Exit Interviews: Ronny Turiaf

USA TODAY Sports

As we try to do every season here at Clips Nation, we're running a series of "exit interviews" of this year's Los Angeles Clippers. An overview and analysis, player by player, of all 15 Clippers who finished the 2012-2013 season on the roster. In this edition: the other backup big and inventor of the Finger Twirl, Ronny Turiaf.

Name: Ronny Turiaf

Pronunciation: RO-nee TOOR-ee-off

2012-2013 Key Stats: 1.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 10.8 mpg

Age: 30

Years in the NBA: 8

Years with the Clippers: 1

2012-2013 Salary: Minimum

Contract Status: Unrestricted free agent; the Clippers do not hold his Bird Rights

In a Nutshell

You may recall that I was pretty stoked when the Clippers filled the Reggie Evans void with the equally ridiculous Ronny Turiaf. I also harped pretty hard on Ryan Hollins, predicting that His Royal Terribleness would almost never play, and that Ronny, while also quite limited, would be the one to see minutes. Well Erik, great work. Right, as always.

So naturally, Coach Del Negro did the exact opposite of what I predicted, regularly going 10 deep in the lineup and switching between using Turiaf or Hollins as that 10th man. Completely to my surprise, the better of the two appeared to be Hollins. Of course, that had more to do with Hollins having one of the best years of his career, and less to do with Turiaf doing anything wrong. Ronny was who we thought he was. A relatively strong rebounder, a capable defender, and a good finisher—in general, Ronny was a guy who wouldn’t win you any games by himself, but he would at least be able to spell the starters without screwing anything up.

Strengths

Ronny Turiaf’s biggest strength might be the Finger Twirl. I don’t mean that as a slight, but rather, Ronny provided that same crowd-inspiring energy that Reggie did last year. The fans immediately picked up on this, and whenever Ronny was in the game, they joined him (and the Clipper bench) in celebrating his every bucket, every hustle play, and every bearded-jaw-dropping blocked shot with an enthusiastic Finger Twirl.

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’m pretty sure I’ve developed a chronic injury in my wrist thanks to the Finger Twirl, and I’m not even joking. It’s really screwing up my jump shot.)

Turiaf’s second biggest strength has been his defense—particularly in single-coverage situations. Ronny does a fantastic job of keeping his feet on the floor, his arms straight up, and his chest out, generally keeping his man from scoring without fouling too much. His 4.1 fouls per 36 minutes ranked him ahead of Lamar Odom (4.8) and Ryan Hollins (7.2—lol). His 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes had him tied with Ryan Hollins for second best on the team, barely trailing DeAndre Jordan’s 2.0 per 36. Most impressively, however, he held his opponents to an incredibly impressive 0.7 points per possession, making only 33% of their field goals. Mainly, his defense shone in defending post-up situations, where he used the aforementioned tools to frustrate opponents.

None of this was a huge surprise, though. We knew he was a strong defender, and we knew he was a great locker room presence and fan favorite. We knew his rebounding would be decent enough, rebounding at a rate of 7.8 per 36. He didn’t surprise us with unforeseen strengths like Ryan Hollins did. "Consistent" may be the best word to describe our good friend Ronny. Consistently aggressive. Consistently energetic. Consistently dancing. Ronny did everything—well, almost everything—we asked him to do.

Weaknesses

I honestly cannot understand what has happened to Ronny Turiaf’s jump shot. Everything, from his mid-(a.k.a. short)-range jumper to his free throw, it’s just all wrong. I remember, as a Laker, he had a decent enough jumper, and his career free throw percentage has almost always been at least decent, with a career free throw percentage of 65%. And yet this season, somehow, he put up an absolutely impressive free throw percentage of 36.5%. Last year, the PF/C rotation of Martin, Jordan, Evans, and Griffin was one of, if not the worst free throw shooting group in the league*, with a combined free throw percentage of 50%. This year, they were supposed to be so much better. Turiaf, Odom, and Hollins were all 65%+ free throw shooters coming into the season, and Blake and DJ were supposed to have retooled their shots. Well, thanks to Blake’s massive improvement at the stripe, and Odom/Turiaf deciding to avoid the line almost entirely, the new group improved to 56.6%, which is just… delightful.

*Note: DeAndre Jordan actually led last year’s group with a free throw percentage of 52.5%. Seriously. They were that bad.

Well, aside from terrible free throw shooting, and being completely useless further than 3 feet from the hoop, providing pretty much no offense whatsoever, there wasn’t much else to complain about with Ronny Turiaf.

Future with the Clippers

Ronny Turiaf, like Ryan Hollins, will be a free agent this summer, and he will have an extremely difficult choice ahead of him. At the tender age of 30 and on the downhill side of his basketball prime, Ronny will have to choose between playing for the veteran’s minimum for the Clippers, or playing for the veteran’s minimum for another team that has much uglier fans. He’ll probably have no trouble getting an offer from some NBA team—there’s always room for a big that plays defense and rebounds like Ronny—but it’s really up to the Clippers’ Front Office Chris Paul as to whether he’s brought back or not. And depending on who the coach is next year, the 10th and 11th players off the Clippers’ bench may not see as many minutes as they did in the 2012-13 season, so it may not matter either way.

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