Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Evan Turner taking (and making!) threes, Spencer Hawes whiffing on screens, five small players on the court at once, and one surprise at the end.
The Good: Evan Turner Corner Threes
It’s no secret that Evan Turner has been an inefficient player thus far throughout his professional career. What has found elusive is a remedy to the problem of Turner’s scoring difficulties and more importantly, their effect on the Sixers’ offense as a whole.
One fairly popular suggestion has been a role change, a call for Turner to become the team’s primary playmaker and for him to possess autocratic control over the team’s offense similar to his collegiate days at Ohio State. While there may be some merit to the notion of Turner feeling more comfortable with the basketball in his hands, he frankly hasn’t shown nearly enough consistent production to be given that type of responsibility.
The real answer to the inefficiency problem is that Turner simply has to get better (yes, the Andy Reid answer) at playing off the ball. One way to accomplish this is to start taking and making more corner threes, which Turner recently has shown signs of doing. Now in year two of Extreme Makeover: Jumpshot Edition, Turner has been putting his retooled form to good use in making 8 of 19 threes and shooting 80 percent from the line on the young season.
Side note: "Standing in the corner" was often offered as an excuse to why ET struggled offensively last year. For a phrase with so much negative connotation, standing there can be a pretty effective thing to do if you have the ability to make a shot from there.
Of course, the Turner conundrum goes much farther than X’s and O’s, also deeply delving into the areas of Evan’s ability and self-belief. Last year, while Turner continued to brick shots and looked downright uncomfortable with his new form, some questioned why he went to Herb Magee and completely reworked his shot. The change didn’t produce immediate dividends last year, but that wasn’t the point.
Thankfully, Turner knew this too, understanding that the status quo wasn’t good enough. Namely, his rookie year form, the one where he placed his guide hand on top of the ball, had a limited ceiling. Turner realized that if he were to become the player he still wants to be, he couldn’t accomplish it shooting the ball so ass-backwards.
Evan Turner took a complete leap of faith in reworking his shooting form, one that’s tested him mentally far more than physically. He’s not out of the woods yet, and still isn’t all too efficient, but there is potential for Evan Turner to become a better shooter with the muscle memory that comes from repetition and practice of his new form. And that’s something that wasn’t there two years ago.
The Very Good: Super Smallball
Doug Collins won the game against Toronto when he came to the all too familiar conclusion, "Hey, our bigs can’t do anything on either end of the floor well right now." So he decided to put a lineup on the floor that at least made the Raptors uncomfortable on defense, a super-small group consisting of Jrue-Swaggy-Richardson-Dorell-Thad. The result? 26 points in the final 8:12 and a win.
The simple playbook was one Herman Boone would have been proud of. Collins just put Jrue and Thad in high pick and rolls, and then spaced the floor properly with three-point shooters. While Thad isn’t a great screener, he does offer two things that the other Sixer bigs don’t, a basic willingness to dive hard to the rim, and the ability to make a play for others if Jrue is doubled.
Truth be told, the offense was also bolstered by two tough contested shots that Swaggy P hit, because, well, he’s Swaggy P. But even the missed shots were excellent looks that came from the problems this speedy and shooting lineup posed Toronto. Now no, every team doesn’t have Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon playing crunch-time defense, but this is something the Sixers should look into trying from time to time, especially if the bigs continue to play so poorly. Plus, if Turner can make corner threes, he’ll provide a ton of help with the defensive rebounding problems the Sixers will undoubtedly enounter.
The Bad: Spencer Hawes' Screening (or lack thereof)
By his own standards, Spencer Hawes is struggling to shoot the ball this year. But the aspect of his game that I want to point out has been lacking for years, and that is solid screening. Far too often, Hawes doesn’t even try to make contact on screens, faking for a second and running out to the corner before the ball-handler is even ready to come off the screen.
There are some major flaws with this approach. First, the shot that Hawes is so eager to take is the least efficient shot in basketball, one he’s making at 33 percent this year without any prayer of getting fouled on. So why would any defense be in a rush to guard that?
Team-wise, there’s a larger problem, and that’s Hawes basically bringing a double team over to Jrue Holiday in the pick and roll. While Hawes is running over to his spot, his man often stays and doubles Holiday. And yes, it’s a double instead of a hedge, because Hawes made no contact with Holiday’s defender. So Jrue’s only option is to swing the ball to Hawes, which we already established, is bad offense.
The Baffling: OKC’s Perkins Defense
But seriously, why was OKC picking up guards full-court with Perk of all people?