Don't read too much into my preference for Favors with this pick. If it's a decision between Favors and Evan Turner, I don't believe there is a wrong choice, merely a preference. After the jump I'll talk about why drafting Turner may not be my first choice, but it's one I'll be very, very happy with.
I'll start off by answering the four questions I posed earlier in the Favors post, this time for Turner.
Ceiling - An elite wing scorer who with a versatile game who can beat single coverage and punish teams for doubling with solid passing skills. Perennial All Star, possible second team All NBA. If not a true superstar, something very, very close. Certainly a number one option on offense for a contending team.
Impact - With a true superstar, the sky's the limit. Turner at his very best probably isn't a guy who can carry a team by himself, but with a wingman and a decent supporting cast, you can build a contender around him.
Likelihood - This is where the athleticism thing comes in, for me. True superstar wings around the league use their extreme athleticism, size or strength to get easy looks and put pressure on the defense. I don't think Turner is going to be able to blow by the better defenders and he's not going to have a size nor strength advantage if he really develops, because teams will put their best wing defender on him (probably threes, considering the lack of explosive speed). If Turner is going to max out his offensive potential, he's going to need to further develop his dribbling skills to the point where he can use his dribble to consistently create those opportunities against better defenders. He's also going to have to use his guile, with and without the ball. By that, I mean he's going to have to relentlessly run his man off screens, he needs to use the pick-and-roll to create space for himself. His basketball skills need to be absolutely elite to make up for the lack of athleticism, relatively speaking. This is a guy who has honed his game every year, so I do believe he has a chance to make these strides, but even if he does, I still don't think he will ever truly reach the level of LeBron, Wade or Kobe. The level just below is nothing to sneeze at, though. I'd put the odds of him reaching that level maybe somewhere north of 50/50.
Downside - Turner's floor is much, much higher than Favors on the offensive end of the floor. I don't see any way this guy doesn't put up at least a couple of 20PPG seasons and I think he's too smart to get to the NBA and suddenly turn into a gunner. He's got a supplemental offensive game, much like Iguodala. If he never develops legit three-point range he's going to be easier to shut down and the Sixers are going to need to find more shooting from the one and three positions, but that's nothing new. Worst case, I think he's a lot like Iguodala, but with a better scoring game in the half court and worse defense. He's absolutely the safe pick.
Prior to the Dalembert trade, I would've said that adding Turner would provide the biggest on-court boost for the Sixers in terms of wins and losses. I'm not so sure about that anymore, simply because I think interior defense and rebounding is such a tremendous weakness for the roster at this point and I'm a firm believer that if you can't control the paint you can't win. The funny thing is that the Dalembert trade actually makes the issue of winning this season irrelevant anyway, so I'm left looking longer term.
If the Sixers draft Turner and make no other moves, they're essentially set at three positions for the next 3-4 years, and hopefully at the guard positions for a decade. In the short term, Turner, Iguodala and Jrue would represent one of the most versatile perimeter trios in the league. All have good size for the position, Iguodala and Jrue can effectively guard all three positions, and while I doubt Turner's ability to ever become a lockdown defender, I do think he'll be solid, especially considering he can routinely handle the opposing team's third-best perimeter offensive weapon. All three are plus rebounders for the position, all three get steals and start the break, all three can handle the ball very well and all three are willing passers. Big men should be lining up to join the Sixers considering the opportunities the perimeter guys can get them.
I expect Turner's learning curve to be much less steep than most rookies. He's got three years under his belt and he's spent his entire life figuring out the game, rather than simply tying his laces and jumping over people. Turner gives the Sixers a scoring weapon in the half court they haven't had since Iverson, but his approach to the game fits better with the players around him. His efficient 20 points are much more valuable than a guy who needs 18 shots to score them.
No matter who the Sixers take, we're talking about a rebuild. Both Favors and Turner are pieces to build around, in my mind. There is no wrong choice, and tonight won't be about winning or losing, it's going to be about varying degrees of drastic long-term improvement. Unless, of course, the powers that be do something unbelievably stupid.
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