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Philadelphia 76ers: Evan Turner in Make-or-Break Season

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COMMENTARY | Great expectations come with being the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA draft.

For Evan Turner, it doesn't matter that in another year he would've been selected a lot later or that he'd be a solid role player on a more successful team. It comes down to the fact that he's been an average player not necessarily worthy of being selected so high in the draft.

This season, however, he has his best chance to prove the critics otherwise.

The Philadelphia 76ers are devoid of any stars. The team traded its top scorer from last year, who also happened to be its top ball-handler and playmaker. While the team isn't expected to win many games, the team will still score at least 70 points a game and someone will have to get those points.

It seems like Evan Turner, at least before the trade deadline, will be that guy for Philadelphia. In a contract year, now is the time to show what he can -- or cannot -- bring to the table.

New Sixers head coach Brett Brown seems willing to give Turner a chance at a more increased role and has said positive things about him this off-season.

In separate Philadelphia Inquirer pieces written by Keith Pompey, Brown has said that Evans "has a lot of areas where he can really blossom," and, "He is a talent." He also has said that he is one of "six NBA players" on the team's roster, as opposed to the "bunch of guys who are fighting for spots and want to be seen and need an opportunity."

Without All-Star Jrue Holliday this season and with rookie Michael Carter-Williams taking over the reigns as the starting point guard, expect to see Turner help out with ball-handling responsibilities as the rookie learns the ropes.

With the ball in his hands, Turner can do more driving to the basket rather than be the spot-up-shooter he has been designed as early in his career in Philadelphia.

Turner needs to get to the basket more often this season in order to make himself and the team play better.

Last season, Turner averaged a career high with 13.3 points per game but shot a career-low 41.9 percent from the field. He's a career 42.8-percent shooter. Long-range shooting isn't a strength of his and shooting from closer range should help his shooting efficiency and scoring numbers.

The 76ers were 29th in the league in free throw tries last season. Wins are tough to come by when you're not getting to the line and picking up some free points. General knowledge says attacking the basket draws more contact and more foul calls than shooting jump shots.

Also, the 76ers are a very poor rebounding team. They were tied for 18th in the league in offensive rebounds per game, 20th in total rebounds per game and 25th in rebound differential. Turner wasn't the best shooter from distance, which means there are more rebounding opportunities, something that the team struggled with.

Also, the farther out one shoots from, the longer the potential rebound is. The longer the rebound, the easier it is for the defense to go out on a fastbreak, leading to easier baskets for the other team.

In one of the previous mentioned Pompey articles, Brown mentioned helping Turner find his joy in the game once again. Joy won't necessarily come from wins this year, but if he can create offense rather than play a rather stagnant position, that may help.

Opening up Turner's options on offense could unearth some hidden potential that he hasn't been able to expose yet. It will be on Turner, however, to increase his shooting percentage and to get to the line more often.

This season will show what Turner brings to the table and if he can play at a higher level, or if he is merely a rotation guy without much upside. His next contract depends on this season.

Phil Shore lives in New Jersey and is the creator and editor of Shore Thing Sports blog. He's been published in The Boston Globe,,, and New England Lacrosse Journal.

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