(VIA NBC PHILADELPHIA) Evan Turner only worked out for one team and already talked like he was a member of the Philadelphia 76ers.
It’s official now.
The 76ers selected the Ohio State star with the No. 2 pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft. Despite missing five weeks with a broken bone in his back, Turner averaged 20.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists while leading the Buckeyes to the final sixteen of the NCAA tournament.
A versatile player, Turner is expected to be Philadelphia’s shooting guard. He joins a rebuilding squad that’s coming off a 27-55 season.
When the lottery balls bounced favorably for the 76ers allowing the team to jump from sixth to No. 2, Turner immediately became the organization’s top choice.
New coach Doug Collins raved about Turner, the AP Player of the Year, after his visit to Philadelphia last week. And general manager Ed Stefanski made no secret he loved Turner’s game.
The Sixers are hoping the 21-year-old Turner teams with 20-year-old point guard Jrue Holiday to form a backcourt that will soon turn them into perennial Eastern Conference playoff contenders.
Stefanski already has made two big moves this offseason. He fired Eddie Jordan after one year as coach and traded underachieving center Samuel Dalembert to Sacramento for Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni.
With the new acquisitions, along with Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Marreese Speights and Elton Brand, the Sixers certainly could make a playoff push next season.
It’s been seven years since Philadelphia won a playoff series.
Turner has the potential to reinvigorate a city that used to be crazy about basketball. Not since Allen Iverson left town the first time have fans been excited about the Sixers. About 1,500 people showed up at the Wachovia Center for a draft party that featured Julius “Dr. J” Erving and Moses Malone.
Turner probably is the organization’s most critical pick since Iverson was chosen No. 1 overall in 1996. Iverson went on to win rookie of the year honors, was a four-time scoring champ and league MVP when he led the Sixers to the Finals in 2001.
Turner’s game fits in nicely on this team. He’s a solid mid-range shooter and can drive to the basket. He’s a playmaker and a hustler, and can play point guard or small forward if Holiday or Iguodala run into foul trouble.
Turner swept the 2010 college basketball season player of the year awards after claiming the Naismith Trophy and John R. Wooden Award, as well as the Sporting News, USBWA and NABC POY awards. He also was the Big Ten Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player at the annual Big Ten tournament, which the Buckeyes captured with a win over Minnesota.
The Sixers last had the No. 2 pick in 1997. They chose Keith Van Horn and immediately traded his rights to New Jersey as part of a deal that brought Tim Thomas to Philadelphia.
Barring a trade, the Sixers don’t have another pick in this draft.