This summer, 3QC will take a look back on each Magic player's 2007-2008 season. The first nine posts will evaluate, on an individual basis and in alphabetical order, the players who played in at least 20% of the team's total minutes; the final post will briefly evaluate the five players who appeared in less than 20% of the team's minutes.
Today, our focus is Hedo Turkoglu.
Hedo Turkoglu takes a leaning jumper against the Raptors.
File photo by Fernando Medina, NBAE/Getty Images
|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.
If you foresaw Hedo Turkoglu's breakout season, I'd like you to help me fill out my lottery ticket. You might be able to help me hit the jackpot, as Hedo did with his stellar play during the 2007/2008 NBA season.
I'll be honest: I was not necessarily Hedo's biggest fan before the start of last season. I suspect many Magic devotees felt the same way as I did: he was too streaky a shooter to amount to much on a playoff-contending team. But with the help of some of Orlando's newest faces (Rashard Lewis and Stan Van Gundy), Turkoglu played the best ball of his career, blossoming into a borderline All-Star and a bona-fide, crunch-time threat. And if you don't believe me, you can ask the Bulls. Or the Celtics. Or the Raptors. Dude got it done when it counted...
... most of the time. As the season progressed, it became clearer and clearer to league observers that, with the game on the line, Van Gundy and the Magic would put the ball in Turkoglu's hands. And with the exception of the dipsy-do layup he hit against the Raptors in the playoffs (video above), he didn't deliver with the precision to which we had become accustomed. Part of it is his fault -- nobody forced him to rush a 25-footer with two seconds to play and the game on the line against Minnesota -- but part of it falls on Van Gundy. Upside and Motor, who has "a lot of respect" for Stan Van Gundy, thinks he should have gone to Rashard Lewis more often. I'm sure Stan feels the same way as Upside does, which is why I think the Magic will be doubly dangerous come crunch-time next season: they'll have ha an entire summer to work on plays for Lewis, as well as the Turkoglu OptionTM.
That statement assumes the Magic retain Turkoglu this summer, which isn't a given. Turk can opt out of his current deal next summer, which is a given on account of he's criminally underpaid; the Magic owe him a mere $6.8 million next season, a bargain for a player who produces as much as Hedo does. With his trade value as high as ever, the Magic may field offers for Hedo to make sure he doesn't leave them for nothing next summer. Although we at 3QC would love for him to stick around, we also have a trade proposal we'll unveil later this week that may tempt even the most devoted of Hedo Lovers in The City Beautiful.
There's no shortage of those people, either. And why would there be? Turkoglu played in every Magic game this season. He earned the NBA's Most Improved Player award. And -- here's what I like most about Turkoglu -- when his shot didn't fall, he still found ways to contribute. In a loss to Dallas last February, he shot just 4-of-14, but finished with 13 points, 12 boards, and 13 assists for his first career triple-double in 569 games.
Some Magic fans might think less of Hedo after his pedestrian playoff performance, which included shooting a dismal .286 clip from three-point range. But after all he accomplished in the regular season, Turk deserves a break, not to mention a raise.