Rookie Hazing: Notes on Evan Turner's Miserable Summer League

Rookie Hazing: Notes on Evan Turner's Miserable Summer League

Oof. About as excited I was for this week of Sixers Summer League games to begin, that's about how excited I was for it to finally be over, too. That's primarily because Evan Turner, the Sixers' #2 draft pick and one of their best hopes towards redemption next season, struggled mightily the entire week, doing good things on occasion but spending most of the time looking utterly lost.

As previously detailed, in his league debut, Turner had issues finding his shot and spent too much time in foul trouble, but contributed in other ways (rebounding, passing, defense) that allowed him something of a pass for what seemed like a relatively mediocre effort. If you had told me that that was as good as things were gonna get for The Villain this week...well, I kind of wish you had told me, because it could've saved me from (or at least prepared me for) watching some heartbreakingly sub-par play from our much-hyped rook.

For the week, Turner's stats were as follows: 9.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.6 TO, 33% shooting from the field. His inability to find his own shot in the first game plagued him through all five games, as he was largely unable to beat defenders off the dribble and found few good spot-up opportunities. The first few games, the excuse being used for him was that Jrue Holiday being the primary ball handler was throwing him off, Turner having been the primary ball-handler for his team for all of last season. Then Jrue sat the next few games with minor injruies, and Evan's play tanked even further, as the team lost its last three games and The Villain rode the bench for the fourth quarter in Thursday's outing.

So what happened? Well, there are many explanations, some more satisfying than others. The one that most apologists appear to be going with is that Turner is out of game shape due to not having seriously played in several months, after essentially being shut down for the draft. This sort of rust could account for Turner's relative lack of game speed, as well as his at-times clumsy ball-handling, and it's also been pointed out that similarly highly-touted rookies like the Jazz's Gordon Hayward and the Nets' Derrick Favors had issues of their own throughout the week, though none quite like those of The Extraterrestrial.

The other primary (and significantly more troubling) explanation is that Turner simply doesn't have the athleticism to do at the NBA level what he was able to do with relative ease in college, and thus isn't able to be nearly the natural playmaker that he was for Ohio State. We all knew this was a worry, as no one ever claimed Turner to have the blinding speed of a John Wall or even a Sherron Collins, but I don't think we expected him to be quite this wooden, either. If he's not going to be able to get by anyone--not just blow by them, but get around them at all--at the very least he's going to have to significantly reinvent his game, a process that could take some time and brings no guarantee of success. (Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook thinks we should be worried about this, though he does allow that many circumstances were not in Turner's favor.) 

To their credit, Turner and Coach Doug Collins seem to be saying all the right things in response to the week's poor performance. "I got my butt kicked--it's the first time in a while I got my butt kicked," he admitted after the League was over. "Now, I'll go back to the laboratory and drawing board and get things
done [...] It happened to me in college. I
just have to go back and work on certain things." Collins, ever the spin-master, claimed the entire process as a positive. "I think this was the best 8 days of Evan's life," said Collins. "He understands the level now that you
have to be at competitively and in shape to play this game [...] He'll go from here, and now he's got form now until the end of September to do what's necessary."

In the end, this is only summer league, and one probably should not read too much into it. It's been pointed out on the Liberty Ballers forums that Jrue was similarly unimpressive in Summer League play last year. whereas by this year he led the entire league in scoring with his 19 a game. Similarly, I've seen it mentioned elsewhere that Warriors then-rookie Stephen Curry (who was dogged by similar speed/athleticism concerns as Turner) was sub-par in his debut as well, before going on to finish second in Rookie of the Year voting. Clearly, a poor week of games in Orlando in July is not nearly a reason to throw in the towel on our beloved rook.

I also don't think we should forget about this entirely, though, and at the very least, we should adjust our expectations accordingly. Even if Turner does end up an All-Star in this league, it might take some time (and a whole lot of practice and lineup mixing-and-matching) before he's able to really find his groove. But the good news is that one thing everyone seems to agree on as a positive with Turner is his high hoops IQ, so we can hope that he'll have the patience and mental werewithal to work with Collins and learn how best to use his skills on the court at the pro level.

This does mean that he probably won't average a 20/5/5 in his rookie season season like I might have hoped he would out of college--hell, he might not even start for the team next year. But we've still got a real player here with Turner, and he's got a long way to go before he can truly convince us otherwise. (Let's, uh, hope he doesn't test us too much on that, though.) 

