Who’s Better: Hedo Turkoglu or Rashard Lewis?

By: 09.22.09  •  60 Comments
Hedo in T-Dot

Hedo in T-Dot

We argue. You decide.

If I’m honest, I’m not a big fan of either Hedo or Rashard. In my humble opinion, I think they are both a bit overpaid, overrated, and over-hyped. However, when comparing the two in order to determine who is better, my money is undoubtedly on Hedo.

During the playoff run for the Magic last year, he was the glue that ultimately held the team together. Rashard would show up for one game, then be completely absent the next. Dwight Howard was getting double and triple-teamed in the post, Jameer Nelson was hurt, and the rest of the team was inconsistent at best. This was a time when we really were able to see how versatile of a player Hedo is, and his overall worth to a team. Hence, a subsequent $53 million dollar deal to Toronto…

Hedo’s career averages aren’t anything to write home about. But, then again, neither are Rashard’s. Hedo boasts averages of about 12 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists per game, while Rashard is good for about 17 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists each night. Rashard is probably better statistically (and will continue to be), but in this instance, the better player is determined by versatility rather than sheer numbers.

Hedo’s ultimate value and worth lie in his ability to play multiple positions on the floor and be just as effective at each. Quite simply, he has a “basketball” mind; he knows when to take over, when to slow things down, get his teammates involved, or just make the right play. Averaging about five assists in the last two seasons for the Magic, it’s clear Hedo has grown as a player and is becoming more complete.

Rashard, however, is going the other way. His scoring average decreased the last two seasons, along with his FG%, 3pt%, FT%, steals, and he’s seen an increase in the number of times he turns the ball over. Rashard is solely looked at to score the ball and shoot well from the perimeter. While there’s nothing wrong with that, Hedo can clearly do much more on the basketball court to enhance his team.

The matchup problems he creates for opposing teams are almost unrivaled. His increased ability to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket has defenders unable to play too close to him to prevent his shot. When he does drive, he has a unique quickness and vision of the court for a man of his size (6-10) and can find other stagnant players (cough…Rashard…cough) for easy buckets.

Ultimately, what seals the deal for me in regards to Hedo, was Stan Van Gundy‘s reliance on him in the closing seconds of games (i.e. the ’08/09 playoffs) as opposed to Rashard. Hedo used a myriad of ways to beat defenders to get that last shot off, while Rashard was left standing in the corner, waiting for someone else to make something happen so he could shoot.

Hedo all the way.

Raw Lew

Raw Lew

RASHARD LEWIS (by A. Burton)
…Written under the influence of Janet Jackson’s “Got ‘Til it’s Gone”…

As a Sonics fan, I never fully appreciated Rashard Lewis when he was in Seattle. For a guy standing 6-10, built slender yet cut-up like a light heavyweight, he played a little too soft for me. He loitered around the three-point line more than I thought he should have, was never too enthusiastic about defense or rebounding, and generally put the “small” in small forward. Sure, Raw Lew had a 50-point game here and an All-Star selection there, and he ultimately left Seattle as the franchise’s fourth all-time leading scorer and Top-10 in almost every other major stat category (No. 1 in threes), but he was never totally embraced by the fan base. So when he left for Orlando in ’07 — overpaid in the eyes of most — Seattle wasn’t crying over it; especially because we had Kevin Durant (the updated version of the skinny teenager we once had in Rashard) coming in to take his place.

Since then, I’ve realized what we had in Rashard. You only need one hand to count the number of players 6-10 and up who can shoot the rock better than Rashard (and Hedo Turkoglu isn’t on that list). He led the NBA in threes last season with 220, and finished third the season before that. And while he might not do it as much as you’d like, he can effectively create his own shot off the dribble and score in the post. In Orlando’s run to the Finals, Lewis consistently delivered in crunch time, hitting rally buckets, game-winners and daggers throughout the playoffs.

Rashard has flaws, most visibly on defense and in the fact that he’s not a go-to player. He also shoots too many threes. He’s not the one to initiate an offense like Turkoglu, but will round that offense out into a lethal force with his ability to score from outside, mid-range and in the paint. He’s a specialist – a professional scorer and shooter.

At 30 years old — a seemingly young 30 compared to Hedo’s old 30 — Rashard is coming off his most complete and accomplished pro season, and he doesn’t show signs of slowing down. He averaged 17.7 points and 5.7 boards while hitting 39 percent of his threes and 83 percent at the line – numbers he then improved in the playoffs, putting up 19 points and 6.4 rebounds and outperforming Turkoglu as a scorer, shooter and rebounder. Several teams have a small forward who can run the offense; fewer have a power forward who can stretch defenses and create mismatches like Rashard, who has been the X-factor in Orlando’s success since his arrival.

After all, there’s a reason Eastern Conference coaches chose Rashard for the ’09 All-Star Game, while Hedo was left at home.

Who do you think was better?

Follow Ben York on Twitter: @bjyork
Follow Austin Burton on Twitter: @AustinatDIMEmag
Follow DIME on Twitter: @DIMEMag

“Who’s better?” archives
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8/19 — Andre Iguodala vs. Rudy Gay
8/14 — Ray Allen vs. Michael Redd
8/12 — Steve Nash vs. Jason Kidd
3/3 — David West vs. LaMarcus Aldridge
2/26 — Kevin Durant vs. Danny Granger
2/19 — Paul Millsap vs. David Lee
2/17 — Caron Butler vs. Tayshaun Prince
12/24 — Marcus Camby vs. Andrew Bynum
12/19 — Deron Williams vs. Chauncey Billups
12/17 — Manu Ginobili vs. Tracy McGrady
12/12 — Amare Stoudemire vs. Al Jefferson
12/10 — Dirk Nowitzki vs. Chris Bosh
12/9 — Derrick Rose vs. O.J. Mayo
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12/5 — Kevin Martin vs. Vince Carter
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