By Nick Peruffo
Since being the first player not named John Wall selected in the 2010 NBA Draft, life hasn’t been so easy for Ohio State standout Evan Turner. Unlike Wall, Turner has adapted slowly to the NBA, having rode coach Doug Collins’ minutes seesaw for most of the season.
The biggest knock on Turner thus far has been his inability to hit open jumpers, a flaw not easily forgivable for an NBA two guard. The Sixers rookie is currently shooting just over 40 percent for the field and 23 percent from 3-point land on the young season.
“Evan’s not a great shooter,” Collins admitted after Turner’s seven point, 2-of-14 performance Monday night against the Hornets in New Orleans. “In the offseason that’s one of the areas he’s going to have to work on. He’s got some technical flaws in his shot, he gets his left hand up on top of the ball and the ball down on his palm. That’s why he shoots a heavy ball up there.”
Turner has his own assessment of why his jumper is lacking.
“I think the most important thing is just lift,” Turner said. “Since I’ve been shooting line drives, I haven’t really been thinking too much about how I’m shooting it. I need to get my legs stronger, and when I get rushed, focus a little bit more.”
Since Andre Iguodala’s recent bout of Achilles tendonitis, Turner has been seeing more burn, but consistent minutes have yet to equate to consistent production. He showed his brightest glimpse of potential Dec. 29th against Phoenix, dropping 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Unfortunately for the Sixers, Monday’s box score has been more indicative of Turner’s season.
When asked about the biggest difference between the college and pro games, Turner gives an unsurprising answer: speed and length.
“The speed is so quick you can’t really crash the boards or hang around,” Turner said. “You really have to get back because teams can score in two seconds. That could lead to you heading to the bench. [Also] just the length of players, players are so long. I might go in, and get welcomed to the league again and again by shot blockers. You just have to get used to things like that.”
Despite Turner’s up and down season, Collins remains upbeat about the 2010 NCAA Player of the Year.
“You can’t reconstruct a shot during the season, but my suggestion to him this summer is to get with someone he really trusts and really works,” Collins said. “Because Evan, he can rebound, he can defend, he can play multiple positions for us, so he’s so valuable for our team.”
Turner, likewise, believes his early struggles will just be temporary.
“That stuff will come,” Turner said. “I hit tons of mid-range shots in college. That stuff is coming. I’m definitely going to work on it every single day. Its coming, you can’t rush it.”
Turner seems to be taking some of the lessons that led him to success at Ohio State with him to Philadelphia.
“I think things are going up and up. Coach [Thad] Matta always stressed being optimistic. That’s all you can do.”