Indiana Pacers: Is the Turner & Sabonis experiment working?

Indiana Pacers (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
Indiana Pacers (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Indiana Pacers have gone against the grain with starting two big men in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. In the early portion of the season, the combination has mixed results.

Before the season started, the Indiana Pacers committed to starting both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. Starting two big men is bucking the trend of the modern NBA where “small ball” has become king.

The Pacers looked to take a step outside the box.

Just two days before the Pacers opened the season, Sabonis inked a four-year $77 million contract extension that kicks in next season.

Turner signed a similar four-year extension last year. The Pacers want both players to be a part of their long term plans, but can it work?

The 13-7 Pacers are just 7-5 in games where both players have started. Both players are trending in opposite directions.

Sabonis is having a career year. His minutes played, free-throw percentage, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks per game are all career highs. The power forward plays with pride, passion, and never backs down.

Sabonis also is an elite screen setter. The Pacers can run a pick and roll with Sabonis and either Jeremy Lamb, Malcolm Brogdon, or T.J. Warren which in return gives opposing defenses nightmares.

Sabonis is also an elite passer for a big man, he’s not afraid to find the open man when being doubled in the post.

With season averages of 18.5 points and 13 rebounds, Sabonis is thriving and is a big part of the Pacers’ early-season success.

On the other hand, Turner is struggling. Turners’ averages are all down from last season with the exception of his three-point percentage.

Turner sounded upset and somewhat disengaged in a post-game interview after the blue and gold picked up a huge win over the Utah Jazz.

Despite the win, Turner was frustrated about his lack of touches.

After only attempting six shots against Utah and hitting three, Turner attempted 14 shots Friday against the Hawks hitting only five. Turner did score 17 points in that overtime win.

Saturday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, things went from bad to worse for Turner.

Turner was 1 for 8 from the field and 1 for 2 from the free-throw line for only three points and three rebounds.

Joel Embiid dominated Turner in the post. To be fair, Sabonis struggled defending Embiid as well, but he was also making Embiid work on the defensive end.

After the heartbreaking loss, Turner deleted his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

He has since reactivated his Instagram account, but most of the content was deleted.

Luckily for Turner, he would bounce back with a strong scoring performance against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Turner would finish with 17 points but had only six rebounds. A low number compared to his counterpart Sabonis who has been cleaning the boards this season for the Pacers.

Turner has yet to meet the expectations for this season.

Despite the mixed results, I believe this experiment can still work. Hopefully, Turner will break out of his funk and get back into a groove on the current five-game road trip.

Next. Indiana Pacers continue to contend in a season up for grabs. dark

It’s too early to give up on the two-tower approach and look for a trade.