Turkoglu will define Raps

At 30, Hedo Turkoglu is in his prime, primed for one of those off-the-chart seasons. (Sun...

At 30, Hedo Turkoglu is in his prime, primed for one of those off-the-chart seasons. (Sun Media/Jack Boland)

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:49 AM ET

As the NBA's dog days of summer continue with teams making minor moves to address minor needs, the Raptors find themselves in a holding pattern.

The team, essentially, is in place, even though one roster spot remains.

A jump-shooting team such as the Raptors can always use a rebounder and defender, but then again which team, regardless of its skill set, can't.

Last week, Hedo Turkoglu told a Turkish publication that his stated goal for the coming season was to make the all-star team.

It's a noble objective, but Turkoglu must aim higher.

If you're a fan of the Raptors, you're hoping he does.

When you look at the composition of the team, Turkoglu is by far the Raptors’ most accomplished player.

This is the time of the off-season when teams begin to look forward to the beginning of training camps, making mental notes of the kind of offensive sets they’d like to run.

For the Raptors to excel, it is up to the team to make sure that the ball ends up in Turkoglu's hands when it crosses mid-court.

For the Raptors to compete for home-court advantage in the post-season, it would be wise that every decision is made by Turkoglu.

Making the playoffs for this team is simply not good enough because GM Bryan Colangelo has done too good of a job of revamping his roster and revitalizing the franchise.

Jay Triano's coaching ability will be scrutinized and Marc Iavaroni's presence as an assistant will be realized.

The key, though, is Turkoglu and make no mistake about it.

It is not Chris Bosh. Nor is it Andrea Bargnani or the Raptors' revamped bench that has the look of a unit that won't be overmatched when given minutes.

Potentially, Turkoglu can evolve into a MVP-type candidate.

But it all hinges on how the Raptors use him.

This season should not be about getting Bosh touches or appeasing the team's "franchise player" for fear of losing him.

This season should not be about having Bargnani settle for perimeter jump shots.

This season should be about managing Turkoglu's minutes and making sure he is the first option in crunch time.

If Bosh were to get hurt, Bargnani, who will begin the year at centre, can easily move over to his position at power forward.

If Jose Calderon were to get hurt and continue to get exposed defensively, there's Jarrett Jack.

Colangelo has given Triano pieces to play with and options that weren't available last season.

However, there is no replacement for Turkoglu, who is the team's most indispensable and, in theory, its most valuable player.

It's not asking a lot from Turkoglu, who averaged 18.0 points and 49% shooting from the field in Orlando's five-game loss to the Lakers in the NBA final.

At 6-foot-10, Turkoglu can see over smaller defenders and basically get whatever shot off he wants or defer.

His ability to put the ball on the floor means Turkoglu has that added ability to beat defenders off the bounce and attack the rim.

At 30, Turkoglu is in his basketball prime, primed for one of those off-the-chart seasons.

Bosh has played in all-star games and won an Olympic gold.

Big deal.

But how many times has Bosh won a game for the Raptors that actually meant something?

Reputations are made in the post-season and in the two playoff series featuring Bosh, he and Calderon failed miserably in losses to New Jersey and Orlando, each time when the Raptors tried to execute a high screen and roll.

There must be an admission by the Raptors that Turkoglu, at this stage in his career, is better than Bosh, who still can't defend his position, who still has difficulties passing out of double teams and who still can't create his own shot down the stretch.

Turkoglu must be the man and not Bosh.

That is why being an all-star simply won't suffice.


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