Hedo Turkoglu: Key Stats
I've always liked Hedo Turkoglu, but he's had an up-and-down career in the NBA. When he signed a very lucrative contract in Toronto several years ago he went from being an under-the-radar bargain player who many considered underrated, to suddenly being overrated and overpaid. Certainly he was not as productive in Toronto or Phoenix as he had been in Orlando (where he was in an almost perfect situation for his skillset). But it was the perception of Turkoglu after he signed that huge contract that changed more than anything else.
When the Los Angeles Clippers signed the long-time veteran last January at the age of 35 it seemed strange. But Turkoglu played quite well for LA in a limited role, and with a roster spot available, Doc Rivers decided to bring him back for a full season.
In his heyday, Turkoglu played small forward and even some shooting guard while handling the ball a lot on offense. This is not that Turkoglu. He played exclusively at the power forward last season and will likely play there again this year (despite the Clippers' needs at the three spot). Hedo simply doesn't have the lateral quickness to defend the wing at this point.
Luckily for the Clippers, he did have a career year rebounding the ball (on a per minute basis). He also shoot the three ball better than he ever has, making 22 of 50 attempts in limited minutes. (Good thing too, as he made less than 40% of his two point shot attempts.) For about ten minutes a game, Turkoglu was a pretty good facsimile of a stretch four, a player Rivers had been looking for since arriving in LA.
Turkoglu will turn 36 before the start of the playoffs, but his game was never really predicated on quickness and athleticism. The Clippers are much deeper in the big positions this season and may not need him as much, but he does provide something that none of the other front court reserves do, and that is playmaking. Whether Rivers decides to do so remains to be seen, but one can certainly envision a second unit with Jordan Farmar spotting up off the ball while Turkoglu triggers the offense as a point four.
I do hope we get to see some of Turkoglu paired with DeAndre Jordan this season. The four-five pick and roll between those two last season was a lot of fun. Turkoglu loves throwing lob passes and Jordan loves finishing them. Defenders are accustomed to playing against big-small pick and rolls — but when you get two bigs involved in the play they can get confused. Look for that play when Turkoglu is on the court with Jordan.
As of now, it would seem that Turkoglu is probably out of the rotation as long as the four bigs ahead of him on the depth chart stay healthy. But he's not a bad guy to have as your 12th or 13th man. When he's in, he will give the Clippers a different look as a playmaker at the four. Plus he provides a veteran presence and playoff experience.
Perhaps he can get in LA that which barely eluded him in Orlando — a championship ring.