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2012-2013 Clipper Player Previews: Ronny Turiaf

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For three weeks this preseason, we'll be publishing Player Previews for each of the 15 players currently under contract with the Clippers. In some cases there may not be much difference from last season's Exit Interviews, but the team does have seven new faces, and there were some significant developments over the off-season for some of the returning players as well, so let's get caught up with all of them before the season starts. Today's edition, Frenchman Ronny Turiaf.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Ronny Turiaf career stats (7 seasons)











One of the later Clipper additions this off-season was Ronny Turiaf, who will be part of the relatively interchangeable big-man rotation this year. As our Fearless Leader mentioned in another thread, you only really need three bigs in any game. Injuries are obviously a factor in Turiaf getting playing time, but those can't be predicted. Rather, the real factor is that our starting center has a foul rate of 4.3 per 36 minutes (down to 3.8 last year), which means that it's not unlikely that DJ will find himself in foul trouble. Fortunately, Ryan Hollins, for whom Steve wrote a preview yesterday, will likely only see time on the court when the Clippers face the Lakers or Sixers, teams with superb big men. Turiaf, on the other hand, may turn up much more frequently, and I think that unlike Hollins, he may actually deserve a solid look.

I know what many of you are thinking. Turiaf hasn't ever played more than 22 minutes per game, and when he did, he was on a Warriors team that wasn't very good, and he wasn't very good when he was out there. He's never been a scorer (career high of 6.6 ppg) or a rebounder (career high of 4.6 rpg). But wait a minute, if he hasn't been playing a lot of minutes, shouldn't we temper expectations for those career highs? Much like Reggie Evans, Turiaf is more than meets the stat-sheet (actually, the stat sheet likes him, but more on that later).

Yes, Reggie was a far superior rebounder, but Turiaf is better at just about everything else. Turiaf is actually a very efficient scorer, despite his few shot attempts. He's got a true shooting percentage of 57.1%, which is higher than any Clipper last year except for DJ and Chris Paul. On top of that, over the last three years, Turiaf's 61.4% true shooting percentage makes him the 12th most efficient scorer in the league (for players who've played over 300 mins). From watching Turiaf on the Warriors and Lakers, I know that Turiaf rarely shoots, but when he does, he usually takes a good, open shot (a.k.a. dunk). I'd say the knock on him isn't that he's a poor scorer, it's that he's too hesitant and likely misses a lot of good shot opportunities. Buried so deep in the rotation, I'm perfectly fine with that.

Another area of Turiaf's game that's underrated is his ability to defend. His rotations aren't phenomenal, as we saw against Denver, a team that will destroy poor rotating defenses. Still, the guy can block shots. Over his career, he's averaged 2.7 blocks per 36 minutes. And even in his limited minutes, he's averaged 1.4 blocks per game. That's way better than Blake (or Reggie/Kenyon last year, combined), and right about where DJ has always been. So with Turiaf on the floor at the same time as DJ, the Clippers would have a ton of rim protection. According to Synergy Sports, last year with the Heat, Turiaf held opponents to 35.8% shooting. Most of that is due to strong pick-and-roll defense, where he's consistently been strong (according to a 2010 ESPN article discussing Turiaf to the Knicks, in 2009-10 he held pick-and-roll opponents to 34.8%, good for 3rd best in the league). Not bad, right?

That being said, I think we need to know what we're getting with Turiaf. He's a pretty solid rebounder (think Kenyon Martin) and very good shot blocker (think DeAndre Jordan) who is decent from the line (67.7% career) and pretty good at guarding the pick-and-roll. He doesn't know many different ways to score, and he's probably going to commit a ton of fouls. I mean, reading that description, he's not that different than DeAndre, right? He's just shorter (6'10", 7'1.5" wingspan, standing reach about 7 inches shorter than DJ).

As usual, my three favorite advanced stats (PER, Wins Produced, Win Shares) each have a different take on Ronny (averaged over the last 3 years). In general, they like him for the Clippers:

  • PER ranks him 241st in the league, which is not very good. It's fine for a bench player, though, as John Hollinger defines a 13.0 PER player as being "in the rotation," and Turiaf's PER was 13.1 over the last 3 years.
  • Win Shares has Turiaf much higher, ranked at 143rd. According to Bill James, the creator of Win Shares, 0.100 WS/48 is defined as being "average," and Turiaf has WS/48 of 0.113.
  • Wins Produced is the most favorable for Turiaf, which ranks him at 136th. David Berri, creator of Wins Produced, also defines "average" at 0.100 WP/48, and Turiaf has a WP/48 of 0.129.

Perhaps I'm being a little too optimistic in my excitement for this season, but for the 4th big off the bench, Turiaf's not too bad at all. He's not great, but he's worth the minimum contract he was given, and I can almost guarantee that he's not worse than the other teams' fourth bigs. My hope is that he never sees more than 10-15 minutes per game, and that he's always ahead of Hollins in the rotation. And with the 1 through 3 spots as strong as they are on this team, I don't think someone like Turiaf needs to worry about doing more than what he's already good at.