Turner striving to be among NBA's elite players

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Turner striving to be among NBA's elite players

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Evan Turner is the 19th-leading scorer in the NBA, tied with Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul. Both players are averaging 19.6 points.

While Turner is not in Paul’s class, one could easily argue that he is the least talked about top scorer in the league this season.

Yes, the Sixers are just 11-21 this season. But with the minimal success the team has experienced this season, it seems that most of the praise goes toward Rookie of the Year front runner Michael Carter-Williams, the improved Thaddeus Young or a steady Spencer Hawes.

Turner is averaging a career-best 6.7 rebounds, as well as 4.2 assists this season.

However, there is still a belief that Turner can and should be doing more on the court.

“Copping the brunt of it is too harsh, but Evan is trying to please. He is trying to share the ball,” Brown prior to the Sixers’ win over the Kings.

“He bested college basketball and then there was a stage early on where he was trying to force too much, playing in a crowd. We have challenged him to get other people involved. He needs to take that attack mentality that he does have and get other people involved.”

Early in the season when Turner had scored 20-plus points in nine of his first 10 games, there were rumblings that the fourth-year swingman might be able to crack the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

Turner went through a rough patch that quieted most of that chatter, but that hasn’t slowed down his desire to reach that All-Star level.

“I am taking the right steps to acclimating myself as a premier player in the league,” Turner said. “I want to keep getting better, gaining rhythm and confidence, and that is the biggest thing whether I get a call in February or not. I think it is just about being acclimated and asserting myself. That is the biggest thing for my mental as opposed to anything else.”

Sixers Injury Update: Simmons rolls ankle, taken for precautionary imaging

Sixers Injury Update: Simmons rolls ankle, taken for precautionary imaging

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- Ben Simmons rolled his right ankle during scrimmage on the final day of training camp. He was taken for precautionary imaging. The results have not yet been completed.

Jerryd Bayless did not scrimmage because of a sore left wrist, which the team continues to monitor. He sat out of Thursday's scrimmage for the same reason.

Jahlil Okafor participated in Friday's scrimmage in accordance to his load management. The Sixers are being cautious with players as they return from injury. Okafor underwent right knee surgery last season. 

Sergio Rodriguez ready for 'opportunity' of 2nd NBA stint

Sergio Rodriguez ready for 'opportunity' of 2nd NBA stint

GALLOWAY, N.J. — It’s Round 2 for Sergio Rodriguez.

Ten years after beginning his first stint in the NBA, he is back as a veteran point guard on the Sixers. The green 20-year-old is now 30, with European and Olympic experience behind him. Rodriguez is looking to build upon his previous four NBA seasons, which culminated in 2010, in a leadership role in Philadelphia.

“It feels great,” Rodriguez said Thursday after the training camp morning session at Stockton University. “It’s a second opportunity for me.”

Rodriguez played three seasons for the Trail Blazers from 2009-10 and split his fourth year with the Kings and Knicks. He averaged a quiet 4.3 points, 2.9 assists and 1.3 rebounds in 13.2 minutes per game. Rodriguez returned to his native Spain and found a higher level of success, including winning the EuroLeague title with Real Madrid, being named EuroLeague MVP, and competing in the Olympics. Last season Rodriguez averaged 10.9 points (40.9 percent from three), 6.2 assists and 2.2 rebounds in 24 minutes for Real Madrid. 

Head coach Brett Brown considers Rodriguez one of the top point guards that had played in Europe. 

“He just has a real gift for understanding, especially offensive tempo,” Brown said. “I think that his ability to run a pick-and-roll and figure out how teams are playing it and where they’re rotating from about a pass sooner, one dribble sooner so he can pick off rotations. He’s very gifted in that environment. I think he’s got a bounce to his game and a pace to his game that he will be absorbed in how I want to play well.”

Both Brown and Rodriguez anticipate challenges on the defensive end as Rodriguez re-acclimates himself in the NBA. He will be tasked with guarding some of the league’s toughest point guards, and will also be involved in numerous pick-and-rolls each game. 

After years of playing in Spain, Rodriguez has to get to know a new group of players. He considers the responsibility of a point guard to be getting his entire team involved, particularly with all the youth on the SIxers.

“I will try to feel comfortable for my teammates. For a point guard, you need to have the confidence that everybody is happy playing with you,” Rodriguez said, also noting, “Always the point guard has to run the show. Especially for this team, we have so many young players that need to develop and need to know how to win.” 

So far that is working.

“Sergio’s great,” Nerlens Noel said. “He’s a real vocal leader, even with that little accent he’s got. He makes it work. I think as the season goes along, we’ll continue to get on the same page and really start to mesh a little better.” 

Rodriguez left the NBA as a young guard and is now ready to make a comeback with years of experience. 

"I’m very excited to have this upcoming season and to be successful for my team, my teammates, the organization," he said.