Stan Van Gundy compared placing the ball in Hedo Turkoglu's hands as something of a gamble. Turkoglu is known as much for his ability to create plays as he is for making puzzling ones.
Sure, everyone remembers Turkoglu's playoff performances on the way to the 2009 NBA Finals, but who remembers he shot only 43 percent during that postseason and had an effective field goal percentage of 48.1 percent? For as much as everyone wants to make their memories of Turkoglu all rosy and brilliant, there was plenty of frustration in Hedo's first run in Orlando.
As numerous writers have pointed out, the tinge of the glasses you view Turkoglu through certainly does effect how you view him. Surely fans in Toronto and Phoenix do not have the same affection for him that fans in Orlando have. The strange part is, Brendan Jackson of the Point Forward is right, Turkoglu is paying dividends for the Magic all while putting up virtually the same numbers he did in Phoenix.
"When I have the ball in my hands, I am able to do the things that I'm good at," Turkoglu said. "It's not like I want the ball in my hands all the time or want everything to run through me. I am just using my strengths and my strengths are to be the guy who is a facilitator creating my own shots or for my teammates. As long as I do those things and we win the game, I am happy about it."
Stan Van Gundy said Turkoglu's versatility really showed in Turkoglu's triple double Monday. He was impressed with how he passes out of the high pick and roll and makes decisions.
There is certainly still a little bit of a gamble with Turkoglu, but as Van Gundy said, he can usually depend on the forward to make the right play. What the Magic probably do better than the Raptors or Suns is keep him involved and keep putting the ball in his hands. As Sebastian Pruiti of NBA Playbook pointed out, Orlando also gives Turkoglu the freedom to work from the top of the key. In his previous two stops, that domain belonged to Jose Calderon and Steve Nash -- two outstanding point guards in their own right.
In Orlando, Turkoglu gets to be a point forward.
"He's playing really well right now," Van Gundy said after Turkoglu's triple double performance Monday. "Not that I am making a comparison to where he was, it's just he is playing well. I think he is a guy who does thrive wtih teh ball in his hands and gets energetic when the ball is in his hands. Off the ball he tends to just sort of stand around and not do a whole lot. When the ball gets to him and he is involved, he is a whole different player."
Since rejoining the Magic, Turkoglu is averaging 12.5 points per game and 5.6 assists per game. In 25 games with Phoenix, Turkoglu was averaging 9.5 points per game and 2.3 assists per game. What is clear is that Turkoglu is producing more since returning to the Magic.
What might not be so obvious, is that he is shooting just about the same he did in Phoenix this year. He was shooting 44 percent in Phoenix, and he is shooting 44 percent in Orlando. His effective field goal percentage is also startlingly similar at about 55 percent. His usage percentage is even at about the same level, he is using 16.7 percent of the Magic's plays and was at 17.1 percent in Phoenix.
For reference, he used 23.0 percent of Orlando's possessions in the 2009 season that ended with that trip to the Finals.
Turkoglu definitely has that comfort level in Orlando's offense and Stan Van Gundy just seems to know how to use him and maximize his talents. Unlike the last two years, Turkoglu seems more involved in the offense, moreso than he did the last year and a half.
Still Turkoglu is a new player getting comfortable to a new team, even if he has a comfort level with the group already.
"I think maybe I was here before. But still the system is the same and the way we play is the same. But still it's hard for me, I am playing with a lot of new guys too. I am used to Dwight and Jameer and JJ, but there are a lot of new guys that I have to learn more and more and feel more comfortable. I have to get to learn them a little bit more and where they like to catch the ball and make them easy points."