As of Saturday night after a heart breaker in Philly, Pacers center Myles Turner disappeared from the world of social media when all both his Twitter and Instagram accounts were de-activated. Why? The big man managed just 3 points on 1-8 shooting, 3 rebounds, and 0 blocks against the NBA’s elitest of elite big men, Joel Embiid who scored 32 points and corralled 11 boards of his own.
To add injury to insult, Indiana had a good chance win this game and didn’t due to two bad plays in less than ten seconds. Click here and scroll to the 8:37 mark in the video to see what I’m talking about. The game winner looked to be designed for Warren in the corner, a play Indiana has used multiple times this season to try and win ball games. It’s worked once to my recalling; in the preseason against Sacramento. Philly played it perfectly. Horford covered Warren in the corner, so Jeremy Lamb had to get a pass in-bounds before a five second call and the best option was right in front of him to Turner who couldn’t get a full grip on it.
The 3 point outing was far from where the concern has started to arise with the 23 year old Indiana center. 4 of Turner’s last 6 contests have ended in him not reaching double figures in points nor rebounds. Myles’ success against elite big men on either side of the ball hasn’t loomed large either. Just last week, he went up against two time reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert for Utah who has a defensive rating this season of 102.8 and a Net Rating of 4.9 That speaks volumes to me about how good this guy is defensively because he is nothing more than a lob catcher on the offensive side of the basketball. That night(Monday), which Indiana won by 19, Turner was limited to 8 points and 4 rebounds, but did total 3 blocks. Last Saturday, Embiid, 38th in the league with a 93.9 Defensive Rating to go with an 11.7 Net Rating, we saw what Turner did.
This isn’t unusual though for Myles to struggle against premiere big men around the league. Notably, last season when Indiana played the likes of Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, and even Al Horford in a four game series, Turner struggled. Against Embiid in four games last season, Turner averaged 7 points and 6 rebounds, while Embiid posted 29 points and 14 boards per contest.
In two games against Towns, Turner averaged 9.5 points and 2 rebounds while KAT tossed up 29.5 points and 16 boards in the two contests.
Against Horford in the playoffs last year, Turner averaged 10 and 6, shooting 40% from the field and 15% from behind the arc.
So, this doesn’t come as any surprise to me that Turner’s struggles have been very clear as of late. But, is there reason to be concerned about Myles Turner play on the court or even his de-activated accounts. Let us be reminded, Turner was one of the first to come to Team USA’s defense when they lost in consecutive games to France and Serbia in this summer’s FIBA World Cup via twitter.
Apparently he’s had enough though. Maybe this is his way of trying to lock in and break out of this funk. Turner is 31.1 minutes per night, his highest since the 2016-2017 season, but shooting a career low from the field(45%) and from the free throw line(67%). His three ball percentage is up at 42 and his offensive rating is as high as it’s been in 3 seasons. At 108.3, Turner sits with the likes of teammate TJ Warren, Jrue Holiday, Jaylen Brown, Mike Conley and Tobias Harris in that category, but his usage rate enters a territory that might not sit too well with the big man. He’s only being used in 17.1% of the offense, down with the likes of Kent Bazemore, Marquese Chriss, Shabazz Napier, and teammates Doug McDermott and TJ Leaf.
That’s where I become frustrated. You give a guy $20 million for the next 4 seasons to have him being used in such a minuscule fashion? Turner has shown signs of progress offensively. His outside game has evolved the most in his five years employed by the Pacers. I wanted to see him post up more. He’s 6’11. That’s what he’s supposed to do, but since Domantas Sabonis has come around, they don’t need Myles posting up as much. Domas takes a majority of those possessions into his hands. He can handle the beating down low. Turner likes to live on the outside, which is fine and quite frankly, that’s how this league is evolving.
What raises a red light to me is Turner’s defense outside of shot blocking. Turner’s 2.5 blocks per game are near the top of the league when he officially becomes qualified. He isn’t yet due to the near month he missed with an ankle sprain. Turner enters Monday with a defensive rating of 105.4, his highest since the ’16-’17 season. To put that in perspective, James Harden, the guy who has been the poster child of ‘Team No Defense’ the last handful of years has a lower defensive rating than Turner at 104.8.
Everyone asking about Domantas Sabonis? 103.7 rating defensively. I’ve seen it all twitter the last few days. People are asking why we blame Turner so much and are hesitant to blame Sabonis. It’s hard for me to put much blame on a guy who’s averaging 18.5 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists on 51% field goals and shooting 80% from the free throw line. I find it hard to really to place the blame on a guy who has gotten better every season he’s been in the league and he’s 23 years old.
That’s just me though. So, for the people still using the three year old excuse of Myles not being in his prime yet and that he’s only 23 years old, I’m tired of hearing it. Players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Donovan Mitchell, Jusuf Nurkic, and Sabonis are all late lottery picks and around the same age as Turner who have made big strides each year they’ve been in the league.
Is this just the Myles Turner that we have to get used to? 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks a night? Is that good enough for Pacers fans for a 6’11 big man? Or is there more to come?