With a new general manager, new head coach and an overhauled roster, the Philadelphia 76ers have gone into rebuilding mode. Some may say the Sixers are "tanking" in order to have the best chance at Canadian phenom Andrew Wiggins, the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
But don't tell Evan Turner that.
Despite the low expectations for the team, Turner told Tom Moore of PhillyBurbs.com that he and recently hired head coach Brett Brown have no intentions of purposely trying to wind up with the league's worst record:
"I told him, ‘Everybody wants to be in tank mode and thinks we're going to lose. I intend on trying to win as much as possible because losing's too easy,'" Turner said. "He said, ‘Well, they got the wrong coach if we're going to go out and lose on purpose. We want to compete and get better.'"
With the Sixers rebuilding, Turner finds himself in an interesting spot next season. The No. 2 pick in the 2010 draft, Turner is in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract, so he'll have motivation to play his best in order to earn himself a nice payday in the summer of 2014.
Turner will certainly have plenty of opportunity to shine in Philadelphia this upcoming season. Jrue Holiday is gone, and while Michael Carter-Williams was drafted to replace him, Turner should have more ball-handling and scoring responsibilities. Turner had a lot of success at Ohio State as a point-forward type who dominated the ball, which is a reason he was so highly regarded coming into the league.
However, Turner has been a disappointment in his three NBA seasons. Turner clashed with former coach Doug Collins at times, and the 24-year-old was often miscast as a traditional shooting guard as opposed to a player that needs the ball in his hands to be at his best.
Turner did post a career-high of 13.3 points per game last season, but he shot just 41.9 percent from the field and sported a below-average PER of 12.16. Turner made just 43.5 percent of his shots in the paint last season, according to NBA.com. That number that absolutely must be better if he's going to take the next step.
Defensively, the Sixers have been markedly better the last two seasons with Turner off the court. In 2011-12 when Philadelphia had one of the better defenses in the league, they gave up 5.5 more points per 100 possessions with Turner on the floor per NBA.com. Last season, it wasn't quite as big a difference, but the Sixers were still nearly two points better per 100 possessions defensively with Turner on the pine.
There are some reasons for optimism when it comes to Turner. He did improve his 3-point shooting from 22.4 percent in 2011-12 to a respectable 36.5 percent last year despite taking more than one attempt more per game. And according to Synergy Sports Technology, Turner was the second-ranked player defending against isolation. The tools are there for Turner to be successful on both sides of the ball. It's just a matter of unlocking them.
If Turner does make a leap next season, the Sixers will have a tough decision to make about his future. Would they want to commit to him in the offseason as a core member of the team, or would they look to move him while his trade value is high? A contender looking for an extra push may be willing to give up an asset in order to grab Turner if he can finally prove he can consistently play at a high level.
But Turner's not worried about any trade rumors right now, instead focusing on possibly taking that leap:
"All I can worry about is being better," Turner said. "I just don't want to let these type of situations deter the fun I have with the game. Everything that's been going on this summer has been about chess moves and money and all that. At the end of the day, it's about playing basketball."
Turner is hoping to buck a recent trend of underwhelming No. 2 picks. Since Kevin Durant in 2007, the No. 2 picks have been Michael Beasley, Hasheem Thabeet, Turner, Derrick Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. It's still too early to come to any conclusions on Williams and Kidd-Gilchrist, but it's safe to say Beasley and Thabeet have been major disappointments. Turner isn't a knucklehead like Beasley or a pure bust like Thabeet, but he would certainly prefer to not be mentioned in the same breath as those two.