turner said, "It's whatever Coach sets me in at the time."

"If I could choose," Turner continued, "I'd give myself the ball 100 times, but you have to play as a team, play as a unit."

The T. In the first half of Saturday's loss to Indiana, Turner was hit with a technical foul for continual engagement of Josh McRoberts, who Turner had thought kicked him during an on-the-floor skirmish.

"I don't mind seeing that kind of fight or spunk," said Collins, who did not remove Turner from the game.

"I thought he was going to kill me," Turner said of Collins. "He understood it, I guess. It wasn't a smart play on my part."

A victory somewhere? After starting the season against two of the Eastern Conference's better teams, the Heat and the Atlanta Hawks, the Sixers have four games this week against more down-to-earth opponents: Tuesday at the Wizards, Wednesday vs. the Indiana Pacers, Friday vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers and Sunday at the New York Knicks.

No extension. The NBA deadline for extending rookie contracts was Monday at 5 p.m., meaning the Sixers decided against extending forward Thaddeus Young for a fifth season. The decision makes Young a restricted free agent as of July 1.

Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at 856-779-3844 or kfagan@phillynews.com.

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