This one may be a tough pill to swallow for some Magic fans, but Justin Harper should be Orlando's starting small forward next year—not Hedo Turkoglu.
The Orlando Magic made a bit of a splash in the 2011 NBA draft by trading up to acquire Richmond's Justin Harper—who is an upgrade at the small forward position for the Orlando Magic not in the future, but right now.
As crazy as it may seem, it's reality.
Of all the bad moves Otis Smith has made over the past year, I truly believe attaining Justin Harper was a great one.
He was one of my favorite prospects coming into the draft for the Magic because of the way he fits into Stan Van Gundy's system, and when it was announced the Magic traded for him—I couldn't have been more excited.
The Magic MUST get Harper into game action from day one. Stats don't lie, and Hedo Turkoglu just isn't that good. Any fan that thinks differently is living in the past.
One of the biggest complaints Dwight Howard has had about the Magic is he wants to play around 14 guys that want to win a championship, and Turkoglu is one of the guys Dwight is indirectly calling out.
It all starts with effort, and I'll put my money on the 21-year-old fighting to make a name for himself against the overpaid, 32-year-old, declining NBA player any day of the week.
Harper has the physical ability and skill set to be a difference-maker for the Magic next year, it's up to Van Gundy to make the call.
No, it's not ideal to pay a player $11 million to come off the bench, but when your stuck with some of the worst contracts in the NBA, you have to make due.
Turkoglu could provide some offense off the bench in a more limited role where the ball is not constantly going through his hands. The Magic get themselves in the most trouble when Hedo stands with the ball at the top of the key and wastes precious seconds off the shot and game clock, only to hurl up a low-percentage shot.
This is a move that Stan Van Gundy will be beyond reluctant to try, but if he wants to keep his job his rotations have to change as a whole; bringing Turkoglu off the bench is a good start.
Defense is by no means Justin Harper's strong suit, but it's not like Hedo Turkoglu is a defensive specialist.
At 6'10'' 230 pounds, Harper has the same kind of size as Turkoglu; he's just a younger, more athletic player.
Stan Van Gundy's defensive system is always tough for rookies to get the hang of, but a senior coming into the NBA is not your regular rookie; they're NBA-ready—Courtney Lee anyone?
We have seen what happens when the Magic match Turkoglu up against any kind of scorer—he gets lit up. Not just lit up, but he is an actual liability. Remember when LeBron James scored 23 points in the first quarter against Hedo back in February?
Not saying Harper is going to come in and shut opposing players down, but I do know his athletic ability alone makes him a better option than Hedo.
Hard to fathom, right?
Justin Harper—a rookie from Richmond—is an upgrade over a 32-year-old veteran who is set to make $11 million next year?
As good as Hedo Turkoglu's 10 points, four rebounds and four assists per game were last season—yes, I do think Justin Harper can put up better overall numbers.
You might expect a veteran player like Turkoglu to at least have the courtesy to up his effort level in the playoffs—but his 23 percent shooting from the three-point line and 15 total rebounds in a five-game series while at times appearing uninterested in the game prove otherwise.
Harper was said by many NBA scouts to be the best shooting big man in the 2011 NBA draft, and if you haven't seen him shoot for yourself, take a look at this.
Harper shot nearly 45 percent from three-point range during his senior year, up nearly 10 percent from his junior season.
His shooting will continue to get better with Dwight Howard forcing defenses to double down on him in the low post, which should create Rashard Lewis-type open shots in the corner for Harper.
I see Harper easily averaging around 16 points per game if Stan Van Gundy gives him the amount of minutes he deserves to get during the 2011-2012 season.
The Orlando Magic desperately need a spark.
With Dwight Howard's inevitable free agency approaching, the Magic must win now.
If Turkoglu has proven one thing for the Orlando Magic, it's that he's not going to get them over the hump. When the Magic made their Finals run three years ago, Turk played some good basketball, but that was as far as he would or ever will bring the Orlando Magic.
Hedo completely disappeared in the 2011 playoffs against Atlanta, even appearing uninterested at times. Turkoglu shot a dismal 23 percent from behind the arc against Atlanta, and only had 15 rebounds in five games—yes, that's right: Despite being a 6'10'' small forward, he averaged a pathetic three rebounds per contest.
The Orlando Magic know their future ceiling with Hedo Turkoglu and it's getting lower and lower.