Hedo Turkoglu struggles to find his way with Suns
The Suns have gotten off to a 1-3 start to the season, which is no surprise to the many people who predicted rough patches for this team after losing Amar’e Stoudemire. What has been unexpected is that Phoenix has been in each game, usually letting them slip away late as the team searches for its late-game weapon. For having had to play four teams that won at least 50 games last season, a 1-3 record is not bad all things considered.
But it could be better.
For one, the offense has a tendency to stagnate. Most surprisingly, this occurs more frequently when Steve Nash is on the floor rather than Goran Dragic. Nash is only averaging 6.8 assists per game while Dragic is averaging six per game over his last three games and doing so in about half the minutes.
The reason is that Dragic is a scoring point guard, putting defenses on their toes when he penetrates the lane, and when the defense collapses on him, he has shown a great knack for finding open players.
> Browse a great selection of Phoenix Suns apparel & merchandise!
Teams know that Nash does not have the same mindset as Dragic. He looks for a teammate when he penetrates, but without a potent pick-and-roll player by his side, defenses have stayed home, giving Nash fewer options on offense. Now, open looks that Jason Richardson and Grant Hill used to have are gone, leaving Nash with two frequent options in the half-court offense: take a shot himself or try to force-feed Robin Lopez.
The biggest problem is that Hedo Turkoglu, the starting power forward, is not a pick-and-roll player, and outside of Hakim Warrick, who is finding a good rhythm with both Nash and Dragic, the Suns have no natural pick-and-roll guy. Lopez can do it on occasion but oftentimes finds himself in a difficult position and has a tendency to let his guard down when the pass doesn’t come his way immediately, resulting in turnovers.
And to make matters worse, the bench unit of Dragic, Josh Childress, Jared Dudley, Warrick, and Channing Frye is beginning to find a groove, putting to rest the notion of having Turkoglu come off the bench to facilitate while Nash rests.
The ideal solution at this early stage of the season would be to trade Turkoglu for a pick-and-roll power forward. However, this is the NBA, and ideal situations like that are few and far between. The Suns’ potential wish list for a player who fits that description would include New Jersey’s Derrick Favors, Cleveland’s J.J. Hickson (or maybe even Antawn Jamison), Sacramento’s Jason Thompson, and Philadelphia’s Marreese Speights. Blake Griffin would be perfect, but the odds of the Clippers trading him away are about as good as people believing Kevin Garnett when he says he didn’t call Charlie Villanueva a cancer patient.
The more likely resolution is that Phoenix simply waits it out, hoping that coach Alvin Gentry can find a way to utilize Turkoglu effectively in the offense. After all, he is averaging just 8.5 points per game, his lowest average since 2002-03 with the Kings.
Another possibility is that a player may be traded away (Richardson has a $14.4 million expiring deal) to create room for Turkoglu to move over to his natural three position.
But one thing is for sure: Phoenix must figure out what to do with Turkoglu. His contract and performance over last season and so far this season have made him virtually untradeable, giving the Suns a question mark at their starting four position that even the Riddler would be proud of.
By: Eric Lorenz
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer
> Read all of the pro basketball articles online from ProBasketball-fans.com.