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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hedo Turkoglu’s Decline has Hurt Magic

It was only two years ago when the Orlando Magic had reached the NBA Finals before deciding they had done enough for the season and laid down at the hands of the Lakers. That team had a lethal combination of the most dominant big man in the game, and a slew of shooters knocking down threes from the outside. Though the three-point shooting style of the Magic made them a frustrating team from game-to-game because their performance fluctuated, they were a talented bunch who went far in the postseason. The team’s run to the Finals seemed to signify they were bound to be a consistent force in the Eastern Conference for the next several years, but that all ended quickly.

Hedo Turkoglu, who fit in perfectly with their offense as a 6’10” forward who could run the point and shoot threes, decided to leave in free agency. The Magic made it to the Eastern Conference Finals without him last season, but they were outclassed by the Celtics falling behind 3-0 before losing in six. Turkoglu meanwhile flopped harder than a Duke player in March during his only season in Toronto, forced a trade to Phoenix, and then he was dealt to Orlando in a blockbuster deal that also involved Jason Richardson.

What we’ve come to learn is that teams that need to overhaul their roster midseason are already in poor shape so making huge trades likely won’t be enough. What we’ve also learned is that the Magic fell behind the Bulls and Heat who both improved drastically over the offseason. Most importantly, we’ve learned that Hedo Turkoglu isn’t half as effective as he was two seasons ago, and the Magic are paying the price.

Turkoglu is having about as poor of a postseason as a key player can have and he’s killing his team. Hedo is shooting a horrific 23% for the series, an even more putrid 13% on threes, and he’s only making 50% of his free throws.

On Sunday in Game 4 against the Hawks, Turkoglu had the ball stripped from him on Orlando’s final possession and then he jacked up an ugly three that bricked off the rim. He had been 2-for-11 in the game and 0-for-5 on threes when he decided to bomb up the shot instead of passing to Gilbert Arenas who was 9-for-18 in the contest.

Hedo’s performance in the series reminds me of Mo Williams’ tank job for the Cavs in the ’09 playoffs when he shot around 30% in most of Cleveland’s losses to the Magic. Orlando is counting on Turkoglu to perform and he’s letting them down enormously.

Sadly, it’s not just Hedo’s poor play that has let Orlando down and left them looking like a one-man show; Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, and Ryan Anderson have all been awful as well.

Since his studly performance in Game 1, Nelson has shot just 27% from the field and gone 1-for-14 on threes. Redick has shot just 23% for the series and made only 1 of 12 threes. Ryan Anderson has been similarly brutal shooting just 24% and making only 2 of 12 threes.

The only players who have shown up for Orlando are Dwight Howard and Brandon Bass, and that’s not enough to defeat the Hawks.

Because the Magic shoot so many threes they can still turn things around if they get hot, but they would have to rally to win three straight against the Hawks and it won’t be easy.

In the end, maybe it was all Karma for the Turkish-born Turkoglu who had one of his worst games the day the Armenian people commemorated the 96th anniversary of the Genocide as LBS contributor Arsen pointed out. He could be onto something there.



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