THERE WAS a time (read: 2000 to '03) when Hedo Turkoglu was little more than that other foreign guy on the Kings with Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic. But after last season it's fair to say that the Turkish small forward is no longer an afterthought. While quarterbacking the Magic's run to the Finals last season, Turkoglu, 30, established himself as an all-around threat (averages of 15.8 points, 4.8 assists and 4.5 boards in the postseason) who was particularly cold-blooded in the clutch. This was why Raptors G.M. Bryan Colangelo made him the prize of an aggressive off-season that put Supermarket Sweep to shame, acquiring Turkoglu in a four-way trade and then signing him to a five-year, $53 million deal. In all, the Raptors come into the season with 10 new faces.
"Standing pat was not an option," Colangelo says of his 10 newcomers. "And yes, this is an important year for many reasons." The biggest: Chris Bosh, who is among those famously eligible for free agency in 2010. Colangelo consulted closely with the 25-year-old power forward as the roster was remade. "Me and B.C. have a pretty good relationship," Bosh says. "He ran things by me, whether I was comfortable with them. This year there were a lot of good ideas." Besides Turkoglu, the Raptors signed Bosh's old point guard at Georgia Tech, Jarrett Jack, to a four-year, $20 million deal; re-signed center Andrea Bargnani to a five-year, $50 million contract; and traded for power forward Reggie Evans to add much-needed toughness.
Toronto's restocked cupboard hasn't taken the suspense out of what Bosh will do in the next off-season—he says that he "can't put all my eggs in one basket"—but he duly appreciates the effort. So does Evans, who was a Sixer last season when Turkoglu drilled a last-second three to win Game 5 of Philly's opening-round series with Orlando. Now, says Evans, "when Hedo does that again, it's going to feel real good."
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE with 2008--09 statistics
October 25, 2009
|PG||JOSÉ CALDERON||PPG: 12.8||APG: 8.9||RPG: 2.9||SPG: 1.09||FG%: 49.7|
|SG||DEMAR DEROZAN (R)||PPG: 13.9||APG: 1.5||RPG: 5.7||FG%: 52.3||3FG%: 16.7|
|SF||HEDO TURKOGLU||PPG: 16.8||RPG: 5.3||APG: 4.9||FG%: 41.3||3FG%: 35.6|
|PF||CHRIS BOSH||PPG: 22.7||RPG: 10.0||APG: 2.5||BPG: 1.00||FG%: 48.7|
|C||ANDREA BARGNANI||PPG: 15.4||RPG: 5.3||BPG: 1.24||FG%: 45.0||3FG%: 40.9|
KEY BENCH PLAYERS: G Jarrett Jack, 13.1 PPG; G-F Marco Belinelli, 8.9 PPG; G-F Antoine Wright, 7.3 PPG; F Amir Johnson, 0.97 BPG • New acquisition • (R) Rookie, college stats
COACH: Jay Triano (second season with Raptors) • 2008--09 RECORD: 33--49 (fourth in Atlantic)
POINTS SCORED: 99.0 (16th in NBA) • POINTS ALLOWED: 101.9 (20th in NBA)
League-best assist-to-turnover ratio last season for José Calderon, the first repeat leader since Muggsy Bogues (1993--94 and '94--95). Since Calderon entered the NBA in 2005--06, his ratio of 4.08 is also the best.
ENEMY LINES | A RIVAL SCOUT ON THE RAPTORS
Chris Bosh built himself up over the summer; he's become a much better post player in recent years; and he's tougher defensively. Now it's time for him to go to the next step and be a true leader and get them into the playoffs.... Hedo Turkoglu has developed a mentality that he really expects to score. He's a strong clutch player—you can run plays for him at the end of the game, and he'll find a way to get it done. Now, the bad thing about him is that he cannot defend a chair.... At the end of last season they said to Andrea Bargnani, We're going to go with you, screw up or not you'll play; then he began to play with a lot more confidence. I trust Bargnani as a shooter—if it's not a highly contested shot, I feel like it's going to go in.... José Calderon is a very, very good passer and a decent shooter. He comes across like he's trying to be a tough guy, but down the stretch he's not as tough as he acts, and he can be taken out of the play.... I'm high on rookie DeMar DeRozan out of USC. He's not a great shooter, but they already have Turkoglu and Bargnani, so it's good to have a slashing, hard-nosed guy, a competitor with a well-built NBA body who will back down to no one.