Evaluating Hedo Turkoglu

This week, 3QC will take a look back on each Magic player's 2008/2009 season. Each day focuses on one position: Monday for point guards, Tuesday for shooting guards, Wednesday for small forwards, Thursday for power forwards, and Friday for centers. I'll evaluate each individual player at that position at regular intervals throughout the day, while Eddy will make a general survey of the position later in the afternoon.

It's now Hedo Turkoglu's turn.

Hedo Turkoglu
No. 15 Small Forward
Points Per Game Rebounds Per Game Assists Per Game
16.8 5.3 4.9
Points Per 36 Rebounds Per 36 Assists Per 36
16.5 5.2 4.8
PER Rebound Rate Assist Rate
14.8 8.2 22.4
FG% 3FG% FT%
41.3% 35.6% 80.7%
eFG% TS%
47.8% 54.1%

All statistics in this table from Turkoglu's player page at basketball-reference. Career-high statistics highlighted in gold.

Anything I say about Hedo Turkoglu--who, along with Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, is the longest-tenured Orlando Magic player--at this point in the summer, where it looks like he'll move on to a team willing to spend more money on him, is sure to elicit an emotional response. Not that I blame Magic fans for that, of course. Over the last several seasons, he's made numerous clutch plays. He's also a fun personality, a guy for whom you feel good cheering. There are rarely mixed emotions regarding Hedo, although his detractors are among the most vitriolic I've ever seen.

So, how'd he do this year?

Well, not bad, all things considered. All his major statistics declined sharply, which is bad. And his PER was slightly below the league average. But statistics don't tell the whole story with Hedo, I don't think. His very presence on the floor creates mismatches in Orlando's favor. I mean, you try designing a defensive scheme that can account for a versatile, 6'10" small forward; another 6'10" forward who's more of an outside threat, but who can put it on the floor if need be; and arguably the best center in the league, who stands 6'11". Nightmarish, because even when Turk shoots something awful, like 3-for-13, he's still a playmaking threat whom defenses have to respect. Oh, and he spaces the floor. Good luck with that.

Make no mistake, though: Hedo Turkoglu isn't an All-Star. He deserved the nod in 07/08 over Joe Johnson, but not this year. The low shooting percentages, and the sometimes boneheaded decisions, are simply too much to ignore.

But all-in-all, Hedo was the player who drove the Magic's offense this year. At times, it was special. But is that really a resume-builder? Orlando's offense ranked 11th in the league, just behind Atlanta, and only slightly above the league average. The recently acquired Vince Carter should easily exceed Turkoglu's production, and potentially make the offense that much more potent. Then again, Carter doesn't have Turk's size, making him an easier cover. Maybe.

In Hedo, you have a 30-year-old player whose skill set is a better selling point than his actual production. Guys with that distinction generally don't sit well with me. But Hedo? I can't really hate on the guy who led the Magic in scoring during their ill-fated trip to the Finals this year. He's been an asset to the team for 5 years total, but the last 2 in particular. The Magic, and most of their fans, will miss him.

Grade: B+
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