The Indiana Pacers have had a surprisingly successful season based on projections coming into the season. Were it not for injuries to Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo, the team could be contending for the number three seed in the Eastern Conference. Turner was viewed as the future centerpiece after trading away Paul George, but Oladipo has performed well above expectations thus far. They have the skills to develop into one of the best young duos in the league as long as Oladipo remains on his current trajectory, but Turner will have to get back on his. Today, we’re going to look into what made him such a promising prospect and what he needs to fix to achieve his ceiling.
Improve his Rebounding
Turner has always been a bit undersized in terms of weight, which allows him to be pushed around by larger centers. He’s never going to be a guy that averages 12+ a game, but, as long as he and Thaddeus Young are the starting frontcourt, he’ll need to up his numbers to offset the severe disadvantage the team is at. Young’s two highest marks of his career were 9.0 and 7.5, which were aberrations because his career average is only 5.9. After a strong mark of 7.3 last season, many people around the league thought this would be his breakout season, but he has slumped so far and will need to be more aggressive on the boards to help the Pacers with their playoff push.
Increase his Scoring
Turner came into this season poised for a breakout. He was the presumed face of the franchise, with Paul George traded to OKC and no one else set to lead the team to the future, but he has struggled in the scoring department. Despite taking an increased role on the team, he hasn’t increased his shots per game, making a lower percentage of shots and scoring lower than he did last season. Although he has increased his number of three-point attempts per game, his percentage has gotten worse. While some regression was expected, he hasn’t taken on a significant enough load to justify his decline. Turner may not ever become the type of player to average 25 points per game, but the Pacers need him to at least raise his scoring to 18-20 points per game.
Key players play more than 30 minutes per night. Among the top five centers in terms of scoring, none of them play fewer than 30.7 minutes per night. However, Turner is playing fewer than all of them at 29.2 per night. His floor-stretching and switching abilities need to be utilized and he needs to force the coaching staff to give him more playing time. Unfortunately for him, he hasn’t done that to this point in the season. Whether it’s a cardio issue or just matchup based, Turner needs to work to develop into a player that must stay on the floor.
Turner has the tools to be a future star in this league in the mold of players such as Kristaps Porzingis, Marc Gasol and Kevin Love who are the “Unicorns” of the NBA today. All three are regulars at All-Star weekend and stars league-wide. Turner has the tools to be bunched right in with that group, but he has to seize the opportunity and become a Unicorn himself.
If you would like to be notified every time an Indiana Pacers article goes live, feel free to sign up for our email notification program.