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Turkoglu demonstrated that he still can be one of the Magic’s most dangerous players during Monday night’s 104-95 win over the Houston Rockets.
The performance evoked memories of the ’09 Playoff Edition Turkoglu. He scored a team-high 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting and dished out four assists. He was at his best during in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 points and adding two assists.
“There’s no reason he can’t play like that,” coach Stan Van Gundy said.
And yet even Van Gundy would acknowledge that Turkoglu has been maddeningly inconsistent since Turkoglu since the Magic reacquired him a year ago in a blockbuster trade.
For proof, just flash back to Sunday night, to Orlando’s season opener in Oklahoma City. Turkoglu scored just eight points on 3-of-10 shooting. His four assists were nice, but his two turnovers hurt. And Kevin Durant sometimes made Turkoglu look foolish.
Van Gundy has studied Turkoglu’s statistics and found that Turk’s field-goal percentage, assist rate and overall efficiency compared favorably last season to Turk’s numbers in 2008-09.
The question is, why hasn’t Turkoglu been more productive?
That’s a question that a lot of Magic fans would like an answer to. The problem is that the answer is not clear-cut.
In any case, let’s get one thing straight. Even though Turkoglu’s field goal percentage, assist rate, and overall efficiency may have compared favorably last season to his numbers in 2009, there’s one number that jumps off the page and that’s his usage rate.
In the year that the Orlando Magic went to the NBA Finals, Turkoglu’s usage rate was 23.0 percent during the regular season and 21.2 percent in the playoffs. Last season, Turkoglu’s usage rate was 16.5 percent during the regular season and 18.5 percent in the playoffs. That’s a noticeable decline across the board and it’s the type of evidence that shows Turkoglu was far more passive offensively with the Magic in his second go-round with the team after being traded from the Phoenix Suns. But even though that’s one of the few easy answers that can be given with regards to Turkoglu, the reason for this trend is somewhat unexplained.
Whatever the case may be, Turkoglu needs to understand that the talent around him is, in some ways, inferior than it was in 2009. Turkoglu was reacquired because Orlando needs him to be a playmaker and shot creator, now more then ever. The Magic need the Turkoglu that’s aggressive in creating not only for others but for himself. Turkoglu’s performance against the Houston Rockets on Monday was a perfect example of the on-court wizardry Orlando needs from him on a nightly basis. Head coach Stan Van Gundy can only hope that Turkoglu turns back the clock more often than not because that’ll give the Magic the best chance to win.
Outside of Dwight Howard, there’s so many question marks on Orlando’s roster this season. If Turkoglu is willing and able, he can be a known commodity again and someone that can be relied upon. Van Gundy has made it clear that there’s no reason Turkoglu can’t play like he did against the Rockets on a nightly basis. The only person that’s stopping Turkoglu from doing so is himself.
If anything, with the Magic trying to find a legitimate No. 2 option on offense, Turkoglu could fill that void but can he?
That question also remains to be answered.