Hakim Warrick should be the Phoenix Suns' starting power forward, not Hedo Turkoglu

All of the dollar signs, egos and overall skills validate Hedo Turkoglu starting for the Phoenix Suns.

The 6-foot-10 multi-skilled forward will make more this season than every Suns player not named Steve Nash or Jason Richardson — $10,215,850 million.

Turkoglu also started 301 of his last 305 games, and didn’t exactly do an admirable job handling a decreased role in Toronto last season. As far as basketball goes, Turkoglu is arguably Phoenix’s most talented player on the roster behind Nash.

But despite the dollar signs, his history as a starter and his overall talent, Hakim Warrick, not Turkoglu, should be starting at power forward for the Phoenix Suns this season.

Through the preseason it’s become clear that when Turkoglu’s on the court with Nash he’s nothing more than a standstill shooter, which isn’t how Hedo’s made his living in the NBA.

He thrives with the ball in his hands making plays for himself and for others, rather than standing on the three-point arc waiting for the ball. But he’s looked lazy with the starters in the preseason, averaging 5.1 points per game and 31.1 percent shooting in 20.1 minutes while simply going through the motions.

Warrick, on the other hand, impressed with 9.7 points per game on 47.7 percent shooting in only 18.9 minutes. He’s the perfect complement to Nash as well as Robin Lopez. He moves without the ball, is great in the pick and roll and can hit the 15-footer to combat Lopez’s low post presence.

“I think Warrick to me has a pretty good feel for what we want from him as an elbow player and screen-and-roll player,” head coach Alvin Gentry said.

The Suns need a pick-and-roll presence to be successful; otherwise the offense becomes Nash probing and four guys watching. Warrick can offer that pick-and-roll prowess, as he’s explosive to the rim and has been dubbed a poor man’s Amare Stoudemire.

Below is an example of Warrick’s ability to finish at the rim out of the pick and roll — something Turkoglu clearly is incapable of doing.

That’s an extremely athletic dive and finish that is essential in the Suns’ pick and roll. Warrick fits with the starting group perfectly.

He isn’t a good defender or rebounder by any means, but at least he’s accustomed to rebounding and playing defense out of the four spot. He also has the potential to improve upon those facets of his game with more minutes, as he’s never played big minutes with an uptempo team, which fits his style best.

Although he is no Amare, he definitely offers more of a back to the basket presence than Turkoglu. He’s always been somewhat of a tweener, but as you can see in the clip below, he isn’t all that uncomfortable out of the post. He misses the easy layup, but showed some type of value on the block.

With Turkoglu getting the night off Friday against the Nuggerts, Warrick got the nod but was underwhelming with nine points on 2-for-8 shooting. But he is still a better fit with the starters, while Turkoglu’s skills would fit best on the second unit.

He could be the primary playmaker, as Goran Dragic is capable of playing both the point guard and shooting guard position. Turkoglu can have the ball in his hands as much as he wants, and has a plethora of three-point shooters to kick to — Jared Dudley, Channing Frye and even Dragic — and a slasher to look for — Josh Childress.

If you thought the Suns’ bench was one of the best in the NBA as it stands now, just imagine how much better it would get with Turkoglu. He gives them a leader, a facilitator as well as another three-point shooter with Dragic handling the ball.

This doesn’t mean that Turkoglu would never play with Nash, as he would probably be asked to finish almost every game. But starting him out with the second unit makes the most sense for both the bench and the starters.

Head coach Alvin Gentry may fear ruffling the feathers of a guy who hasn’t been all that warm to coming off the bench before. But starting in Phoenix doesn’t mean as much as it does on other squads, just ask Leandro Barbosa.

If the Suns leave Turkoglu in the starting lineup his skills aren’t going to be utilized to the fullest. Phoenix will be dealing with Hedo Toronto version 2.0, and Lon Babby and Robert Sarver will be banging their heads against the wall for committing about $40 million to the 31-year-old.

Tags: Hakim Warrick Hedo Turkoglu

  • http://morgamic.com/ morgamic

    Agree. The other thing to note is that you have enough 3pt shooting between Frye, JRich and Nash in the starting 5. I’d trade movement, rebounding and defense for Hedo. Good analysis, Mike.

  • http://facebook.com tavzilla

    i wouldnt mind hedo facilitating and nash spotting up i think thats what they need to do nash spotting up no one in the NBA is gonna want nash spotting up also it will save his aging legs

  • JC

    I agree with this article 100%. Hedo could best be used as a point forward for the second unit. Everyone in the second unit would have 3 point range (Dragic, Childress, Dudley, Turkoglu, and Frye) Turk could still be used at the 4 and could become the one and only Point Power Forward in the league. The second unit could stand behind the 3 point arc and which would force the opposing bigs out the paint and then Turk could hand the ball over to either Dragic or Childress for an easier drive to the basket. I certainly don’t want to watch a Toronto Turk 2.0 so using him as a reserve 4 is the best bet.

  • DBreezy

    It’s been a rough preseason despite the calls for everyone to keep a stiff chin, but this seems like something from the ‘do something, do anything’ camp at this point. Warrick hasn’t surprised, he’s performed to his career level on both ends of the court. Let’s not forget that the Suns were so comfortable with Warrick as the starter that they elected to move LB for a high dollar multi-year risky contract vs. the offers out there for guys like Rasheed and Delonte West that would have offered financial relief. Warrick isn’t the answer starting here anymore than he has been elsewhere.

