If/when this infernal lockout finally, mercifully comes to an end and the Sixers are expected to put a basketball team on the floor, Doug Collins is going to have some juggling to do. Barring a minor miracle, he's going to have much the same roster this season as he had in 2010-2011. While last season was about feeling out his players and gauging their roles, this year he's going to need to tweak things to make them work better. Unfortunately, he might just find he's got a lopsided squad.
When you look at the bigs, you've got Hawes (probably, unfortunately), Brand, the Voose, Thad (maybe) and Speights. That's pretty much it. Collins was able to cobble together a rotation out of pretty much the same level of talent last year. He may even have another warmish body thrown in there if they can grab a has-been big off the scrap heap.
The overall dearth of talent up front makes Collins' job pretty easy. Brand and Thad are the only legitimate players, they're the only guys who have to get heavy minutes on a nightly basis, so he can mix and match between the others for the 30 or so Thad and Brand won't play of the 96 total available at the four and five.
When we look on the perimeter, though, things get complicated. If you're assuming Evan Turner's role will be increased this season, and if it isn't, something went seriously wrong, then you're talking about Iguodala, Turner, Meeks, Williams and Jrue all needing minutes. Iguodala and Jrue are both going to be playing 35+, that's not even up for debate. That leaves 74 minutes total for Turner, Meeks and Lou. Probably 48 minutes at the two and maybe a dozen at the point and the three.
If you split those minutes three ways, you've got 24.666666667 each. If one of those guys goes over, it comes out of what's left for the other two. Looking at salary, production and upside, you'd pretty much have to say you want to see Turner leading this group. At least you'd have to admit it would be in the team's best interest if his play demanded about 30/game. One thing points toward a heavier workload for Turner, he's the only viable option to back up Iguodala at the three, so that's 12 minutes right there. Plus there are times when the team goes small, so you can play AI9 at the four and Turner at the three.
I highly doubt Lou's minutes will drop from the the 23.3/game he played last year, so what gives? Where do the extra minutes for Turner come from? I guess the only logical answer is Jodie. The problem with that is Doug Collins really values Jodie's shooting to the point where unless Turner comes back with not only a fixed shot, but a dangerous three-point shot, it's hard to predict a cut in Jodie's minutes.
I suppose when the rubber meets the road, Turner's versatility would probably allow him to get the minutes piecemeal at the three positions. He's the only one of the three who can handle the requisite duties at PG, SG and SF (though how well he handles those duties is up for debate).
There's a larger issue at work here, though. The Sixers used the #2 pick on Turner. They pretty much used him as a jack-of-all trades in his rookie season, but bigger things were expected of him, and they probably still are. If we go through another season with him getting spot minutes all over the floor, will that be the path that he's on for the entirety of his career? Or maybe to use a little bit more of a level head, will it be that much harder to set a position and a role for him down the road if he's jerked around for another season?
The frustrating thing, at this point, is that I don't think Collins or the coaching staff did anything wrong with Turner last year. They gave him plenty of opportunities to stake his claim in a number of different roles, and he simply didn't produce. Or he didn't produce better than the guys he was competing with. If he's given the same chance this season and he again falls short, you can't blame Collins. He's only going into the second year of his contract, he's only 23. There's plenty of time for Turner to become whatever he's going to become, and it might even be easier on Doug Collins in terms of managing the rotation if he doesn't make a leap this season, but it won't be better for the team.
In a perfect world, Turner's play will cause problems for Collins. In a perfect world, someone will lose minutes to Turner and someone may need to be moved. If that dream is going to come true, though, Turner will have to grab the bull by the horns. Otherwise, we're probably going to see a replay of the 2010-2011 season in more ways than one.