The guide to “fixing” Myles Turner

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 17: Myles Turner #33 of the Indiana Pacers gets ready for the next play in the game at the Atlanta Hawks in the second quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on November 17, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana.(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 17: Myles Turner #33 of the Indiana Pacers gets ready for the next play in the game at the Atlanta Hawks in the second quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on November 17, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana.(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

Myles Turner’s season hasn’t been what we all hoped so far. Thankfully, it looks like better things are on the horizon for him and the Indiana Pacers.

Former first-round pick Myles Turner has been the most polarizing figure on the Indiana Pacers early on in the 2018-2019 campaign.  Through his posting of summer workout videos, he created a great deal of hype heading into the season.  Would this be the year that the Pacers big man turned the corner into stardom?

Through the team’s first 16 games, his offensive game has been, let’s face it, a statistical letdown.  He is currently averaging just under 11 points per game and 5.3 rebounds.  These numbers pretty much mirror his rookie season production, a year in which he only started in half of his games.

  In fact, his backup Domantas Sabonis has appeared to take the leap we all hoped Turner would, with some Pacers fans calling for Sabonis to take over the starting role.  There is clearly a large amount of potential in Turner and we get glimpses from time to time as to just how good he can be.

How do the Pacers unlock that potential and move him into a new tier of NBA centers? Let’s take a look.

1. Curb your current expectations

Take a trip down memory lane and remember who the Indiana Pacers drafted back in Myles Turner.  DraftExpress highlights this perfectly here, pointing out his issues with mobility coming out of the University of Texas.

Regardless of what you think of Turner’s play, he looks like an athlete nowadays in the NBA.  It was no secret that he was going to be a long-term project, but with the lack of patience exhibited by some Pacers fans, you’d think the team drafted him first overall.  Let me put it this way, the way the Orlando Magic fans gave up on Victor Oladipo is eerily similar to how some in Indy view Myles Turner.  Don’t believe me? Read this piece from 2015 from the Orlando Sentinel.  Oladipo noticed the criticism he was getting for not performing to offensive expectations set out for him at the time.

He was only 23 at the time and the Magic would trade him at the end of the season, along with Sabonis.  We know the rest of the story from there.  I’m not saying Turner is immune from criticism, but there is still plenty of time for him to develop.

2. Acknowledge his defensive presence

Turner has quietly been playing defense at an All-NBA level to begin the season.  His summer transformation may not have transferred to his offense yet, but you would have to be trying to ignore the fact that his physical presence is felt in the paint on defense.  He is currently blocking shots at a rate of 2.5 per game, which is a career high.  Given per 36 minute stats, that blocking pace is 3.4 which is a full block above his previous career high.

He is third in the NBA in total blocks and would likely be second if not for a freakish breakout game from Hassan Whiteside where he collected nine swats.  Nearly nine percent of all two’s taken against the Pacers while Turner is on the floor result in blocks from him.  This number is about three percent higher than his previous career high.  His defense has saved games and has moved into elite status.

3. Let Myles Turner shoot

Since Myles Turner was drafted by the Indiana Pacers, the team is 64-51 when he puts up ten or more attempts versus 58-48 when he does not (.557 win percentage with compared to .547 without).  This gap has seemed to increase since Paul George is no longer the focal point of the offense and the scoring has fallen mostly on the shoulders of the backcourt.  Last season the Pacers were 23-13 (.639 win percentage) when Turner had ten or more attempts.  In plain terms, the Pacers are just better when they find a way to get Turner the ball.

4. Use him correctly

I don’t need a doctorate degree in NBA Offense from the Phil Jackson School of Basketball to understand that Turner is not an effective roll man.  That is where Sabonis thrives alongside Tyreke Evans.  Despite this not being a strength, the Pacers use the pick and roll on 20.2 percent of their possessions, the seventh highest number in the league.

Another point of frustration in Turner’s usage comes from where his shots are coming from on the floor.  Thaddeus Young has taken nearly 42 percent of his shots in his career from within three feet of the basket, which has spearheaded an impressive 50 percent success rate from the floor overall.  Yet, in several instances, the ball has found Young in the corner with the opportunity to take a shot.  He has only converted on two of his seven corner three attempts this year (28 percent).

More from 8 Points, 9 Seconds

This is not a knock on Young, as the three-ball has never been an expectation of his game.  This begs the question: how can we get those exact looks for Turner?  This is a player that hit nearly 36 percent of his threes just a year ago.  How many corner three looks has Turner thrown up this year? Exactly as many as I have. Zero. None. Zilch.  Turner’s three attempts have slashed from nearly a quarter of his shots last year to just 15 percent of his attempts this season.

Instead of the backcourt settling for contested mid-range jumpers, Head Coach Nate McMillian needs to find a way to position Turner in a way to get him more looks from deep.  Stop trying to force Turner into a role that he cannot fit.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel here.  If Turner can extend the floor for the Pacers and force other bigs to guard the perimeter it opens up the paint for, you guessed it, Sabonis.

Of note, Sabonis has taken 85 percent of his shots from within ten feet of the basket.  Turner’s best offensive season was his second year in the league.  In that year he had his lowest percentage of points in the paint at 33 percent.  This year he is on pace to score 46 percent of his points inside.  Simply put, Turner is more effective when he spreads the floor, and so is the Indiana Pacers offense.

5. Let him play in the second half

I tweeted this early in the season to vent my frustration with how Turner has disappeared in the second half of games.  When you get all of your attempts in the first half of a game, it is so difficult to find a rhythm offensively.  There are a lot of Pacers fans who rightfully look at Doug McDermott‘s usage and blame it on the strategy.  It’s no secret he’s looking for consistency in order to find his rhythm offensively.  Yet, many of the same fans blame Turner for his lack of rhythm when his minutes are not evenly distributed.  Turner has proven to be an effective option on both ends against the Bulls and Heat on the road.  Besides those two games, I cannot remember a time where he was playing consistent minutes down the stretch.

Next. Meet Victor Oladipo’s buddy cop. dark

Turner is not a bad player, but I cannot deflect that he has been somewhat disappointing offensively this year.  Luckily, it appears that good news is on the horizon, as he has taken seven long-distance attempts in the last two games.  He’s not a broken player and certainly does not have a broken attitude.  Once Nate McMillan brings the Indiana Pacers offense into 2018, we should see an immediate difference in how Turner produces offensively.  Don’t fault the square for not being able to fit in a round hole.