Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
On Saturday, the Orlando Magic acquired Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson (as well as Earl Clark) from the Phoenix Suns for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus, a first round pick, and cash considerations. It’s ironic that Turkoglu and Carter switch teams. For those that don’t remember, general manager Otis Smith made the decision in the offseason, after the Magic lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2009 NBA Finals, to not re-sign Turkoglu and instead trade for Carter to replace him. At first, the swap seemed to pay off — Turkoglu struggled adjusting to a new environment with the Toronto Raptors and Carter, after a rocky start, settled into his role with Orlando and helped them return to the 2010 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. However, it was in the series against the Boston Celtics that Carter was exposed and cemented people’s opinion that he couldn’t cut it on the big stage. Carter, in large part, was traded to provide the Magic a go-to scorer in the playoffs but he was unable to do so, given that he’s not the same player that he once was in his prime. And even though Carter was having a very efficient season for Orlando this year, when push came to shove, he wasn’t able to get buckets at will. As such, perimeter scoring continued to be an achilles heel for the Magic and after a little over one season, Smith cut the cord on the Carter experiment and has brought Turkoglu back into the field.
Is this a mea culpa for Smith?
Before breaking down Turkoglu’s potential impact with Orlando, let’s talk about the player that stands out the most from the trade.
Turkoglu’s return to the Magic will get a lot of attention from the mainstream media, which is understandable since he’s returning to a place where he gained the most prominence as a professional athlete.
But Richardson is someone that Orlando exactly needs — a shot creator that has a playoff pedigree.
regular season (top) vs. playoffs (bottom)
Nearly every NBA fan knows about Richardson’s exploits in the 2007 NBA Playoffs when he was able to help the Golden State Warriors pull off the upset of the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round. But Richardson was also able to make a name for himself in the playoffs last year, when he aided the Phoenix Suns in making a surprise trip to the 2010 NBA Western Conference Finals. Richardson was excellent in the postseason and even though he returned to earth against the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s instances like his game-tying three-pointer in Game 5 with 3.5 seconds left, before Ron Artest made a game-winning shot for the Lakers, that show he shines when the lights are at their brightest.
Did I mention that Richardson can score?
Via Synergy Sports Technology:
|2010-2011 regular season||Time||Poss.||PPP*||Rank||Rating|
Richardson isn’t the type of scorer that attacks the rim and draws fouls. That’s never been Richardson’s forte. Instead, Richardson has been able to develop into a good marksman from the perimeter, especially from three-point range. Considering a majority of the Magic’s offensive schemes center on a shooters’ ability to spot-up on the perimeter and knock down shots, Richardson is an excellent fit. An added bonus is that Richardson nary turns the basketball over — his turnover percentage of 6.7 percent is third in the NBA. Richardson’s ability to take care of the ball adds to his efficiency because he doesn’t waste possessions. Screen and curls are also in Richardson’s repertoire offensively.
Defensive deficiencies aside, Orlando acquired a wing player in his prime that is playing at a high level. Still, the presence of head coach Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard should help to shore up Richardson’s weaknesses on defense.
As for Turkoglu, well, he knows what the deal is.
Turkoglu made a name for himself with the Magic and a lot of it had to do with the fact that Van Gundy trusted him and handed him the reigns of the offense. One of the main reasons that Orlando reached the Finals two years ago was because the 3/5 pick and roll with Turkoglu and Howard was nearly impossible to stop. The appeal of Turkoglu in the Magic’s offense is that he’s a 6’10” small forward that can play point guard and initiate plays on the perimeter. Turkoglu wasn’t able to play his game with the Raptors or Suns, mainly because he didn’t have the basketball in his hands as much and couldn’t be the playmaker that he was accustomed of being.
Granted, with the presence of Jameer Nelson and Gilbert Arenas, it’ll be interesting to see how the arrangement works when it comes to Turkoglu’s ball-handling responsibilities.
That being said, Turkoglu knows Orlando’s offense like the back of his hand. Also, if anyone knows how to get the most out of Turkoglu, it’s Van Gundy.
Magic fans shouldn’t expect for Turkoglu to come back and play like he did in 2009 because he’s two years older and many things have changed. However, if there’s anywhere in which Turkoglu will succeed, it’s Orlando.
Deep down, Van Gundy and Smith knew that.
Maybe Turkoglu will recapture his former glory and play the role of “Mr. Fourth Quarter” for the Magic, coming through in the clutch like he used to do. Maybe not.