(Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
If Hedo Turkoglu's 2011/12 season with the Orlando Magic demonstrated anything, it's that the 12-year veteran really needs to transition into a new role. Turkoglu rose to prominence under coach Stan Van Gundy during the 2007/08 season, Van Gundy's first with the Magic, as Van Gundy entrusted Turkoglu with secondary ballhandling duties. The 6-foot-10 Turkoglu ran high pick-and-roll after high pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard, and to great effect, capturing Most Improved Player honors and legitimate All-Star consideration. Orlando used the same formula a year later, riding the Turkoglu and Howard pick-and-roll to the NBA Finals.
But Turkoglu simply isn't that player anymore, and continuing to expect him to play facilitator is asking for trouble.
|Points Per Game||Rebounds Per Game||Assists Per Game|
|Points Per 36||Rebounds Per 36||Assists Per 36|
|PER||Rebound Rate||Assist Rate|
All statistics in this table from Turkoglu's player page at basketball-reference. Career-high statistics highlighted in gold; career-worst statistics highlighted in silver.
The table above shows Turkoglu set career-bests in two passing metrics this season. What it doesn't indicate is that Turkoglu also turned the ball over at a higher rate than he ever has in his career. He's lost a step, or two, over the last several seasons, which affects his ability to make passes in traffic the way he used to. And even when at his athletic peak, he didn't always make the best decisions with regard to passing or shooting.
Turkoglu also lost his way as a shooter, and it's not terribly difficult to pinpoint when and why that happened. Through 13 games, Turkoglu looked like a borderline All-Star, averaging 14.5 points per game on 49.6 percent shooting from the field and 47.8 percent from beyond the three-point arc. But after an awkward fall against the Charlotte Bobcats on January 17th, one which caused him to land on his back, Turkoglu never really recovered. He returned six days later and proceeded to shoot 38.3 percent from the field and 30.9 percent on threes the rest of the way.
It's important for Turkoglu to at least remain a three-point threat so he can space the floor when playing off the ball. If not, then he's an offensive liability both with the ball and without it.
The Magic would be wise to reduce Turkoglu's playmaking responsibilities in the season ahead. J.J. Redick has proven himself more than capable to pick up the slack, and although he won't cause the same matchup problems Turkoglu used to, he's less likely to make a critical mistake.