Hedo Turkoglu has been anything but a Turkish delight in his first few unofficial appearances in a Phoenix Suns uniform. He wants the ball in his hands, but he has been hesitant to shoot it with only 21 shots in three games. Those few shots have been more likely to land on Frank Sinatra Drive in Palm Springs than in the basket, finding success only four out of those 21 times.
And while Hedo believes the transition to power forward has hurt his game because of all the defense he has to learn (stop snickering!), the Suns are the last team to get caught up in the old tenets of the five positions.
If anything, Turkoglu has left a situation dissimilar to his successful years in Orlando for another situation dissimilar to his successful years in Orlando. He won't be the center of the scoring solar system with the Suns like he was with the Magic (which might be a good thing, considering he can't really play power forward in this solar system, either).
Three games into the preseason, expectations are being re-framed. Power forward is hard. He won't be asked to play much defense, so he can get over that. Even our own Seth Pollack suggested Hedo should be considered a success if he acts as a minutes-muncher to keep Nash and Hill's minutes down during the season. Of course, this means a 31-year-old will be spelling a 36- and 38-year-old, but age ain't nothin' but a number, right? Like 4-for-21.
That's not enough, Suns fans. Amar'e Stoudemire may not have been the fuzziest athlete in town to cuddle up to (and his photo shoot for ESPN The Magazine proved that), but he left a significant hole to fill which Turkoglu couldn't hit with a howitzer right now.
And that's where you come in. You, who uses the word "we" when discussing the Suns. You, who tucked cutouts from Suns programs of Joe Kleine into family photos. You, who think of Robert Sarver as a caretaker owner on your behalf.
It's time for you to pitch in when your team really needs you. This is your opportunity to earn the "we". You will act as the support structure for Hedo Turkoglu as he needs you most.
There are a few simple steps we can all take to contribute to the success of Hedo in Phoenix:
1) Hedo has, howyousayinyourcountry, an affection for the partying. He missed a game with a tickly tummy last season but went out that night on the Toronto town. The CN Tower was harder to spot last season than Hedo out at the club.
Therefore, we all have to convince Hedo that Scottsdale is closed for fumigation for the next nine months. It's standard operating procedure in the Southwest. If he gets suspicious, mention scorpions. Folks new to Phoenix absolutely freak out about scorpions.
2) Take it one step further because he might find out about Mill Avenue. When you see Hedo, ask him why he hasn't moved into Sun City yet. When he looks as you quizzically, explain that all the Suns live in Sun City. Obviously. (And it's not that far from the truth; half the roster qualifies to live there.)
3) Slap that pizza from his hands. It's cool; he's used to turning the ball over, too.
4) Hedo has been known to give truncated post-game interviews. It's not that he doesn't know English; he just stresses about interviews and pretends they're games of Twenty Questions. Ball! Basket! Sager!
To help Turkoglu find his comfort zone faster, help provide him with stock interview responses so he can get back to his salad after the game. Here are a few starter suggestions:
"Steve Nash is our leader."
"I'm really concentrating on defense this season."
"I am the pinochle king of Sun City."
Send your own to US Airways Center or post them in the comments below.
If we all do our part, Hedo Turkoglu will settle in nicely as a third option-slash-contract millstone for a gently sunsetting Phoenix team. If we wait for Hedo to figure it out, he will close out Scottsdale nightly while acting as a third/fourth option-slash-contract millstone for a sinking Suns team.
On second thought, pass the pizza. It's going to be a long season.