Inside the Sixers: This may be the best of times for Sixers' Hawes, Turner, and Young

Posted: January 13, 2014

Spencer Hawes didn't like the question. Understandably so.

A confident 25-year-old, the 76ers center believes his best basketball is ahead of him.

But will it show up on a stat sheet?

The same question goes for his teammates Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner.

One could argue that there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding their futures.

Right now, they are all having career seasons, doing things even some within the organization never envisioned happening. Outside of rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams, they are the stars of the team.

Hawes, a 7-foot-1 center, is a double-double machine with three-point range. While an undersized power forward at 6-8, Young has been one of the league's hottest players since Dec. 20. And Turner was tied for 23d in the league in scoring as of Friday night.

"I think everyone has kind of settled into the types of players they can be if the opportunity presents itself," Hawes said.

However, this might be the last time it presents itself in this fashion.

There's a chance at least two of them will be shipped away by the Feb. 20 trade deadline. If so, they'll probably be used as an added piece or a situational player for a team's championship run - not a main ingredient.

Hawes could become a stretch four - a versatile power forward - or a serviceable backup center for a contender. Turner would probably come off a bench to provide instant offense. At this point, Young appears to be the player that could have the most impact somewhere else. He just won't be a superstar.

It's also doubtful that Young, Hawes, and Turner will resume their roles if they remain with the Sixers past this season.

The franchise is in the first season of what could be a three-to-four-season rebuilding process.

So don't be surprised next year when they start this summer's first-round picks along with the rookie Carter-Williams and rehabbing rookie Nerlens Noels. The goal will be let them gain experience and learn from their mistakes.

As a result, the three veterans would probably play less minutes in reserve roles.

"I think we are too young for everybody to say 'Oh you guys are done,' " Hawes said. " 'This is the best you are going to get.' I think that's an insult."

Hawes doesn't see himself as a situational stretch four. He believes free agency will take care of that.

Turner and Young both say they're not focused on the future. But they're both determined to help a team no matter what their roles will be.

"It ain't the first time it happened, big fella," Turner said of possibly having a smaller role next season. "I'm all for building the young guys, trying to get them acclimated."

To a certain extent, he wished it would have happened to him when came into the NBA.

"That's what you should do," Turner said. "You don't draft someone and sit them or having them move around. I'm all for it."

Turner said that won't change his approach to his games. He just probably won't average the team-leading 36 minutes or 19.1 points he had heading into Saturday night's home game against the New York Knicks. But the fourth-year veteran wants to be judged by what he does on the court, not how long he stays on it. To him, it's also about fulfilling your role and taking advantage of opportunities.

Young agrees.

"I've always been a person that can adapt to any situation," the seventh-year veteran said. "I've always been successful in adapting to those situations. So I don't feel like it's going to go any type of different way.

"If you can score, you can score. It you can play in this league, you can play in this league."

He's proving that he can do that at a high level when given the opportunity.

The Eastern Conference player of the week was averaging 17.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, and shooting 40.9 percent on three-pointers for the season before Saturday. He had scored 20 or more points in eight of the Sixers' previous 10 games.

Meanwhile, Hawes ranked ninth in the NBA in three-point shooting at 43.9 percent. He had also averaged 14.2 points and 8.6 rebounds.

"I think all three of us, our best years are ahead of us," said Hawes, another seven-year veteran.


It's just hard to imagine them getting these types of opportunities next season.


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