Indiana Pacers: Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner pairing shows promise

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Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Before the season began, the Indiana Pacers made it clear they would be doing something somewhat unconventional, starting Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner together in the frontcourt.

Two players with somewhat overlapping skillsets, this felt like it would create a clear logjam for the team with fit and chemistry issues that would reduce both of the impact players to a lesser value for the team.

Kevin Pritchard and Nate McMillan wouldn’t budge despite the criticism, this is how the team would play, at least to start the year.

The pairing wasn’t one that would be married together for entire games. Primarily, the duo starts games together. Sabonis leaves the floor first, as he has a secondary role in leading the second unit to help the Pacers get leads over the opposing team’s weaker lineups.

The duo has shown promise this season. Heading into next year, there is reason to believe that this pairing is a net-positive and one that can enforce its will on opposing teams, especially in the playoffs.

To see that promise, one does need to look a little deeper than the season-long numbers, but those numbers are important to building up the picture of the process that has been connecting these two players together.

Indiana Pacers visage is different with Sabonis and Turner sharing the court

To understand this pairing, we must first understand how responsibilities have changed for Myles Turner. Turner was asked to adjust in order to fit Sabonis into the starting lineup.

One of the biggest things he would be asked to change is his shot profile. To allow for more space for Sabonis to operate on offense, Turner was asked to take an increased amount of 3-pointers.

Last season, Turner took 25.1 percent of his shots from beyond the arc, this season he has taken 44.3 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. Turner is hitting about 5 percent fewer of his 3-point shots this season, an expected dip with a higher volume.

Adjusting your shot profile can be a tough one for many players. We’ve seen dips in shooting percentages from both Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb this season as they’ve taken more mid-range shots and fewer 3-point attempts to fit into the Pacers mid-range heavy system.

Turner took 25.6 percent of his shots within three feet of the rim last season, just 21.1 percent this season. He’s filling a completely new role that he’s not yet acclimated to, something that comes with expected bumps in the road.

For Sabonis, this means the opportunity to get after it on the interior. Not as gifted as a shooter, he doesn’t have the flexibility or the threat from deep to stretch the defense out as much as Sabonis. That’s why Turner was tasked with making the adjustment.

Let’s first look at how the duo has performed overall this season and look at an interesting case study from a month’s worth of games to see why, exactly, we should be encouraged with this pairing moving forward.

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