Report Card: Ronny Turiaf
There is no question that over the last two seasons, the Lakers have enjoyed an unbelievable bargain in Ronny Turiaf. This year, at barely over $770K, Turiaf gave the Lakers over 18 minutes a night, and career highs in points (6.6), rebounds (3.9), blocks (1.4), assists (1.6), and free-throw percentage (75.3). All that, plus epic sideline dances and other displays of his seemingly boundless energy and enthusiasm for the game and his teammates.
The days of supreme value, however, are over. If the Lakers are to keep Turiaf, they'll have to pony up. How much, I'm not sure. L.A. can match any offer, but given the rarefied air Dr. Buss is breathing these days, well above the luxury tax, if another team makes a big offer, Ronny could very well be in another uniform next year. I've never been good at predicting what a player might get on the open market, so I won't try. Still, now that there's a business decision to be made about Turiaf's future in L.A., it's time to get to the business of figuring out what exactly Turiaf brings, putting aside for a minute how much everyone likes the guy. (As well they should. If you don't dig Ronny-the-person, the problem is you, not him.)
Ronny wasn't a perfect player this year, and in increased minutes we saw some of his flaws come out as well. He is, for example, not a particularly good finisher around the basket, and his offensive game is centered more around extending the floor and taking the mid-range jumper- a weapon he used with far more frequency this season, helping to explain the drop in his FG% from the season previous- than it is moves in the post. He is also, despite his impressive block numbers, still pretty foul prone inside. There were moments this season when the biggest obstacle for him to overcome was himself. 2.55 PFs a night, translating to 6.5 per 48, highest on the team among anyone who played real minutes.
On the other hand, it's vitally important to remember that Turiaf spent most of the year playing out of position at center, where he is generally overmatched physically. Given the chance to play more PF, his lack of an NBA quality post game is less of an issue, and defensively his responsibilities change. And while the lasting memory of Ronny this season might be his shortened minutes during the playoffs, especially in the Finals where he wasn't all that effective, a quick check of his game log is a reminder of how many times he stepped up and played big minutes for the Lakers.
Some of it was out of necessity, because of injuries and trades- as Ronny himself admitted in his exit interview, often PJ had literally nobody else to play. That doesn't mean the time he spent on the court was a detriment, though. In 21 games as a starter, Ronny contributed 10.5/5.2/2.6/1.9, shooting over 50% from the floor. Not bad for a role player, especially one often pressed into playing out of position.
If you're a Hollinger guy, his PER was over 15, higher than Sasha, Fish, Vlad Rad, and Luke Walton.
Given his role on the team, there's no question that Ronny performed admirably this year. He filled cracks in the lineup to the best of his ability, and again showed himself to be much more than simply an "energy guy," a pigeon holing tag he dislikes. He's not necessarily a game changer, and I'm still not convinced he's a starting caliber player in the league, but there's no question he was an important part of what the Lakers accomplished this season, doing everything expected of him, plus a few things that weren't.
Whether that's a luxury they'll be able to afford next season is something we'll have to wait and see.