Can Myles Turner Prove he’s a Building Block?

Myles Turner showed great promise in his first year, but is he ready to contribute to a winning team? 

The Myles Turner expereince has been an interesting one. Coming out of Texas he looked like a kid too skinny, and too unpolished to come in the league. His running style was weird, and he would be too skinny to bang down low with NBA bigs. Not only did Turner play his rookie season, he was a rotation contributor who was relied on immensly for critical parts of the Pacers season. Coming into his Sophomore year, the thought is that he’ll now be fighting for a starting spot, and leading the new era of Pacers basketball to a more sucessful season. But is the 20 year old ready for such a leap?

Who is Myles Turner today? 

Turner’s absolute ceiling is what basktetball fans call the “NBA Unicorn”. The skill-set is a rim-protecting big who can defend on the perimeter, and shoot from range. It’s a skill-set that arguably no other big has ever had. That’s lofty expectations for the 20 year old, and so far Turner is still trying to catch up to the NBA game.

Defensivley, Turner showed most of his promise. His 1.4bpg wastop 20 in the league, and his shot blocking prowess was part of what allowed to the Pacers to maintain a stingy defense. During the season, the Pacers blocked shots percetage rose 2.2%  when Turner was in the game, and in the postseason that number jumped to 8.8% (from 4.7 to 13.5).

As an individual defender, Turner is actually pretty good. Guys shot 2.4% worse against him overall, and inside of 6 feet that number rose to 9.5% worse. However, off-ball, Turner still looks lost when it comes to making rotations, and he sometimes uses his hands too much when switched onto quicker players. His .25 DRPM ranks 58th amongst power forwards, and highlihgts his youthfulness.

Another big area where Turner struggles is the rebounding department. He ranks 33rd in rebouding rate amongst power forwards despite his great height and 7’4 wingspan. The rebounding woes seems to be a two part problem. One, Turner’s lower body strength really hampers his ability to hold his own position, and he’s often thrown out of position easily. This happened a lot in college, and continued into the pros. The second part is his positoning and timing. Turner has a tendency of watching the ball instead of positoning himself. This is a common trait amongst players who struggle to rebound, and it’s an issue that could follow him for his entire career. Here’s how both these problems look against a strong rebounder:

 

On the other side of the ball, Turner’s issue are a bit more profound. For one, his shooting is atrocious. Turner ranks 48th among power forwards in true shooting %, and shoots the three at a horrendous 23.1% despite only taking 0.2 attempts per game. As a roll man, Turner ranked in the 18.2 percentile despite being featured in it at a 27.8% frequency. His 41.7% effective field goal percentage left a lot to be desired, specifically for a big man. Last season, his -3.61 ORPM ranked him 94th out of 95th amongst qulified power forwards. According to Basketball-ref, the Pacers offensive efficeny dropped 5.3 points whenever he was on the court. Turner shot a mediocore 42.7% from mid-range and it made up 68.5% of his shot attempts. The problem was compounded by not being able to hold his own on the boards, and his lack of any other skill offensivley despite finishing at the rim. Turner ranked dead last amongst power forwards in assist rate, and he turned into a black hole whenever he touched the ball. Turner’s assist rate is actually lower than his turnover rate (5.9/9.7), painting a picture of a player who still doesn’t really know what to do with the basketball yet.

What can we expect from Turner this year? 

Larry Bird wants the Pacers to play fast this year, and he’s put together a roster that still leaves a lot to be desired. Shooting and spacing will be an issue for this team, and based on what we’ve seen so far, Turner would compound the problem more than fix it. As a prospect, Turner has shown enough in his one year to suggest that he could be in store for another progressive year. Though he’s still raw offensivley, he’s shown an ability to run the floor and fill lanes correctly.

Turner has also shown promise as a post-up threat, placing in the 53.5 percentile, and scoring .85ppp on those attempts. His high release make him the perfect mis-match to the small-ball 4’s. As his jumper becomes more consistent so will the threat of him as a pick and roll threat. But the Pacers need to patient with him, and give him the room to make the mistakes that are coming. With his elite measureables, just simply working on the fundamentals of the game will be enough to make him a productive player. But to reach the level of a potential building block, Turner will need to show a lot more consistency as an offensive force. As of now the 6’11 Texas product is still more of an idea than an actual young star. Pacers will be wise to bring him along as such.

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