Hedo’s Struggles


Hedo Turkoglu has really struggled to score in the Magic’s last five games. Photo by: Keith Allison, Source: Flickr, found with Wylio.com

This feels like a broken record. It seems every week we are asking what is wrong with at least one player on the Magic’s roster. Two weeks ago it was Jameer Nelson. Last week, it was Jason Richardson. This week, it seems we are wondering where Hedo Turkoglu’s offense has gone.

This is not quite the Hedo Turkoglu we remember.

Turkoglu is averaging 10.0 points per game and shooting a 51.0 percent effective field goal percentage in 37 games since rejoining the Magic. But in his last five games, Turkoglu has really struggled. He has scored just 21 total points in the last five, and he has scored only five in the last three. In those games, Turkoglu is shooting 9 for 23. That is an average of about four shot attempts per game.

It is really puzzling, especially considering that six games ago, Turkoglu scored 19 points in the loss to Sacramento. His production, scoring-wise at least, has fallen completely off the map.

His usage rate in those five games has not cleared 15.0 percent — and he has a usage rate of 15.5 percent this year and 20.5 percent for his career. In fact during his “All-Star” caliber years in 2008 and 2009, his usage rate was 24.8 percent and 23.0 percent. When Turkoglu said “ball” in Toronto (where he had an 18.1 percent usage rate), he really meant it. His usage rate since his return to Orlando is the lowest of his career.

Even though Stan Van Gundy perhaps knows how to use Turkoglu better than any other coach, he is likely not using Turkoglu enough. Or perhaps Turkoglu has faded too much into the background, as he sometimes does.

Foul trouble has limited Turkoglu the last few games. In his last five games, he is averaging 4.0 fouls per game and has picked up at least three in all of his previous five games. The first thing, Turkoglu has to do is stay on the floor. Who knows if that number would not be higher if he had not been thrown out of Tuesday’s win over New York.

The aggression in getting to the basket seems to be the big difference for Turkoglu recently. In his last five games he has attempted only five shots at the rim according to HoopData.com and getting to the foul line for only one attempt. For a player who is supposed to be a high usage guy and someone the team can go to in the high pick and roll, those numbers are simply not going to cut it.

What is worse, Turkoglu has not attempted a shot at the rim in the last three games. In fact, Turkoglu has only five shots between 3-15 feet (and none within nine feet of the basket) in the last five games. Turkoglu recently has spent most of his time going for the most inefficient shot — the long two — and hoisting up threes, which he is not doing at a great rate so far this season.

These stats are incredibly puzzling for sure.

Despite all this, Stan Van Gundy said Friday he has had no thoughts about replacing Turkoglu in the lineup.

It should be noted then that, despite Turkoglu’s struggles shooting the basketball, Turkoglu is still a decent distributor and someone who is facilitating the offense a bit. He is averaging 5.0 assists per game in the last five, including a 10-assist effort against Oklahoma City, six assists the next game against Charlotte and five assists against Miami.

His assist rate has been above 40 percent in three of the five games and his low during that stretch was 25 percent against Chicago on Friday. Turkoglu may not be doing much offensively, but he is passing the ball well.

That might be enough to keep him on the floor. He is not creating for himself (as evidenced in the fact that in three of the last five games he has been assisted on well over two-thirds of his field goal makes and in the other two, where he was a combined one for nine, he was not assisted on any) but is still finding a way to create for others.

Much like with Jameer Nelson, Turkoglu has to find a balance in creating for himself and for others for this team to be successful.