The Indiana Pacers (15-8) are currently sitting in sixth place in the Eastern conference and considering how many injuries they have had to start this season, it’s a good start. While the presence of All-Star guard Victor Oladipo is certainly still missed in the lineup, newcomers like Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, and the two new T.J.s (Warren and McConnell) have definitely helped the team thus far. They have also gotten great production the brotherly tandem of Aaron and Justin Holiday.
Everyone has marveled at the stellar play of Domantas Sabonis, who is averaging over 18 points and 13 rebounds per contest. Which one could argue he should strongly be considered for a spot on the All- Star spot in the East. However, when it comes down to who should be considered the most important player on the roster, fifth year Myles Turner needs to be first on the list.
His stats this season aren’t jaw dropping like Sabonis, but his role on the team is just as important. Turner has been a huge topic lately especially since he ghosted his social media accounts and it seems like many have been very critical of his play. “Soft” is one of the terms thrown around a lot when trying to describe Turner’s play style.
Is it a fair assessment? It largely depends on a game-to-game basis. For example, it’s more noticeable when he struggles with defending bigger centers like Andre Drummond and Joel Embiid but doesn’t the rest of the NBA too? There aren’t many big men out there who can succeed in defending either of those two one-on-one. Many teams have to resort to double teams.
If you put Sabonis on an All-Star center, it doesn’t help the Pacers long-term. They would draw even more fouls on a player plagued with foul trouble and his offense is more vital to the team. Plus Myles still leads the team in blocks (37) and also happens to be top-10 league wide.
Now offensively, Turner has registered career lows in both shooting percentage (43%) and usage rate (16.3). This can be contributed to also posting a career low in usage percentage, but when he does get looks he needs to be smarter in shot selection.
There’s definitely something to be said about his lack of development of a post game or aggression getting to the rim (another career low in percentage of shots coming within three feet). Even when he sets a screen on an opposing guard and clearly has a size advantage, it seems like Turner wants to pop instead of roll. To his credit he is shooting the three at a respectable 36.7 percent, but again it all comes down to taking them when it’s an open shot. It’s one thing to pop out to bring another center away from the basket, but when he has a guard on him, it would be nice to see him cut harder to the rim.
He may not ever be a go-to big man offensively, but when it comes down to having someone on the back line of the defense that can be trusted, he’s definitely THE guy for the Pacers. It just continues to be on him to improve offensively moving forward and playing smarter against the more talented NBA bigs.
Just remember, he’s still only 23.