Young Sixers will look to veteran trio for guidance

Leaders by default: Evan Turner (12), Spencer Hawes (00) and Thaddeus Young have uncertain futures with the 76ers.
Leaders by default: Evan Turner (12), Spencer Hawes (00) and Thaddeus Young have uncertain futures with the 76ers. (STEVEN M. FALK/Staff)
Posted: October 30, 2013

One aspect of a push for a younger team is the potential loss of leadership and veteran influence on the roster. Young players still need veteran role models to show them how things should be done and explain what they are not doing correctly.

The Sixers are depending on three players - Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, and Spencer Hawes - who might not be in their future plans to handle those duties. So far, the longest-tenured Sixers have done just that despite the uncertainty.

"At times, they give insightful stuff to the young guys," said rookie Sixers head coach Brett Brown, whose team opens the season against the Miami Heat at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday. "I just respect how they approach this. They've really been good for me."

But it can be argued that the Sixers' situation is not a good one for the three veterans in the prime of their careers.

Young, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound power forward, is in his seventh NBA season - all with the Sixers. Turner and Hawes came to the franchise in the summer of 2010. Turner, a 6-7 fourth-year swingman, was the team's second overall pick after his junior season at Ohio State. Hawes, a 7-1 seventh-year center, came to Philadelphia in a trade with the Sacramento Kings.

The trio is two seasons removed from being on a team that took the Boston Celtics to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

"That's always your goal," Hawes said of playing for a contender. "You want to win every game and you want to be a part of a winning team and something special. That's always your goal and you always have to have that kind of mind-set."

That won't happen with the Sixers this season.

The team began the tanking process when it traded away all-star point guard Jrue Holiday for injured rookie center Nerlens Noel and was not active in free agency. The Sixers will open the season with a roster loaded with youthful NBA fringe players.

They have only six players with more than two seasons of NBA experience. That's part of the reason they are concentrating more on player development than game schemes.

"Us as vets - me, Evan, and Spencer - we've been here long enough and we've been in this game long enough to see every different scheme, every different offensive strategy," Young said. "Every different pick-and-roll. Everything. We've been here to see all of that.

"So it's been the stuff that we are teaching. It's kind of like we are reteaching over and over and over again."

Young conceded that it requires a lot of patience.

"Because we've seen it," he said. "We've done it. We already know what to expect, what to do. It makes it a little bit hard."

Perhaps the hardest part is being asked to help a team that might not be committed to your future.

Turner and Hawes are in the final season of their contracts. It's unlikely that they will be re-signed. Young is under contract through next season and has a player option for 2015-16. There's a chance that all three veterans could be traded this season.

"Yeah, it is hard, but like I said, it requires a lot of patience . . . and staying calm," Young said of the uncertainty. "Me personally, I've been here the last seven years and love every bit of the seven years that I've been here and hope it continues.

"But at the end of the day, you still know and you still have it at the end of your mind that I can be traded any day. Like I said, it's a business."

Despite the uncertainty, the three are the vocal leaders of the Sixers.

They're the ones in the middle of post-practice huddles saying encouraging things to teammates. They're the ones Brown will ask to keep the locker room loose when the losses start to mount. They're the ones who probably are going to lead the team in most statistical categories.

"I just take it one day at a time," said Turner, who is confident that he'll continue his NBA career after this season no matter what happens. "Like I said, I'll be somewhere next year. All that other stuff doesn't really bother me.

"When you have teammates, you try to work with them and help them out. And that's it."


kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.inquirer.com/deepsixer

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