With the recent addition of Hedo Turkoglu, the Raptors have essentially eliminated any chance of getting enough depth to compensate for their lack of overall star-power. They will be heading into next season with a projected starting front court of Turkoglu, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani.
The problem is that while Bargnani played at an All-Star level for the latter half of last season and Turkoglu was arguably worthy of an All-Star selection himself, Bosh is not a great candidate to be a primary option and he’s shown it for many years now.
Some may be tricked into thinking that Turkoglu was the engine that sparked the Orlando attack last season, but those people really don’t understand basketball and what exactly it is that Dwight Howard does.
While no one would confuse him for being an elite passer or a dominant offensive player at this stage, Howard’s presence in the paint offensively and defensively allowed the Magic to pass by with players like Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu as primary scoring options.
I’ll stress defensive impact more than offensive, because the Orlando Magic didn’t have exceptional perimeter defensive players by any stretch. What Dwight did was allow players like Lewis and Turkoglu to look like passable defenders. With Chris Bosh, the outcome doesn’t look quite so promising.
Forget that Turkoglu will be a year older, because his game isn’t overly dependent on his physical abilities, but you’d have to assume this will be one of the worst defensive teams in the league next season if it remains as is.
The only passable defenders they have are backup point guard Roko Ukic, potential starter DeMar DeRozan and perhaps center Andrea Bargnani.
Turkoglu isn’t quite on the horrific level of Bosh and Calderon, but he certainly isn’t Ariza, Artest or Marion. He will have a difficult task ahead if he’s being asked to mask the weaknesses of his starting point guard and power forward while picking up the rebounding for one of the worst rebounding centers in recent memory.
The Raptors had a chance to truly become a better defensive team after they dealt weak link Jason Kapono for Reggie Evans and followed by drafting DeMar DeRozan. The Turkoglu signing which signals the end of Marion’s stay north of the border essentially makes the Raptors a worse defensive team than they were last season, and they were among the worst in the league to begin with.
Offensively however, while the Raptors did get a much-needed creator on the wing, they’ve signed a player who at his best is a great complimentary player. In Toronto, the question people should be asking is, who the hell is he complimenting?
Turkoglu is ideally a great second or third option on a decent team, much like Bosh or Bargnani. The Raptors don’t have the pieces to orchestrate a deal to get a primary option ala Joe Johnson or Brandon Roy on this team.
Thus, the Raptors go into the season with a line-up which features a rookie swingman with some potential, and four players who essentially all play at about the same level in terms of production with slight variance based on shots attempted and role played.
Not one of them is a top-20 talent in this league, not one of them can actually take over a game and not one of them is good enough defensively to make up for the piss-poor defenders around them.
The only logical move at this point is dealing Bosh for defensive help in the front court and perhaps additional depth and working on a 3-man offensive attack with Turkoglu, Calderon and Bargnani.
Role players can make a world of difference, and outside of perhaps Reggie Evans, there isn’t a player on this team who’s effective at doing small things without the ball in their hands.
We’ve seen Andrea Bargnani struggle when he wasn’t a clear second option on offense. Jose Calderon’s entire game is about ball movement and keeping defences honest with his jump shot. Bosh is a black hole on offense and requires isolation situations to be effective. Hedo Turkoglu is being brought in as a creator and will need to have the ball in his hands as well.
At this point, if the Raptors don’t deal either Jose or Bosh to strengthen their defence and create some touches for youngsters DeMar DeRozan and Andrea Bargnani, they’ll be headlining the John Wall sweepstakes pretty soon.
Not to mention, they’ll be stunting the growth of the two players they’ll be looking to build around in the event that Bosh leaves in DeRozan and Bargnani.
The roster as it’s currently structured doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense. There is a complete overlap in abilities, incompatibility in regards to players meshing with other players, and a disturbing message being put across to the fan base, which is: we don’t care if we’re the worst defensive team in the league provided we can score.
The option of adding Delfino and Marion gave the Raptors both depth and defence. Adding Turkoglu robs them of flexibility, depth, defence and rebounding, and does so for a player who doesn’t necessarily fit in with the team’s top-three players.
This move wreaks of desperation and haphazard planning. It screams that the team is looking to make noise at whatever cost necessary in order to show Chris Bosh they’re serious about contending.
Well, not only will they not be contending for a very long time unless one of DeRozan or Bargnani accelerate their learning curve dramatically and become All-Stars, but they’ll be paying $53 million over the next five years to one of the most over-rated players in recent memory.