Turner, frontcourt are areas to watch for Sixers
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Evan Turner was alone in the gym dribbling the ball on Wednesday afternoon, making crossover moves to get to various spots on the floor before pulling up for a jumper. The Sixers guard made shot after shot.
Turner had no one rebounding for him, and he had already gone through a two-plus hour practice. Still, he seemed content to be working on his game with no audience to judge his progress.
The third-year player will be in Thursday’s starting lineup against Orlando along with Jrue Holiday, Jason Richardson and Spencer Hawes. With Andrew Bynum out, Kwame Brown has assumed the starting center duties but his participation against the Magic is in question because back spasms prevented him from scrimmaging on Wednesday.
For Turner, the season that lies ahead is one he has been salivating for the past two years.
“I am glad I get to play,” Turner said. “I’ve really been off for two years, so I have time to make up and get my rhythm back. Playing situational minutes for two years, that takes a toll on your game, so I am just trying to find my niche, keep getting better and keep being in rhythm.”
Turner has the mentality of a winner. He wants to play, he believes he is deserving of the time, and he knows he will deliver.
Thaddeus Young, who is entering his sixth NBA season, wants to be a starter. He finished sixth last season in the NBA’s sixth man of the year voting after being third in 2011.
Young will be in the running for that award again this year unless there is a change of heart by head coach Doug Collins along the way.
Young admitted this year’s roster is the most competitive in his tenure with the franchise and that is contributing to his role likely remaining status quo.
“When you look down the line you say, ‘wow, that guy did what in the league?’” Young said. “It is definitely a team you would love to be on and a team you would love to see guys do well, and a team I love playing on.”
Young’s running mate off the bench for the past couple years has been Lou Williams. With Williams now an Atlanta Hawk, the dynamic of the reserve unit changes. Expect Young and Lavoy Allen to hear their names called together often this year in a combination Collins likes on the floor at the same time.
“Lavoy is a big body,” Young said. “He can guard the bigger guys and he’ll be a physical presence. He can rebound the basketball, and he can also step out and make things easier on me when he can make midrange jump shots because sometimes we make big-to-big passes in the lane.”
The size in the Sixers’ frontcourt is significantly greater than a year ago. In addition, the way the bigs are playing is opening eyes.
“Our big guys have really brought a physical element to our team, they really have,” Collins said. “They have been active around that basket. There’s been contact, and it’s been fun to see our guys play like that.”