NBA Roundtable

Three Raptors Thoughts

In General NBA on October 31, 2009 at 11:26 pm

#1 Hedo Turkoglu

If Hedo Turkoglu isn’t allowed to control the basketball and run the offense then he’s only a role player. You’ll get the contribution we saw from him during his time in Sacramento, San Antonio and in Orlando pre-Stan Van Gundy.

Turkoglu is only a high end player when he’s given large amounts of time on the ball + a huge amount of freedom to do as he pleases + is a key playmaker (creator) for your team.

So far, Toronto isn’t giving him those opportunities. If the Raptors continue down this path then (1) The team is going to be significantly worse than it should be (2) his $50 million contract is going to become an albatross (3) The team won’t be able to trade him until the final two years of his contract and will stuck with his overpaid under-productive self.

The Raptors (coach + point guards) have done a very poor job of getting Hedo Turkoglu enough opportunities in the first two games.

#2 Second Unit + Turkoglu + Calderon + Jameer

Orlando and Nelson

A good way to give Hedo Turkoglu opportunities to dominate the basketball is to use him in the second unit … something the Orlando Magic used Turkoglu brilliantly last year.

This regularly helped get Hedo into the rhythm of the game when he was struggling early, or in the third quarter, and helped him finish games on a higher note.

Additionally, there was always a balance issue between Hedo Turkoglu and their talented point guard Jameer Nelson. Both players needed the ball in their hands to be most effective and there were times where finding the balance was a difficult issue for them. Playing Turkoglu in the second unit, and then letting Jameer take over when Turkoglu sat, allowed both players extra opportunities to express their skills. Those opportunities helped each player stay in (or establish) their rhythm which helped the Magic close both the first half and end-of-game situations off on a high note.

Toronto and Calderon

The same balancing act was always going to true for the Raptors also. In fact, it’s more of an issue for the Raptors because Calderon isn’t as effective off the ball as Jameer Nelson (not as good a scorer, more a Steve Blake type player off the ball than a Nelson type player). Consequently, both players were (relative to last year) going to lose some time on the ball and that was going to create diminishing returns for both players.

In order to maximize Turkoglu’s + Calderon’s individual value the Raptors will have to create more minutes for both players to play without the other + during the minutes where they’re apart give the other one the opportunity to dominate the ball.

Finally, when Turkoglu plays in the second unit the offense has to run through his hands … not Jarrett Jack’s (or Belinelli’s).

Jay Triano needs to do a better job of molding the second unit in Hedo Turkoglu’s preference (screen and roll threat + shooters + players who will play off of him) in order to get the best out of Hedo Turkoglu and out of Jose Calderon. He hasn’t done that well enough in the first two games.

#3 Amir Johnson

Amir Johnson is not a stopper. He is not a good enough man-to-man defender to be a player that you stick on highly skilled offensive opposition in hopes of slowing them down.

Amir Johnson is a very good team defender and a capable defender against secondary + non-offensive threats. When used in this manner he’ll have a large effect on your team’s defense overall.

When used against talented scorers … well he’ll regularly gets eaten alive.

The (1) biting on every pump fake going (2) incessant fouling (3) general sub-par defensive work makes him an easy mark for any skilled offensive player. Throughout the last two years in Detroit Amir Johnson has been lit up with regularity whenever he’s been pitted against a 20+ppg threat.

There’s a wrong way and right way to use Amir Johnson defensively.


Also, stop playing Amir Johnson for two minutes and pulling him out.

The overwhelming majority of players will struggle when given playing time in that manner … and Amir is especially susceptible to this. It creates inconsistency and self-doubt in his game.

Either leave him in the game or don’t play him at all. Just stop doing this.

  1. I agree about Turkoglu handling the ball more, but I chalk that up to it being early in the season. I’m very anxious to see the game against Orlando.

    An I don’t know what the deal is with giving young players a couple of minutes. Veterans can do that sort of thing, but young guys need minutes.

