When the Sixers drafted Evan Turner with the No. 2 pick last June, they took a player who, in college, could get wherever he wanted with the ball in his hands. Problem was, the Sixers wanted him to play shooting guard. Problem is, Turner just isn't a good enough shooter to be a starting "two" in the NBA.
Not yet. Enter Herb Magee.
Magee, of course, is the legendary coach at Philadelphia University who has amassed 922 wins in his 44-year career there. As a player, he was for years the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,235 points.
If there is one area of expertise in Magee's vast basketball knowledge, it is shooting. He has wowed at camps for years and years, made videos and taught many NBA players the art.
Now it's Turner's turn. The two will get together at some point during the offseason and see whether they can fix what Turner calls "a hitch" in his jumper.
"I haven't really seen him all that much, I don't watch as much as a lot of people," said Magee, whose team finished the regular season 15-11. "He doesn't get a lot of shots. Sunday night, I think he had eight. Other nights, it's three or four. And I'm not sure where he's shooting them from.
"What we'll do is get in the gym and I'll watch him for quite a while. I'm sure he's a good shooter, probably not great, but good."
Turner didn't have to rely so much on his outside shooting while at Ohio State, as the ball was in his hands most of the time and Turner would create. Here, the hope is for him to still be able to create, but also become a formidable shooter standing still.
Coach Doug Collins has known Magee since his playing days, starting in the early 1970s. Seeking Magee's help was a no-brainer.
"I've known coach Magee for so long and know what kind of a great teacher he is, especially when it comes to shooting," Collins said. "The thing is, if the two of them can get into the gym together and coach Magee can see how Evan shoots and what corrections can be made, it's a win-win situation.
"It's so good to have someone who is in the area that can be such great help. With coach Magee being in the area, there's a chance that he'll be able to see Evan after they've had their time together and get word to him one way or the other if need be. When you have a resource like coach Magee in the area, I think you'd be pretty stupid not to use him."
Magee, who's most recent project was former Saint Joseph's star and current Orlando Magic guard Jameer Nelson, already has the plan in place for Turner.
"I'll watch him when we first meet and we'll get in a good practice session," Magee said. "What we won't do is just come in and start firing shots. We'll work on fundamentals - where the shooting hand is, the guide hand, the legs - then build to the final shot. There's no sense in shooting three-pointers if you don't have the right form from 10 feet. I will show him what I consider to be the perfect shot, the way of releasing the ball.
"The good thing about all of this is that it sounds like it's something he really wants to do. That's the most important thing. We will be successful."
Magee doesn't lack confidence, nor should he. Ask him how many foul shots he'd hit right now if you gave him 10 and he doesn't hesitate in saying he'd make them all. He's not joking.
As for Turner, he didn't really know much about Magee, but is excited to learn.
"I've heard that he is the shooting professor, a guru," Turner said. "I know that I have a little hitch in my shot, but it's something that can be corrected, and I'm going to learn from one of the best. Anything I can do to help my game, I'm for it."
A day after dislocating his right (shooting) pinkie, forward Elton Brand was back on the practice floor yesterday at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine sporting a splint and a pad on the finger.
"There's a little pain, but it feels pretty good," said Brand, who was hurt diving for a loose ball in the third quarter Sunday. He begged to stay in the game, but the trainers took him to the locker room and popped the digit back into place. Brand returned to the game and hit a key jumper late. Yesterday, he was practicing his patented midrange jumper. "It wasn't my usual 10-for-10, it was more like 8-for-10," he said. "It's all right. and I'll definitely be able to play [tonight]."
Speaking of tonight, the Sixers, who have won a season-high four straight and 13 of 17, will face the hottest team in the NBA when the Dallas Mavericks, winners of 16 of 17, visit the Wells Fargo Center.
"It's exciting. This will be a good test for us," Brand said. "We played well against San Antonio at home [a 77-71 win]. It's going to be a great barometer for us."
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