After seeing the new starting lineup for the Phoenix Suns against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday – featuring Hakim Warrick on the floor for the opening tipoff and Hedo Turkoglu back to his familiar role coming in off the bench, BallinEurope got to thinking about the well-traveled Turk and his effect on various teams as he bounces about seeming from contender to contender. (Hey, that’s how it is being BiE.)

Despite the fact that he’d racked up nearly five straight seasons’ worth of starting for the Orlando Magic and last year’s Toronto Euroraptors, Turkoglu only really got the nod in the Suns’ starting five due the huge wake of Amare Stoudamire’s departure.

Hindsight is 20/20, though, and BiE at 2010-11 tipoff time was somewhat stoked to see Turkoglu’s addition to the go-go Suns in a near-exhumation of the eight-second offenses of Mike D’Antoni. Slightly warping the “Cancer Effect” statistic as detailed in the FreeDarko guys’ Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac shows Turkoglu to have a CE rating of minus-32 spread over five different teams. In nearly every new spot, Hedo at least leaves a positive effect on his new squad.

(The Cancer Effect statistic is calculated simply by totaling the increase in losses suffered by a team after picking up a player plus the increase in wins enjoyed by the team departed by the player. CE was used in the ‘Almanac to measure that great disruptive force Stephon Marbury, who scored a +80 in over 10 NBA seasons; all-time CE “leader” going into 2008-09 was the immortal Cadillac Anderson with a tumorous +150.)

Do you remember when...?

Check out what Hedo’s done historically:

• 2000-01 – Drafted by the Sacramento Kings. Of three seasons with the Kings, Turkoglu peaked in his sophomore NBA year with 10.1 points in 24.6 minutes in his sophomore season, thanks to benefits of the the Corliss Williamson-for-Doug Christie trade. The 6’10” Turk also got his first experience in getting outmatched at the no. 4 spot, thanks to a certain lack of depth at the big man spots after Vlade Divac and Chris Webber (Jabari Smith, anyone…?) – a theme that would follow Hedo.

• 2003-04 – A reduction in minutes for Turkoglu in 2002-03 led to a three-team trade landing big man Brad Miller (quite an upgrade from Scot Pollard there) in Sacramento and Hedo on the San Antonio Spurs. Getting as much time with the Spurs as he’d had with the Kings in ’01-02, Turkoglu turned in a similar stat line – 9.2/3.8/1.9 in 25.9 minutes per game for San Antonio against 10.1/3.8/2.0 in 24.6 mpg two years previous – but shot threes at a deadly 41.9% clip to indicate in his contract year that he probably should be a starter.

• 2004-05 – Personal breakthrough! Turkoglu signs with the Orlando Magic and, though he spent most of the ’04-05 season as a typical European-style sixth man (think Detlef Schrempf and everyone remotely like him since), the immediate boost to the inside game with the addition of rookie Dwight Howard seemingly did wonders for Hedo’s game.

Sure, he probably had the full skill set the whole time, but with Howard the superman underneath and a rejuvenated Grant Hill deadly from any spot, Turkoglu was able to exhibit his entire shooting range for the first time in his NBA career. He responded with a barrage of 245 threes – five per game – and sank a nice 38% of ‘em. And Turkoglu’s 0.531 points per minute in ’04-05 remains his personal best.

His PER rating would peak in 2007-08, however, as Hedo started all 82 games to score a line of 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists per. After another solid season in 2008-09 – and BiE’s brain is still boggling at this – Turkoglu opted out of the final year of his contract with the Magic.

• 2009-10 – After the opt-out, Turkoglu was sent to who else but the Toronto Raptors in a sign-and-trade, four-team deal. While Turkoglu certainly didn’t appear to have lost a step in Florida, he was playing six minutes fewer per game and shot over four times fewer per game.

The live-and-die-by-the-jumper philosophy with Turkoglu at heart that once got the Orlando offense through to NBA Finals was detrimental to the Euroraptors last season, as Toronto’s own smaller-if-better-ranged Chris Bosh simply wasn’t enough to otherwise make up for lack of size on a rebounder-bereft squad.

