It is going to be the inevitable comparison for Evan Turner for the duration of his career, this comparison to the Washington Wizards' John Wall, and sitting in the Verizon Center watching the two share the court in the preseason opener on Friday just compounded that notion.
No doubt about it, round one - their rookie seasons - went to Wall. The top pick of the 2010 draft, Wall probably would have been the league's top rookie had it not been for the freakishly electric play of the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin. Wall averaged 16.4 points per game, 8.3 assists, 4.6 boards and almost two steals in 37.8 minutes in starting 64 games.
Turner, not nearly as mesmerizing an athlete as Wall, was far more pedestrian. Coming off the bench for the Sixers, the No. 2 pick averaged 7.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes. Turner shot (0.425) the ball better than Wall (0.409), but Wall supporters will no doubt point to his higher volume of shots, which is fair.
But if we are going to make an honest and realistic assessment of their rookie campaigns, we would be remiss to not look at the way the season unfolded for both.
A season removed from the idiotic locker room gunplay of Gilbert Arenas, Washington was awful. God awful. Has anyone forgotten that this team lost 25 consecutive road games at the start of the season, falling just four shot of the league record of 29 set by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1992-93 season? It was Valentine's Day by the time the Wizards earned a victory away from home, and by Christmas of last year they already had nothing to play for and everyone in the locker room knew it.
By that point - and probably long before that - Wizards coach Flip Saunders knew he was playing out the season, and that the only pot of gold waiting for him was the relief that would be provided by the end of the season, which ended with Washington at 23-52.
With nothing to play for, Wall was basically given the keys to the car and told to do whatever he wanted, and he did. And while one preseason loss to the Sixers - Saunders said his main guys "got their [butts] kicked in Friday's 103-78 loss - is by no means a measuring stick for what will happen during the season, Wall doesn't look as if he's playing alongside complementary teammates in Washington.
Turner's rookie season was quite the opposite. The Sixers got off to a miserable start, and then righted things to go 38-28 over the last 66 games of the regular season and reach the playoffs. Over the last 66 games of the regular season - the same number of games teams will play this season as a result of the lockout - Collins had to coach every single game of the regular season in order to shepherd the team into the first round of the playoffs against eventual Eastern Conference winner Miami.
This doesn't allow for a coach to just roll the ball out, hope that a rookie can resuscitate a moribund franchise and instill faith that things will get better.
A recurring theme from Collins during training camp was the necessity to tinker with the lineup; to make sure that the second unit can take the floor and, if need be, do what the first unit can't or isn't doing.
This is going to expand Turner's role this season. Every player who comes back to his old team will have stories of how he's worked hard during the offseason, and honestly many of them aren't telling the truth; they just know it looks a lot better on the Internet and in the newspaper.
But by all accounts, Turner did just this. He spent a significant part of the summer working on his jumper with Philadelphia University coach Herb Magee. The problem with his jumper - and Collins seems to think it's been fixed - was that Turner placed his non-shooting hand too close to the top of the ball, rather than on its side. According to Collins, the non-shooting hand has to be on the side of the ball all the time, and he's seen that from Turner so far.
Collins is going to play him more on the ball this season - think of him in the point-forward roll while he's coming off the bench - and along with Thad Young and Lou Williams he'll be on the court alongside players who could start for many of the dreg franchises in this league. All playoff teams usually have this luxury, especially if they are devoid of a superstar.
He can pass out of the post, which will give the Sixers another new wrinkle, and his rebounding going up is probably a given as well.
What you can't forget is that starting isn't always the end-all in this league. Does the name Bobby Jones ring a bell? How about Vinnie Johnson? John Havlicek? Kevin McHale?
OK, we're not going to get carried away here. Give Turner some time; don't buy into the misguided ranting on the airwaves. Just keep your eye on Turner and watch him grow. There will be plenty of time to give him thumbs up or thumbs down, it's just that right now isn't that time.