Myles Turner playing the post a question of want, not skill

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 3: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers and Myles Turner #33 of the Indiana Pacers await the ball on November 3, 2017 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 3: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers and Myles Turner #33 of the Indiana Pacers await the ball on November 3, 2017 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Pacers center Myles Turner committed to building his body into being more post-play friendly, but his mind needs to make the transformation as well.

The Indiana Pacers want Myles Turner to be a better rebounder this season and a better player in the post. Despite having the height of a center, Turner’s been unwilling so far to commit to playing there.

This summer he prepared his body for it by bulking up with muscle and loosening up with yoga. It’s a piece of the puzzle if Turner wants to add post play to his repertoire, but statistically speaking, he already has the skill to play there.

Defensively, he keeps opponents shooting under 50% in the post and is slightly above the league average in that regard. He’s is the second most challenged center when it comes to defending that play type, but at best, opposing offenses get average returns taking on Myles.

Offensively, he’s slightly above average with his 0.96 points per his possession in the post, but if you ever listened to anyone who knows analytics, post shots are one of the least efficient in basketball. His 47.9 percent shooting isn’t too bad at all.

Of course, his rebounding is the most often cited issue, and Cleaning the Glass puts him under the 50th percentile when it comes to that, but he’s close to the league average as far as rebounding percentage.

Rebounding aside, the stats say he has the skill to play in the post, particularly on defense as he’s roughly in the same territory as Karl-Anthony Towns, but obviously, there’s something missing from his game.

Myles Turner must commit his mind and body to post play

It’s commitment to physicality and getting down and dirty in the post. We’ve seen flashes of it, but there’s never been a full commitment to it. It’s never been a state of mind for Turner.

That’s what coach Nate McMillan wants from him as he said in a story from 1070 the Fan’s Kevin Bowen.

"“We do want more focus on the defensive end, defending the basket, rebounding the ball, bringing that physical presence to the paint, because his position requires he does that, playing at the 5 position. We haven’t been a really good rebounding team and we can be better. He can be better. Offensively, continue to work on your game, but we want more focus on the defensive end of the floor, defending, blocking shots. With bigs at that 4/5 position, it takes them a couple of seasons to go through and play that position and realize, ‘I need to bulk up. I need to get stronger. Mentally, I’ve got to get tougher and realize, I’ve got to play in the paint a little bit more.’ I think this offseason, he’s done the things that will make him feel confident to come back and play that position.”"

The bulking up happened and is important in getting him mentally ready to grind it out in the post. I can’t speak for his mindset, but one would think a bigger and stronger player is mentally more willing to get into the post position on offense. Last year, while effective, he was 50th in post attempts, behind most of the league’s centers.

While he doesn’t need to try to back down DeMarcus Cousins or Joel Embiid every time, he needs to be ready to exploit matchups. We saw in the playoffs that the Cavaliers weren’t afraid of putting smaller defenders on him for this reason.

It’s not a case of Turner being “soft” mentally as much as it is a reliance on his skills as a shooter. While his play is acceptable, it shows a weakness in his play. And where there is a weakness, opponents can exploit it.

More from 8 Points, 9 Seconds

But all the bulking up means nothing if he doesn’t remind himself to get down there more often. If teams only see him as a shooter and not a multi-dimensional player, then they can scheme around him and turn him into a liability for the Pacers offense.

And a more physical approach should show up in rebounding and assists, too. If he’s closer to the basket, he’s more likely to grab rebounds. If he’s attracting attention in the post, which again, statistically he is an above average scorer from there, then it should create shooting chances for his teammates as well if he demands help-defense and double teams.

But it’s on the coaching staff, too

The Pacers must also be ok with Turner crashing the glass more often on both sides of the ball. That means one less body hurrying to get back in to play in transition. Indiana had the sixth-best transition defense last season, so how for might that slip if rebounding takes priority? And is it worth the trade-off?

Offensively, it could decrease the number or pick and rolls as well as pick and pop opportunities for Indiana. If they put Turner in the post, they need to give him the ball there. It can be a waste of time and effort for him if he fights for the position but the ball doesn’t end up in his hands.

Turner’s put in work to get himself ready for the task, but it’s up to McMillan and company to create a balance so that it’s an asset for the offense, not a talking point.

A state of mind

But it all comes down to the mental approach of Turner, which is why it’s hard to know if he is capable of making the change. Again, I don’t think it’s mental or physical weakness in the sense he is afraid to, but he has to train himself to get dirty more often.

We’ve seen flashes of it, which gives hope to the idea, but unless he mentally tells himself he can and will often, then it’s hard to picture him doing it consistently.

He already showed the talent for it, but creating a willingness to do it is another thing entirely. This isn’t to say he can’t, but there’s little doubt he has the ability to. It’s all in his head, for better or worse.

Next. Pacers playing a waiting game with Thaddeus Young. dark

Hopefully for Indiana and Turner, the bulk he added this summer gives him the confidence to get nasty and become the center the Pacers need him to be.