Why can't Sixers build around Hawes, Turner, Young?

Posted: November 06, 2013

HERE IS a question to ponder with the Sixers catching everyone off guard with their quick start this season.

Why can't Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young be part of the organization's long-term plan for rebuilding?

With the Sixers looking to maximize their prospects for the 2014 draft, the assumption has been that at some point Hawes, Turner and Young would be traded for more draft picks and/or salary-cap space.

But why does that have to be the primary option, especially if the veteran trio continues to perform the way they have early in the season?

I understand the fascination with the 2014 draft, especially if, as expected, "Fab Four" freshmen Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon all declare.

At this stage of the game, the Sixers need one of these players to add to the mix, and a top-4 selection would guarantee that.

With the Golden State Warriors slapping the Sixers back to reality with a 110-90 victory last night at the Wells Fargo Center, that is still the most likely outcome.

Still, one player, no matter how talented, does not make a NBA championship team by himself. Even Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal needed quality teammates to help them get fitted for their first diamond-encrusted title rings.

So even if the Sixers hit pay dirt and land the rights to Wiggins, who is being called the best prospect since James, he's going to need help.

That cannot just be in the form of point guard Michael Carter-Williams, even though he joined O'Neal as the only rookie to be named Eastern Conference Player of the Week to start his career, and currently injured rookie big man Nerlens Noel.

You're going to need some veterans to lead the youngsters, ones who have shown they understand the workings of the Association on and off the court.

Why can't Hawes, Turner and Young be that presence for the Sixers moving forward? It makes a lot of sense, especially if Turner and Hawes truly have had a "lightbulb on" moment in their careers.

Like everything during this surprising, 3-1 start, things must be qualified by "it's still very early," but if you are Sixers president/general manager Sam Hinkie and your initial plans were to trade Hawes and Turner, how can you not at least be reconsidering?

If you're starting a rebuild from scratch with a 3- to 4-year window to become a contender, what's wrong with having a 6-7, 25-year-old swingman who can get you 20 points a game, shoot around 50 percent, contribute assists and rebounds, plus play a little defense?

That's what the Sixers could have in Turner if he plays at this pace for the entire season. Suddenly, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft wouldn't look like a wasted one.

If you are supposedly at ground zero, wouldn't it be good to have a 25-year-old, 7-footer who can be a matchup nightmare because he can step away from the basket with range out to the three-point arc?

While it is unlikely Hawes will continue at his current pace of 15.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, his averages of about 10 points and more than seven rebounds the last two seasons warrant finding significant minutes for him in any future rotation.

Every player can't be LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose or Carmelo Anthony out of the gate. In fact, the vast majority are not.

Top prospects are usually young and inexperienced. Most high draft picks are selected based on upside rather than accomplishment. Many end up needing several years of development before they max their potential at the NBA level.

Under the tutelage of new Sixers coach Brett Brown, Turner and Hawes are showing they could be late bloomers. That possibility is something worth monitoring throughout this season.

The funny thing is that I am just getting around to Young. He is the veteran the Sixers need to hold on to the most. Simply put, Young is a professional's professional. Everything about the way he conducts himself on and off the court shouts loudly that he is a guy who you want as a role model for youngsters like Carter-Williams, Noel, Tony Wroten and whomever the Sixers get in the next draft.

Although Young is starting his seventh NBA season, he had just turned 19 when the Sixers drafted him in 2007. At 25, he's got plenty of mileage left.

I'm not sure how you put a value on a guy who literally does everything asked of him - every practice, every game, every season. Think of what Allen Iverson said the presence of Aaron McKie, another pro's pro, did for him and you'll understand what Young would mean to a team loaded with second-year players and rookies.

On the court, you can usually book Young for 13 to 15 points, five to seven rebounds and 30 to 35 minutes of gritty, lunch-box work every game.

With a salary of under $10 million through the 2015-16 season, Young is cap friendly with regard to what the Sixers want to do. Whatever Hinkie could get in a trade for Young - a late first-round pick and/or an expiring contract - would not equal the positive intangibles the Sixers would get from keeping him on the roster.

Obviously, with Hawes (unrestricted) and Turner (restricted) becoming free agents at the end of the season, their value on the open market has to be taken into consideration.

You don't pay stupid money to keep them.

Still, if I were running the Sixers and I had three veterans entering the prime of their careers, I'd be thinking more about reasons why I should keep them as opposed to trading them.


Email: smallwj@phillynews.com

Columns: ph.ly/Smallwood

Blog: ph.ly/DNL

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