76ers eye Turner with 2nd pick in NBA draft
Evan Turner posted messages on his Twitter feed about getting ``props'' from Philadelphia fans and eating at a famous cheesesteak shop while in town for his draft workout.
His message Thursday night could also have a Philly theme.
The Philadelphia 76ers are expected to take the Ohio State shooting guard with the second overall pick in the draft. Team president Ed Stefanski says he knows who the team will pick, and Turner says he expects to be that player.
The Sixers aren't hiding their love for Turner. Search his name on the team's website, and the headline ``Sixers Draft Evan Turner'' is one of the clickable options.
In an post-workout interview on the team's website, Turner gushes about Philly and says, ``I can't wait to get here.'' There's video of Turner touring the Sixers locker room where he's asked what uniform number he might wear.
So, yeah, the Sixers like him.
``He's played in the best competitive situations, he understands pressure, and he's been the best player on his team,'' new Sixers coach Doug Collins said. ``That's one thing I always look for in guys coming into the NBA. Did you have the responsibility night in and night out being the best player on your team?''
Turner, 6-foot-7, 210 pounds, did at Ohio State, where he led the Buckeyes into the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament He averaged 20.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists and was The Associated Press Player of the Year. Turner received all but one first-team vote on the All-America team.
The Sixers believe the 21-year-old Turner and 20-year-old point guard Jrue Holiday could form the backcourt that will soon turn them into Eastern Conference playoff contenders for years to come.
The Sixers have already made sweeping changes coming off a dismal season in which one of the few highlights was a good bounce by the lottery ball that vaulted them to the No. 2 pick.
Eddie Jordan was fired after one year on the job and underachieving center Sam Dalembert was traded to Sacramento. Collins took over for Jordan, and newly-acquired Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni could quickly jump-start the rebuilding.
``Last year, this was the perfect storm that everything that could go wrong went wrong with this group, and I just think that guys are going to bounce back,'' Collins said. ``I've talked to a lot of the guys on the phone, I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from where guys are, and what they want to come back and accomplish next year.''
Turner left Ohio State after his junior season and is considered one of the most NBA-ready prospects in the draft. John Wall is the consensus No. 1 pick to land in Washington. The Sixers are high on Georgia Tech forward Derrick Favors.
But the Sixers need serious help in the backcourt and this pick should be the biggest no-brainer since they selected Allen Iverson No. 1 overall in 1996. Iverson went on to win rookie of the year honors and was a four-time scoring champ.
Turner won't face the amount of pressure Iverson did to turn the Sixers into winners, but it's clear what the organization expects. Turner has a solid mid-range game, and can drive to the basket. He's a playmaker and a hustler, and can play point guard or small forward if Holiday or Andre Iguodala run into foul trouble.
``I feel confident that I can come in and help improve this team,'' Turner said. ``I'm progressing and I feel confident that brighter days are coming.''
Turner might have to win over some fans who might have choked on their Cheez Whiz after he tweeted that he visited Geno's Steaks for a cheesesteak - with no cheese. He'll have time to correct that culinary faux paux when he makes his post-draft visits to Philadelphia.
The Sixers last had the No. 2 pick in 1997 and they picked Keith Van Horn, then immediately traded his rights to New Jersey as part of a deal that brought Tim Thomas to Philadelphia.
The Sixers have only one pick in this year's draft.
They could look at Villanova's Scottie Reynolds as a free agent if he's not drafted Thursday. Reynolds joined Turner on the All-America team, but his NBA stock isn't nearly as high. Reynolds, who led Villanova to the Final Four in 2009, has worked out for several NBA teams with no promise of being drafted.
Reynolds, a 6-foot-2 guard, said this week he won't even watch the draft.
``I don't have an ego that says if I don't get drafted, I'm going to be crushed,'' he said.
Villanova coach Jay Wright said Reynolds' size for a shooting guard could keep him out of the league.
``I think he's going to be in that after-40 group,'' he said. ``Does someone want to take him or wait to get him as a free agent? I think he's going to be in that area.''
Turner doesn't have anything to worry about on draft night - except his outfit.
``I have my suit picked out. It's classy,'' he said. ``You're not going to see me in a bow tie or anything crazy like that.''