We are continuing with our preseason Expected Scoring player profiles. Today we’ll be looking at the Phoenix Suns’ Hedo Turkoglu.
If you’ve missed my other posts on the subject, Expected Points uses a player’s FGA from each area of the floor and multiplies it by the average number of points scored on that type of shot to come up with an Expected Point total from that area. The Expected Point total can than be compared to the actual number of points a player scored from that area to arrive at a Point Differential. This point differential is an expression of how a player shot compared to the league average, but I like that the comparison is drawn with actual point totals. The average values of shots by location that I use (At Rim – 1.208, <10ft. – 0.856, 10-15ft. – 0.783, 16-23ft. – 0.801, 3PT – 1.081, FT – 0.759) were calculated by Albert Lyu of ThinkBlueCrew.
Turkoglu’s career has been in a free-fall since he and the Orlando Magic lost in the 2009 Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers. That summer Turkoglu left as a free agent for Toronto. He never fit in the offense, struggled with injuries, and left the team, the fans and himself eager to part ways. This summer Turkoglu was traded and became a member of the Phoenix Suns.
Joining the Suns was going to require some adjustment on Turkoglu’s part. In Orlando, Turkoglu frequently filled the role of primary ball-handler, spending a lot of time creating shots for himself and his teammates in the pick and roll. In Toronto, he was asked to spend more time playing off the ball and struggled. The situation seems like it will only be exacerbated in Phoenix with Steve Nash and Goran Dragic playing point guard. Each side was optimistic after the trade, but things do not look rosy after Turkoglu’s performance in the preseason. Here are his traditional stats (per 40 minutes) from his last season in Orlando, his one season in Toronto, and the 2010-2011 preseason:
There are a few positives here. Turkoglu will likely spend a lot of time at power forward for Phoenix, and he seems to have embraced this to some extent, rebounding at a career high rate. He also has shown some defensive effort in the preseason, blocking shots and stealing the ball at rate much higher than his career average.
That being said, Turkoglu’s shooting numbers have been atrocious. With FG and 3PT percentages hovering around 30%, Turkoglu is clearly not meeting expectations in Phoenix. He is being asked to contribute primarily as a scorer and shooter as opposed, to creator and he has struggled mightily.
Let’s now break down his scoring efficiency, or lack there of, in a little more depth. Below is a table showing Turkoglu’s Expected Points, Actual Points and Point Differential for each area of the floor from the last three seasons and through this preseason (all numbers are per 40 minutes). If you prefer a spreadsheet to the embedded table photo, here is the link.
Turkoglu is actually scoring at an above expected rate at the rim in the preseason with Phoenix. This is about the only bright spot so far in his time with the Suns. The shots that are going to be most available to Turkoglu in Phoenix are jumpshots and in the preseason he was absolutely miserable shooting jumpers. On all shots from 10ft. and out, Turkoglu is scoring 3.81 less points per 40 than expected. Even with his above average scoring at the rim and on free throws, he still scored 2.72 less points per 40 than expected.
Another piece of bad news for the Suns is that his terrible scoring efficiency numbers in the preseason don’t seem that out of character for him. In only one of his last four seasons has he posted a positive overall Point Differential. He shoots a lot 3PTs, and generally scores at an above expected rate but not by a large margin. Over the last four seasons he has never posted a positive point differential on 16-23ft. jumpers.
Chances are his scoring efficiency will even out over the course of the season. His Point Differential on 3PTs will likely be close to zero or a slight positive. However, his Point Differential on shots close to the basket will likely drop and also end up being closer to zero. The fact remains that it is difficult to imagine him providing efficient scoring overall.
It seems the Suns looked at his skill set, and thought they could reduce some parts (ball handling, shot creation) while their system would increase his efficiency in others (shooting, scoring). Thus far Turkoglu has shown nothing to indicate his ability to be successful in a complimentary role centered primarily around knocking down outside shots. The good news for the Suns is that they have plenty of roster flexibility, and several other players who can step in and fill those minutes effectively. The bad news is that Turkoglu is under contract for another four seasons, at a rough total of 45 million. It behooves both sides to continue to try to make the best of this situation, but come February the Suns might need to be looking for a trade partner to take on Turkoglu.