Link: Sixers Rookie Turner Sees Gain from Pain of Summer League

NBA draft profile: Providence PG Kris Dunn

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NBA draft profile: Providence PG Kris Dunn

Kris Dunn

Position: Point guard

Height: 6-4

Weight: 205

School: Providence

Point guards are coveted on NBA rosters, and a team could land a long-term solution with Dunn. Last season, he averaged 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.5 steals in 33.0 minutes per game. The Sixers met with Dunn at the draft combine and plan to work him out as well. In order for the Sixers, who hold the first, 24th and 26th picks, to acquire Dunn, they would have to make a trade to move up in the selection order. 

Strengths
Dunn brings a physical presence to the one spot. At 6-foot-4, he has a 6-9 wingspan and can create size mismatches at the point guard position. Dunn is athletic with strong leaping abilities, which allows him to move well without the ball to the basket and attack the rim as well. While Dunn can score (16.4 points per game), he also averaged 2.5 steals per game this season.

Beyond the numbers, he has immeasurable mental strength and focus after overcoming obstacles to reach the highest level of basketball.

“You’re going to get someone who works hard every day,” Dunn said at the combine. “I like to say I’m a blue collar worker. Nothing was ever given to me and I go after it with everything I have.”

Weaknesses
As an NBA point guard, Dunn has to be disciplined running the floor. At times in college he went for the highlight play over fundamentals, resulting in turnovers (3.5 per game). He will have to improve shot selection in the pros. Dunn took 21 more field goal attempts from his junior to senior season but actually made one less year to year. He also shot 69.5 percent at the line. 

How he'd fit with the Sixers
The Sixers had a revolving door at the point guard position this season. They didn’t have a consistent starter until late December when they traded to re-acquire Ish Smith, who is a free agent this summer. Dunn could be their point guard for the future. 

NBA comparison
Dunn has been compared to Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall. At the combine, Dunn said he liked that comparison because of Wall’s defensive skillset.

Draft projection
Dunn is projected to be drafted as high as in the top five. He could be selected lower, though, given teams close to the top already have point guards.

MLB Notes: Sore left foot sidelines Red Sox's David Ortiz against Blue Jays

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MLB Notes: Sore left foot sidelines Red Sox's David Ortiz against Blue Jays

TORONTO -- Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has been scratched from the lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Blue Jays with a sore left foot.

He is day to day.

Ortiz, who leads the major leagues with 46 RBIs, 23 doubles, and 121 total bases, was hit on the foot by a pitch in the fifth inning of Saturday's 10-9 loss. Ortiz struck out on the play.

Hanley Ramirez moved from first base to DH, Travis Shaw moved from third to first and Josh Rutledge replaced Shaw at third.

Ortiz is batting .339 with 13 home runs. He has announced his intention to retire at the end of the season.

Yankees: Beltran misses Rays game with shoulder tightness
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- New York Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran is out of the starting lineup Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays because of right shoulder tightness but says he is available off the bench.

Beltran was hurt Saturday on a checked swing.

He said Sunday: "A little sore, but I'm good. I saw the doctor yesterday and he said that it should go away in a couple days, so I'm not worried."

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira didn't start for the fifth consecutive game because of neck stiffness but said he "felt pretty good" after resuming batting practice and taking grounders.

Teixeira had a cortisone shot Thursday. He said that made a "night and day difference."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi is hopeful that Teixeira can start Monday night's game at Toronto.

Royals: C Salvador Perez out 7-10 days
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez is expected to be out 7 to 10 days with a bruised left thigh after colliding with rookie third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert while catching a foul pop up in the ninth inning Saturday.

Perez had a MRI on Saturday night, which confirmed the injury was a contusion with no structural damage.

"Hopefully it's not going to require a trip to the DL," Royals manager Ned Yost said Sunday. "We're hoping he'll be back in 7 to 10 days. It could be earlier or later. We'll just have to wait and see and just manage it day to day.

"Great news, you don't want to have to put him on the DL and he's ready to play in eight days and has to sit there for another week."

The Royals recalled catcher Tony Cruz from Triple-A Omaha, where he was hitting .278 with three home runs and 20 RBIs in 31 games. Cruz has a .220 average in 229 games with St. Louis the past five years (see full story).

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