Vince Carter or Hedo Turkoglu? Which Player Fits the Orlando Magic Best?
When the Orlando Magic decided to part ways with Hedo Turkoglu and acquire Vince Carter to replace him, there were many ensuing debates that questioned the logic of the move, considering the circumstances.
The Magic fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals of 2009, but their valiant effort suggested that a return trip in 2010 was a definite possibility, even without the benefit of a roster move.
When Turkoglu was released many felt the Magic lost an advantage that was highlighted in Orlando's victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals.
Turkoglu teamed with Rashard Lewis to give the Magic two perimeter players who were 6'9" or taller, and this created defensive nightmares for the Cavaliers, who had no one who could defend Orlando's length on the perimeter.
The advantage was increased late in games because Turkoglu often became the team's primary ball-handler, and when the Magic needed to score out of their half-court set, it was Turkoglu who directed the offense.
Carter doesn't present the same matchup problems that Turkoglu did, but there are areas where Carter excel over Hedo, the most obvious being athleticism and defense.
Turkoglu has been notorious for poor defense for the majority of his career, and while Carter's defense is sometimes inconsistent, he does have the ability to be a superior defender when motivated.
Carter's athleticism also gives the Magic an edge that was missing with Turkoglu, and when Carter is on the court with Dwight Howard, Orlando can arguably claim the most athletic combination on the floor.
If Carter was a little more consistent and had not fallen victim to knee injuries earlier in his career, the conversation would be moot, because Carter had the potential to be one of the game's greatest players.
The latter part of Carter's career has been defined by a transition to a perimeter-based player who relies heavily on his three-point shot, but he has been a good match for Orlando.
The Magic didn't miss a step in the regular season, and their performance in the postseason has been nothing short of extraordinary as Orlando has yet to surrender a contest.
Much of that success is due to point guard Jameer Nelson, who played injured during last season's NBA Finals and has so far proven to be unguardable while healthy in this postseason.
Nelson's health was the major reason Turkoglu assumed the ball-handling duties last season, and Carter is not needed in that respect since Nelson has played so well.
Additionally, the Magic were able to add other players in the offseason who have contributed, such as Jason Williams and Matt Barnes, and players like J.J. Redick and Mickael Pietrus have elevated their games.
I was recently criticized when I suggested Orlando could suffer from the absence of Turkoglu's ball handling late in games, and I stand by that theory, but that doesn't mean Carter is not a better fit for the team.
Carter is a better overall talent than Turkoglu, and even though the latter held some advantages, Carter is ultimately a better fit for the team, especially when he is consistent.
Bill Simmons of ESPN said there was no team in the league that could defeat the Magic in the postseason if Carter played with focus for four games. That statement is revealing because Carter has yet to accomplish that feat and still Orlando has yet to lose.
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