Evan Turner, the 76ers soon-to-be sophomore guard/forward, has spent this summer splitting time between Philadelphia, Chicago, and Columbus. He also met his teammates in Los Angeles the weekend before last and traveled to China for his shoe company, Li-Ning. In the middle of all of that, Turner has been working on his jumper with local shot doctor and Hall of Famer, Herb Magee. If you missed our blog post earlier this summer about the X's and O's of this "shot tweaking," you can find that here: Evan's guide hand.
ET was kind enough to give me a call from Chicago, where he's working out this week (and maybe next) with Sixers' swingman Andre Iguodala. What's new with Turner? He wants the ball. He's confident. He's ready for this season. He says he's more explosive. Basically, it sounds like the worst thing that could happen to Turner this year is a lingering lockout. During his rookie season, Turner played in 78 games and averaged 7.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 23.0 minutes a game. Those numbers were, well, disappointing for many Sixers' fans because Turner was the No. 2 overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft. But the franchise believes that Turner is going to make a significant leap from that rookie season performance.
How has your summer been?
"It's been going well. I've been working on my game a lot, playing a lot of basketball. I'm pretty happy with the results I've been getting; I feel like I'm back to my old self. I feel like my new shot is smoother. I have a lot of confidence in it. It's going well. I've been enjoying it. And trying to get better."
Do you think the improvement to your shot has been the biggest improvement you've made?
"Well, I knew I had a hitch in my shot. I just wanted to get it together. I didn't want to shoot any balls short anymore. I wanted to understand the basic principles of jump shooting, all of that, what to look for. Coach Magee has been helping me out a lot."
Can you answer this summer-long question: Should you be a shooting guard or a small forward?
"I just want the ball. You know, it doesn't really make any difference for me. It depends on the personnel shift and everything like that. But I need the ball, I want the ball, to make plays and make shots. You know, I'm gaining confidence to get back out and play. And I'm just really: I want the ball, I want to make plays and do a bigger part."
Did you feel like it was necessary for you to build back your confidence?
"Definitely. I just needed the off-season to get my game back ready. I've been playing ball against good competition. At the team workout, I was one of the best players there. I feel like I'm leaving the ground a lot better, more athletic. I needed to get my mojo back, and I feel like I got it."
Did you make a concerted effort to become more explosive?
"I've been trying to trim down a little bit, but I've just been doing a lot more squats, things like that. I've been working out and playing ball, too."
How was LA, was that the first time you'd seen a lot of the guys?
"Yeah, for the most part that was the first time. It was fun being back with them, hanging out with them and playing basketball …. I'm pretty excited for the season."
How have you handled this summer, with the different timeline for preparation?
"A lot of people say, the older guys, say make sure you don't burn yourself out because we might have a shorter season and things might get rushed. I've just been playing and getting into my routines. Last summer, I think I burned myself out prior to the season. I think this summer I've been working harder and smarter."