Ryan Desmarais is a senior at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester, where he will receive his BA in English in December 2009. He currently resides in Manchester, NH.
After having the Portland Trail Blazers wine and dine him for two days, Hedo Turkoglu gave a sudden thanks-but-no-thanks to the Great Northwest and jetted up to Canada where he promptly agreed to a deal with the Toronto Raptors. Turkoglu’s reason for the “change of heart” has been rumored to be everything from more money to the style of play to his wife’s preference of city (which might be the most important reason of all). Whatever the reason was that brought Turkoglu to Toronto, the marriage between the 30-year-old and the Raptors could be a match made in hoops heaven.
While Turkoglu’s game fit very well with Orlando’s pick-and-roll, 3-happy offense, Toronto’s style of play might compliment his abilities even more. The Raptors like to play a Euro-style type of basketball where there’s loads of passing in an effort to stretch the floor and where everyone on the court has the ability to shoot. Toronto was ranked fifth in the league in assists this past season and both of their starting big men, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani, have tremendous range. Bosh can consistently hit the 18-footer, while Bargnani is a 7-footer who sank 119 three-pointers last season while shooting just under 41% from behind the arc. Turkoglu’s ability to ball-handle and dribble-drive will either allow him to get to the hoop easily or draw double-teams from opposing defenses, creating kick-out lanes to the perimeter where the ball can swing to open shooters planted on the outside. This can also allow Turkoglu to get many more open looks from long-range, where he is downright deadly.
Turkoglu also brings added leadership to a relatively young team. Of the other four players who are most likely to be in the starting lineup for Toronto next season, three of them will be 25 years old or younger around the time of the season opener. Turkoglu’s ability to play the point-forward position, along with his above-average decision-making skills, allow him to see the floor more clearly than many of the younger guys that he’ll be playing with. He’ll be able to direct traffic on both ends and share his knowledge with the younger guys like Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan, building chemistry along the way.
And maybe this move can convince Bosh to stay in Toronto long-term? Bosh has the opportunity to add intensity to the storm that is the 2010 free agent class and, while it is almost certain that he will opt out after this season, this move might convince CB4 to re-sign and see what kind of damage the team can do with all of these parts. The signing of Turkoglu shows that the Raptors have no problem spending money on quality players and it shows Bosh that the team is making a commitment to win. With a nice mix of youth and veterans, Bosh could see Toronto as being on the verge of doing something special.
The Raptors have a vision of how they want this team to play and where they think this team is going. Turkoglu’s signing solidifies this vision and it is a commitment to the type of team they want to be long-term. With a very good point guard in Jose Calderon, a draft pick with high expectations in DeRozan, a superstar in Bosh and an ownership that isn’t afraid to invest, Toronto is setting themselves up nicely not only to win now, but to become a serious contender year in and year out.