    The elephant in the room is that Hedo simply looks like he doesn’t have it anymore which is the elephant in the room. The guy isn’t complaining about his role or showing bad body language, in fact he’s been putting in extra work. If you youtube his highlights, you get a lot of stuff from 07-08 and it’s nothing like the player we’re seeing. While you never miss on youtube, I sure see a lot of spot up jumpers from Hedo on those clips. And when he isn’t spotting up, he’s fluidly putting the ball on the floor for layups or Kiki-jumpers. There’s nothing but wide open space out there for the Suns, and he’s free to do those things he just can’t do so consistently anymore so he shoots spot up jumpers. He’s gotta get in better shape or his game isn’t working with the starters or reserves.

    Perhaps he can fool a young reserve defender or two, but overall if he can’t do those old moves, he’s not creating anymore on the 2nd unit than he is with the starters. He’s just taking the ball out of Dragic’s hands. At least with the starters he provides the theoretical threat of being a shooter and he still rebounds and defends better than Warrick.

  • HankS

    I’m on the record for pushing Warrick as a starter over Turkoglu sometime back in July, before either arrived to Phoenix and before Turkoglu started looking like a total disaster. So I agree and feel smart… But if the preseason suggests anything, there’ll be deals coming, or we’re in for a long season crowned with a little lottery excitement… :-(

  • pmitch

    The most athletic and probably the best player on the team is Jason Richardson. Other than that, I agree that Turkoglu is a complete bust. This team with the presence of Amare would have been a legit contender for a title. As it presently is composed, it will NOT make the playoffs.
    Looks like a loooong season for the Suns and their fans. The current management needs to make some changes. Sticking a good coach like Alvin Gentry with this group of players is just SICK. There is little chance that the first team will jell with Turkoglu in the mix.
    The Suns have little perimeter defense and almost no ability to stop pentration by the opposing guards. This translates into easy opportunities under the basket.
    No need to mention the lack of rebounding or a legit power forward. Neither Turkoglu or Warrick is the answer. How can the team win with all these problems?
    The management gave up the best power forward in the league. How does that translate into a positive?

  • Ryan

    I agree with this article, Hakim would be much better to start at the 4. Alvin can play the bench almost as equally to the starters time with Hedo in the second unit, at least for nash and hill to save their legs for the play offs.

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  • http://wearesuns.com Matt Petersen

    Pretty expensive sub. Isn’t this just admitting the Suns made a mistake investing in him ’till 2014?

  • john marzan

    hedo can be a starter for the suns, but not this year.

    Maybe next year when Hill retires.

    But if Hill doesnt retire and still wants to play for phx, then hedo and grant should have a gentleman’s agreement that hill will not contest the starting spot next year if he returns to the suns.

  • john marzan

    “Pretty expensive sub. Isn’t this just admitting the Suns made a mistake investing in him ’till 2014?”

    Manu Ginobili’s even better.

  • Freddy

    But he’s looked lazy with the starters in the preseason, averaging 5.1 points per game and 31.1 percent shooting in 20.1 minutes while simply going through the motions.

    ^^ Couldn’t agree more with that statement. The minutes I have seen from him show a player who doesn’t hustle or seems to even want to be there.

    Warrick on the other hand was a good pick up IMO.

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  • KJ Loyalist

    Once the team roster is set, money doesn’t matter. The best fit does because that gives you the best shot to win.

    Seriously, what is the problem with Hedo coming off the bench if it translates into the second unit murdering people? He can still earn that cash.

    I don’t care who starts as long as the team wins. People diss Warrick’s potential but if he does start beside Nash, his numbers should skyrocket.

  • Raps Fan

    Not exactly shocked that Hedo is wearing out his welcome in Phoenix just as quickly as he did in Toronto. Or that he’s playing extremely poorly and showing a poor effort. That’s what he does. That’s what he will continue to do. Whatever he did in Orlando, that’s gone, and the player left is an overpaid, worthless scrub.

    We gladly would have given him away for nothing; getting Barbosa, an actual functional basketball player back, is nothing but gravy. I understand that LB similiarly wore out his welcome in Phoenix (?); but compared to Hedo, he’s Micheal Freaking Jordan.

  • Mike Meez

    ^Raps fans still soooo bitter about Hedo haha. Barbosa didn’t wear out his welcome, he just became disposable with Richardson and the development of Dragic.

    First off, no one on Phoenix is going to look particularly good for at least the first month of the season. It’s a completely new team that needs time to gel.

    But I agree with the article completely, something I was saying over the summer as well. The only obstacle would be Hedo throwing a tantrum for coming off the bench like he did in Toronto. Big difference though is that the Suns are actually a good team with professional basketball players so coming off the bench isn’t a slap in the face like it was in Toronto (no offense Raps fan).

  • chris

    ok thats not wat the suns should do, i know this sounds bad to all suns fan but get rid of hill or bench him, making ur lineup 1. nash 2. richardson 3. turkoglu 4. warrick 5. lopez, this would help the most since warrick and turkoglu could work just like when turkoglu was in the magic with lewis

  • http://twitter.com/auggie5000 Auggie

    Let Turk play! I mean wtf the season hasn’t even started and planet orange is already panicked. Have some confidence that Gentry knows what he is doing since he is the coach of this team, and at the start of last season all the same people were similarly panicked, but he did his job and we went to the WCF.
    I wasn’t panicked because I knew we would be solid. The same principle applies here. Turkoglu will find his niche as a 4th quarter player (which we have needed for 15 years or so and didn’t really have last year). That is what we need him for and it is exactly why he was acquired. His value wont be seen until January.
    Until then, just root on the team you love!

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