In the midst of Toronto's losing streak, one can’t help but wonder what it takes for these Raptors to be a consistently good team. Toronto, in its current make up, will continue to be caught in mediocrity for seasons to come.
The Raptors had a little more to address this past offseason than toughness, athleticism, defence, and rebounding. How about a 2-3 “skilled” wing player that can cause havoc on opposing defenses, just as they do to the Raptors on a nightly basis, ala Tyreke Evans, Steph Curry, Monte Ellis, and Kobe on this current road trip alone. Hedo Turkaglu was never going to be, and has not been, the answer. The Raptors simply do not have an elite-wing player.
To begin, an elite-wing player would generally defend opposing wing players as well as they possibly could be defended because of their quickness and athleticism. The Raptors look in disarray on defence on many possessions involving penetrations from opposing wing players. The rotations aren’t crisp and decisive enough to make up for the inability of their perimeter defenders to play man-to-man.
Demar Derozen and Sonny Weems will eventually be better defenders. But Antoine Wright, Hedo, and Marco all the lack food speed to keep up with players like Kobe or Dwayne Wade.
In a league that contains a myriad of excellent 2-3 wing players that have explosive first steps and dynamic scoring ability, the Raptors have not had one since Vince Carter. During the post-VC era, the Raptors have not had a dynamic guard who ignite the offence through penetration and kicks, or strong finishes at the rim.
The Raptors don’t have any one on the team, other than Jose Calderon, who can even carry a live dribble with enough creativity to get by their defender with ease (Jarret Jack struggles to dribble by athletic guards). These types of players would make the game easier for the entire team, including Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani. Missing Vince Carter yet? A Raptor fan could say anything they can about the man, but since his departure, the Raptors have not had that type of “guard,” and thus not been a good team.
Analyzing The Raptors' Wings:
Antoine Wright: He is a decent defender with poor ball-handling ability. He is turnover prone, makes poor decisions, and is an average shooter. To sum it up, he is a very un-explosive player.
Sonny Weems: He is good, young, and full of potential. Has a good shooting touch, below average ball handling ability, is a decent defender (falls for too many ball fakes and reaches quite a bit), and settles for too many jump shots.
Demar Derozen: He has great potential, but just not there yet. He needs a few more years to become a complete player. His jump shot will improve in years, as well as his ball handling ability. He shows signs of great things when he is decisive in his penetration. But he won’t be that dynamic guard the Raptors lack for a couple of years.
Marco Belenelli: He has great shooting touch, is tough when taking it to the basket, has good passing skills, and gambles too much on defence. He's also turnover prone.
Hedo Turkaglu: Is this team really stuck with this guy for four more years? He has been the worst pick-up in Raptors' history, for the amount he is making thus far and will likely continue to be.
Turkaglu is prone to foul trouble and brings this on himself with the refs with his lackadaisical behaviour. He has become an unreliable shooting threat. He has good passing ability, but also turns the ball over too much. He is not explosive, or dynamic by any stretch of the imagination. He is not a dynamic scorer. He has not helped this team in any way, shape, or form this year.
For the years ahead, if Bosh does sign and Brian stays put with this roster, the Raptors will continue be a mediocre team. The point guard position is solid with Jack and Calderon, but BC might have to part with Calderon if nobody is willing to take Turkaglu from his hands.
Hedo Turkaglu, who was supposed to be the “difference maker,” has not panned out. He has never been an explosive player, a great defender, and a great ball handler, but to think he can’t even take over games with excellent shooting has been disappointing. Forget excellent shooting, how about average shooting? Hedo can’t even be relied upon to make open shots at this point.
For $10 million a year, and four years remaining on his contract, Turkaglu is tying up a great deal of the salary cap for the Raptors, which prevents them from signing a player such as Rudy Gay, for example.
Having a great post player in Bosh is great, but it took Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and Shaq an elite wing player(s) around them to win titles. Raptor fans should hope that if Hedo Turaglu is not traded this summer, that maybe re-signing Bosh might not be the best option for this team. A sign-and-trade for a guard, or maybe signing Joe Johnson if possible?
Brian Colangelo has not admitted he has made a mistake with Hedo yet, but he knows what must be done this summer.