Whittell: Hedo Turkoglu a "Star" in Eurobasket Qualifying

Hedo Turkoglu has done his country proud. In an ESPN.com report brought to our attention by NetsDaily, Ian Whittell named Turk the "Star Man" in Group C of Eurobasket 2009 qualifying:

His averages of 12.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 26.2 minutes a game do not reflect the steadying influence and experience that the 29-year-old Orlando Magic forward brought to a team that boasts some astonishing young talent.

If you're interested in seeing Hedo's complete stats, click here. Notice anything troubling?

In the five games he played in the qualifying tournament, Hedo connected on only 13% of his three-pointers, making 2 and missing 13. In a vacuum, maybe that information wouldn't trouble us. But his three-point shooting woes started last April, even before the start of the NBA Playoffs. He shot 10-of-30 in April before the Playoffs and 10-of-35 during them for a combined 30.7%.

While it's true that all players go through shooting slumps, it's also true that the Magic will struggle if Hedo, their go-to perimeter scorer, doesn't shake himself out of this funk soon.

But the Eurobasket stats aren't all bad. Hedo apparently drove the lane at will, and finished: he made 12-of-15 two-pointers in the tournament. And when he wasn't making those, he was getting hacked and sent to the foul line, from which he shot 26-of-34. While 76.5% is average at best, and well below his 82.9% mark from last season, it's encouraging that he averaged nearly 7 free throw attempts per game. Scoring from the line is efficient and a good predictor of team success, as the statistician Dean Oliver illustrated in his book Basketball on Paper. The Magic could use more free-throw attempts from Hedo this season, especially if he doesn't regain his three-point stroke.

As an aside: does anyone else feel like the Magic might need more of Hedo's "steadying influence and experience" this season than they did last season? Now that Keyon Dooling and Pat Garrity are gone, another veteran needs to show some leadership skills. Adonal Foyle and the mature-beyond-his-years Jameer Nelson can't do it themselves.

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