Happier times for Hedo's game

So, going into 2010-11, a mixed bag on the surface, then. Since then … well, the picture doesn’t get much clearer until forced to a pair of simple possibilities with which to conclude. First, here are Turkoglu’s PER ratings and his minutes played:

2000-01 season: 11.7 PER, 16.8 minutes per game
2001-02: 14.2 PER, 24.6 mpg
2002-03: 12.0 PER, 17.5 mpg

2003-04: 14.1 PER, 25.9 mpg
2004-05: 16.0 PER, 26.2 mpg

2005-06: 16.7 PER, 33.5 mpg
2006-07: 14.2 PER, 31.1 mpg
2007-08: 17.8 PER, 36.9 mpg
2008-09: 14.8 PER, 36.6 mpg
2009-10: 13.3 PER, 30.7 mpg

2010-11 to date: 12.4 PER, 27.5 mpg

No direct connection seems to be available here; in fact, in terms of true production per minute, Hedo’s coach X would seemingly be happiest keeping Turkoglu right at around 25 to 26 minutes. However, his statistically peak seasons both happen in anomalous situations: First the Spurs season in which Hedo snuck into the lineup as a starter 44 times due to injuries, and second when he racked up the fourth-most minutes for Orlando as a “sixth man.”

The Rotoworld fantasy basketball brief on Turkoglu’s season following the Friday night game – the Suns 16th and Hedo’s 16th as an ill-fitting starter at the #4 spot – in which Hedo-as-Suns-starter would appear to be over is stunningly prescient:

“Hedo Turkoglu failed to score in 15 minutes on Friday, missing all three of his shots. The nightmare continues, although he had started to show some signs of life. Hakim Warrick came off the bench for a season-high 25 points to go along with six boards in 37 minutes, and could end up displacing Turk in the starting five at any time. Turkoglu wasn’t injured as far as we know, but did commit four fouls in limited run.”

As we now know, Warrick was the starter for game no. 17 and should surely be for the season’s remainder – for lack of a better power-forward in Phoenix, of course – but was Rotoworld onto something there, with that foul thing…?

"Hey, maybe fouls are the problem..."

2000-01: 16.8 minutes played per game, 4.4 fouls per 40 min.
2001-02: 24.6 mpg, 3.8 pf/40
2002-03: 17.5 mpg, 4.2 pf/40

2003-04: 25.9 mpg, 3.2 pf/40
2004-05: 26.2 mpg, 3.2 pf/40

2005-06: 33.5 mpg, 3.6 pf/40
2006-07: 31.1 mpg, 3.9 pf/40
2007-08: 36.9 mpg, 3.2 pf/40
2008-09: 36.6 mpg, 3.1 pf/40
2009-10: 30.7 mpg, 3.9 pf/40

2010-11: 27.5 mpg, 5.0 pf/40

Now BiE’s in chicken-and-egg territory with Turkoglu. Is his personal-worst hacking start due to too much playing time or vice versa? BiE’d also like to see a chart of when exactly *when* Hedo’s fouls come. Even his introductory problems adjusting to American ball were overcome with a little increase in minutes. It seems telling that in those three instances – those personal-statistic salad days of ’01-02, ’03-04, ’04-05 – when playing limited minutes but with enough support down low to create dream mismatches for an American PF-sized blessed with a European big man’s range.

Once the Suns’ switch was made, fellow ESPN TrueHoop Network blog Valley of the Suns reviewed Turkoglu’s redebut as sixth man in part thusly:

“The Phoenix Suns finally switched Hakim Warrick into the starting lineup for Hedo Turkoglu and their crunch time power forward was … Josh Childress?

“Such is life on Planet Orange, but the late fourth quarter lineup of Nash-Richardson-Hill-Childress-Frye made sense with Denver countering with a pair of point guards and a pair of wings around Nene, and Childress played well with a 15-5 and better defense than any of this teammates.

“But the move showed signs of paying off for Hedo Turkoglu, who caught fire in the second quarter and scored all 13 of his points during a five-minute stretch that kept Phoenix in the game. Hedo was allowed to be more aggressive with this unit, and he looked like Orlando Hedo for those glorious five minutes, driving to the hole and freezing bigger defenders before sticking a jumper. …

“Although Turkoglu was the same guy he’s been all season for 22 of his 27 minutes, the Suns have now given him a role that puts him in the best position to succeed, and the same can be said for Warrick.

“So while the Suns still need to acquire a real power forward to do work on the glass, this arrangement suits the team best for now.”

Hmmm … “the same guy,” eh? As a huge fan of Turkoglu, BiE may have to be finally admit that one glaring, unarguable, statistic: His age. At 31, Turkoglu is in his 11th NBA season, most of which involved some playoff games. Before joining the American league, Hedo was with Efes Pilsen’s top club for four seasons previous; top off this mileage with participation on Team Turkey in 12 international tournaments since 1995 and that 31 is an old 31.

Again BiE wonders why the man was moved to opt out of Orlando and its halfcourt offense designed for a Swiss army knife of a shooter like Turkoglu … as long as Steve Nash, the Suns and time itself refuse to stand still, BiE can’t imagine the Hedo-in-Phoenix experiment to be greatly successful.

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