  2. I’m surprise to hear this as of all places Hedo is struggling in Toronto, the only place where an international player can enjoy his basketball at his best. I’m sure they brought him some reason and that reason is not at all like this.

    Btw, would it be possible to have this starting five for the Raptors: –

    F – Hedo Turkoglu
    F – Andrea Bargnani
    C – Rasho Nesterovic
    G – Marco Belinelli
    G – Jose Calderon

    Lastly did anyone saw what happened to Manu in the Spurs/Kings game?

  3. Hey John, haha, that was brilliant!

    I was watching the game when that happened. Kevin Martin went down on the fastbreak and suddenly a bat flew right in front of him before he swooped in for a layup. The refs were so bewildered about the bat that they waited before stopping the game. Then it was just flying around like nobody’s business … with the Spurs mascot trying to catch it in a net. Then Super-Manu steps up to the plate and smacks it one! Very funny!

    Ginobili always did lead the Spurs in hand/eye coordination tests!

    Manu Ginobili killed a bat with his one hand on Halloween! And during a basketball game! You just can’t make that type of stuff up!

    Good article
    in the San Antonio Express with a funny quote from Coach Popovich.

    Update: PETA is unhappy …. link

    Toronto Raptors

    If Chris Bosh goes down with an injury, and he’s missed 12-15 games in three of the last four seasons, then there’s a good chance you’ll get to see at least four fifths of that starting lineup.

    I think Triano is going to be hesitant to sit DeRozan down in favour of Belinelli though. I think the Raptors would have to have a bad patch, a losing streak, that forces Triano to start tinkering with his starting lineup for that to happen.

    Hey Tim W,

    I’m hoping that’s all it is with Hedo too … just early season kinks.

    I’m a little worried that it’s a mixture of that + of Calderon/Jack being given roles that give them more time on the ball than what is best for Turkoglu. That even when he’s given more time on the ball it still will be a lot less (too much less) than what he had in Orlando.

    Hedo Turkoglu is one of those players who’s contributions change drastically depending on whether or not he’s in a system that caters to his talents. Any signs that system isn’t there for him makes me nervous. Before the season I was hopeful Triano would provide that because he’s given good freedom to his players since taking over last season. Anyway, we’ll see in the next few weeks.

  4. That Ginobili-bat thing is beyond bizarre. To snag a bat out of mid-air is difficult enough (those things are incredibly quick), but to do it in the middle of a basketball arena with everyone (including television cameras) watching. Amazing.

  5. I think they brought in Turkoglu for reasons other than just his passing. They needed a 2-3, one who could create his own shot off the dribble, this is something that against all biological reasoning he can do. They also needed someone to give the ball to in the closing seconds.
    Obviously they overpaid to get those things and they gave up Marion’s rebounding. I think this contract will hurt them year’s 4 and 5.

  6. Hey Prase, welcome to the site!

    I’m inconsistent with the term playmaker. I generally mean passing but in this case I mean both passing + scoring (making plays offensively). Sorry if that was unclear.

    Hedo Turkoglu generally needs picks to create his own shot, which is fine, because that suits Toronto’s offense down to a T. They have two wonderfully talented pick and roll threats in Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani. In order to get the most out of Turkoglu’s offensive ability (both scoring + passing) he has to be put in those situations more often.

    If you run a bunch of isolation plays for Turkoglu, he won’t be effective. A lot of heavily contested jumpers off the dribble which miss with regularity.

    Hedo Turkoglu — excellent passer + good scorer (16-18ppg threat with solid efficiency) + good defender (secondary wing defender) + decent rebounder (below average but serviceable) — Hedo’s passing ability is by far his best asset.

    Lose that weapon and you’re left with a player who has a solid impact on the game but not a large impact. Those passing skills need to be fully utilized for Hedo to be a high level player.

  7. It would be a good idea to start Hedo for 6 minutes than bring him back out with the 2nd unit to start 2nd quarter while JC rests.

    Jack has never had great assist numbers, playing him with Hedo will probably make a big difference.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: