Posted Aug 9 2010 6:26PM
Albert Einstein once said he never thought about the future, because it comes soon enough.
It doesn't take a genius to see the Sixers can hardly wait on tomorrow to make their promising young backcourt the focus of the present.
"I like the possibilities and the potential," said rookie Evan Turner, the No. 2 pick in the draft.
"This could be a lot of fun," said Jrue Holiday, the No. 17 pick from last year.
Barring a shocking turn of events in training camp, Holiday, 20, and Turner, 21, will form the youngest starting backcourt in the league on opening night in Philadelphia this season.
While that kind of commitment conjures up all the images of peril and pratfalls from inexperience, to new coach Doug Collins what it means is potential.
"You know what? I have never hesitated in my coaching career to play younger guys," said Collins. "The truth is that you can't protect anybody in this league by holding them back and not exposing them to things. You can either play or you can't and in the cases of Evan and Jrue, we don't have any doubts."
The pair got their baptism together at the Orlando Summer League last month, where the numbers and the results were not always impressive, but there were definitely enough crackling moments to provide excitement for the future.
Holiday clearly looked like a player with a year of NBA experience under his belt, making shots, handing off passes, creating plays almost any time he wanted against rookies and free agents.
Turner frequently appeared lackluster and out of sync. But that was mostly because he was coming off a period of more than three months where he hadn't played 5-on-5 games leading up to the draft. Yet there were more than a few occasions when the 2010 College Player of the Year found the cracks in the defense and was able to slip easily to the basket to score.
"I had to shake off the rust,'' Turner said. "Practice is practice, but this is different. I'm expecting a lot from myself. Once I calmed down, it went better. Having Jrue there really helped.''
"Every moment those two spent time together is great for us,'' said Collins. "They're both great kids and unselfish.''
The Sixers have plenty of holes to patch and questions to answer after a dismal 27-55 campaign that resulted in Eddie Jordan's ouster as coach after just one season. They still have to determine whether small forward Andre Iguodala can take the step forward to be the kind of fulltime star capable of carrying a team through the playoffs. They have to find out if Marreese Speights can blossom in the middle now that Samuel Dalembert is gone. They have to get something consistent and positive out of Elton Brand in his third season after signing that whopping free agent contract.
But while all of those could be short-term questions, the firm belief of the Sixers is that the Holiday-Turner combo is the long-term answer, no matter how young they may be.
"The things about Jrue is he's wise beyond his years," Collins said. "He's got a great feel for the game. He comes from a family where his mother and father were both athletes and his brother is a terrific player at the University of Washington. He knows his way around the game. He doesn't lack for confidence and I think he's pretty excited to be pairing up with somebody like Evan.
"The important thing to us is our defense has got to be the key. Jrue can definitely guard the ball. Evan is making the adjustment at both ends. He had the ball in his hands so much in college and now he's going to be without it a lot. We're working with him trying to get him off the ball to play. He's going to have to learn to find his spots to drive and shoot on offense and he's going to have to get out there and chase those 2s all over the floor."
Turner took his struggles in Orlando exactly the way Collins had hoped.
"It was a good week, something that I needed to go through," he said. "Everything starts a little slow. It happened to me in college. I just have to go back and work on certain things....Getting my butt kicked might have been a good thing."
Holiday's head is filled with the possibilities.
"I'm excited to play with Evan and even in our earliest times on the court together, there were a lot of good things happening," he said. "We'll keep working. We can both handle the ball. We can both do some very good things. You'll see that in the future."
Which has already arrived in the Philly backcourt.
Fran Blinebury has covered the NBA since 1977. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.
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