- He shot 41% from the field last season; shooting 41% this season
- He shot 36% from three-point last season; shooting 38% this season
- He took 5.4 3s per 40 mins last season; taking 5.1 per 40 mins this season
- Last season, his rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks added up to 12.3 per 40 mins
- This season, his rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks add up to 12.3 per 40 mins
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Ball v.1.25 - Playing the Expectations Game
One day, a one-dimensional player came to Toronto as a high-priced acquistion saddled with big expectations. This player came from one of the best teams in the league, and was riding high following an outstanding playoff performance.
I'm speaking, of course, about Larry Murphy.
Mr. Murphy was an offensive minded defenceman who was traded to the Leafs in 1995 in exchange for young blueliner Dmitri Mironov and a 2nd round pick.
Despite nearly identical production to the year before in Pittsburgh (0.74 points per game in 94-95 compared to 0.79 points per game in 95-96), Murphy was booed mercilessly in Toronto. He was quickly run out of town and was traded to Detroit for future considerations just a year later.
I bring this up for two reasons.
1. I attended the disaster that was the Oklahoma City game. I heard the boos rain down on Hedo Turkoglu, and I heard the (mostly uneducated) hecklers focus their taunts on Toronto's big off-season acquisition.
These fans are booing Turkoglu for the same reason Toronto fans booed Murphy 15 years ago: Totally unrealistic expectations.
I have no idea whether this is a problem unique to Toronto or if it's a problem that afflicts all sports towns. But fans in this city always become totally unrealistic about high-priced talent. Let me try to explain:
If Player A has performed at level X for a number of seasons, and he comes to Toronto at the age of 28 or 30 or 32, let me tell you something... that player isn't getting any better. Level X is the BEST you can hope for for that player, and chances are you will get something much lower than level X.
What is difficult to accept for most of the paying public is that in professional sports, you have to overpay to acquire veteran talent. Free agency ensures this. The public doesn't understand this.
Before I move on to reason #2, let's hammer away at the one key area where I know people disagree with me. "But Turkoglu has been soooooo bad Chris, you've said it yourself!" Ya, but how much different has this season been for Turkoglu compared to last?
I can't emphasize this strongly enough. I know how frustrated Raptor fans are with Hedo Turkoglu, but he's giving you exactly what you saw from him last season. And I know that most of you were happy when he signed on the dotted line.
Which brings me to my 2nd point: After Toronto fans patted themselves on the back for running Larry Murphy out of town, a funny thing happened... he played amazingly well for two Stanley Cup winning teams in Detroit. In fact, check this out, it's my stat of the day (and it's not even basketball... bonus points because I still found a way to incorporate plus/minus)
PLAYOFF PLUS/MINUS - 1997 & 1998
Larry Murphy +28
Nicklas Lidstrom +24
Martin Lapointe +14
Steve Yzerman +13
Brendan Shanahan +13
Igor Larionov +13
(of note: Murphy (26) and Lidstrom (27) had nearly identical point totals as well)
So all of a sudden, outside of the hotbed of Toronto, Larry Murphy suddenly isn't a stiff who can't play hockey. He arguably performs equally with the best defenceman of that era (Lidstrom) in helping the Wings win two Cups.
Remember this when Toronto gives away Turkoglu for 10 cents on the dollar at the 2011 trade deadline.