There are very few Magic players out there playing right now. No player on Orlando’s roster is playing at the Las Vegas Impact League. Dwight Howard or Gilbert Arenas have not been hooping it up at the Drew or Goodman or one of the various other pro-am leagues NBA players have been frequenting. This is not to say they are not working out or working on their games — the team will begin coming together next week, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports. By all accounts, they are.
The only player that has played organized basketball this summer is Hedo Turkoglu.
Turkoglu completed his run at EuroBasket, the European Olympic qualifying tournament, last week as Turkey fell in the second round. Turkey had some high expectations for this tournament after reaching the finals of the FIBA World Championships last summer. This time, Turkey could not get out of its second round group, winning only its first two games and losing four of the five games in the second round.
It was a disappointing showing for Turkey.
Turkoglu has always been the pride and joy of Turkey. The Michael Jordan of Turkey, so they would say. I even remember seeing Turkoglu celebrating a game-winner in Chicago gracing the front page of a newspaper in Istanbul in January 2008. Turkoglu matters to Turkey. And the national team has always mattered to Turkoglu. He has sometimes admittedly worked himself to exhaustion trying to represent his country on the basketball court.
Surely, if there was any place Turkoglu could rediscover his form, playing at EuroBasket for Turkey was going to be the place.
But it seems it is not the place as the new wave of talent — such as NBA Draft pick Enes Kanter and the Bulls’ Omer Asik — begins coming in to replace Turkoglu’s generation of players. Turkoglu is not quite the star for the national team he once was and he is seeing the ball go away from him more and more, much like in the NBA.
Turkoglu averaged 27.0 minutes per game (behind only Milwaukee Ersan Ilyasova on the team), posting 10.6 points per game. That was good for second on the team.
But his shooting continued to be a concern. Turkoglu shot 38.8 percent from the field and 15.6 percent on 3-pointers. He led the team with 80 field goal attempts — an average of 10.0 per game — during the tournament and was not afraid to let fly. He just was not making them. His effective field goal percentage was 41.9 percent and his true shooting percentage came out to 46.5 percent. Turkoglu was not scoring efficiently and not getting to the line. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel specifically notes that Turkoglu shot 0 for 11 in his final three games for Turkey in the tournament, a sign perhaps that Turkoglu is losing a step and his legs are not what they once were despite a better conditioning regimen.
Those, of course, are two things Orlando needs Turkoglu to do. Those were two things that made him successful in his first sting with Orlando.
Last year, Turkoglu averaged 12.1 points per game in 56 games, shooting 44.8 percent from the floor and 40.4 percent from long range. In the Playoffs though, Turkoglu really struggled, averaging 9.2 points per game on 29.4 percent field goal shooting. Josh Smith really gave him some trouble offensively as the Magic struggled in the six-game series.
It should be remembered when looking at Turkoglu’s European stats that FIBA play is much different than NBA play. In FIBA they allow zone defenses which clog the lane and encourage teams to shoot more difficult outside jumpers. Turkoglu averaged 12.3 points per game in last year’s run to the FIBA World Championship Finals, so his stats clearly went down.
He has not really played extremely well for his national team since averaging 19.2 points per game at the 2007 EuroBasket. Since moving to the NBA, he has averaged at least 10.0 points per game in every international competition except the 2009 EuroBasket.
You do not want to put a whole lot of stock in the small data set coming from these tournament scenarios. But I agree with Josh Robbins, these numbers are not encouraging. Turkoglu may rediscover some spark in training camp (whenever that is) and might get hot again. That does not seem like something you want to rely on though.
The 2012 Magic are a murky group right now. We simply do not know what we are going to get from a lot of these players. Turkoglu’s play at EuroBasket, gives a glimpse at one of those pieces. And the returns do not appear good.
Rashard Lewis, Otis Smith at the Center of Lockout
There are a lot of contracts people point to showing that the NBA’s salary cap structure is broken. One of them was Otis Smith giving Rashard Lewis a max contract. We knew at the time Lewis was not worth a max contract and everyone seemed convinced of that except for Smith. Whether Smith was negotiating against himself or there was actually an offer Smith needed to beat to secure Lewis’ services is a question for another day — and might not mean much.
What is clear though is that it provides a clear glimpse into what the lockout is all about. On one side you have the players saying, the owners gave us this money and who are we to turn it down or take less than offered? On the other you have owners not getting what they paid for when they signed a deal three or four years prior.
Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel puts it best, the answer is somewhere in the middle. Hopefully the two sides figure it all out before we lose games.
Magic in the Community
Chris Duhon is getting set to host a charity bowling tournament to support the Seminole County Public Schools’ Families in Transition program. FIT benefits homeless children in Seminole County, a very worthy cause. Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick and Quentin Richardson are expected to attend. The bowling tournament is scheduled for Saturday at World Bowling Center from 6-9 p.m. Visit Duhon’s Website for more information.
Also, the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation won a SPORTY award for community spirit from the Central Florida Sports Commission.
Photos via DayLife.com.