Make no mistake, since Hedo Turkoglu left the Orlando Magic in the Summer of 2009 the team has missed his unique talents. What was not as obvious was the way Turkoglu has missed the Magic. After leading the team to the Finals in 2009, Turkoglu signed a contract with the Toronto Raptors. It would be an understatement to say that Turkoglu was not himself as a member of the Raptors.
After averaging 17 points a game for Orlando in 2009, Turkoglu’s average dipped to 11 points a contest in his one and only season with the Raptors. Before the start of this season, the Raptors traded Turkoglu to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Leandro Barbosa and Dwayne Jones. The Suns were looking to fill the scoring void left by Amare Stoudemire by adding Turkoglu to their high octane offense. However, Turkoglu carried over his slump from Toronto as he continued to struggle in Phoenix. In 25 games with the Suns this season, Turkoglu averaged just nine points a game, often looking lost and uncomfortable on the court.
Meanwhile, after coming off a disappointing showing in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics, the Magic started this season stuck in a rut. As the Celtics, Heat, Bulls and Knicks came into this season as improved ball clubs, the Magic seemed to be losing steam as contenders in the Eastern Conference. It was evident that a change was needed in Orlando.
In the middle of December, Orlando made a trade that landed them Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu. The return of Turkoglu to Orlando has been beneficial for both parties. The team has won nine games in a row, which ties a franchise record. The Magic now seem more relevant in the Eastern Conference than they ever have.
Likewise, Turkoglu has not played this well since he last wore his Orlando uniform. In his 11 games with Orlando this season, Turkoglu is averaging 13 points, five rebounds and nearly seven assists. More importantly, he is playing with the comfort and confidence that was sorely missing in Toronto and Phoenix.
As the playoffs approach, it will be interesting to see if the Magic can make a run in the postseason the way they did in 2009. If they do, Turkoglu will be in the middle of it all, seeing as he is once again the team’s X factor. Therefore, the Magic can thank Hedo for their recent resurgence, much like Turkoglu can thank the Magic for his.
Joshua Sexton is a lifelong basketball fanatic, who watches as many games as possible. In addition, He has played and coached the game at the high school level. He has recently started writing about the game of basketball.