Myles Turner has been an absolute pleasure to watch this season as he’s continued to blossom into one of the very best defensive players in the entire league. When your name is mentioned with defensive megastars like the multi-positional stopper Ben Simmons and paint guardian Rudy Gobert and his two Defensive Player of the Year trophies, it’s easy to say with confidence that you are a truly special defensive talent.
Is Myles Turner the most important player for the Indiana Pacers right now?
If you’ve watched the Pacers this year for even a game, this is obvious and it is the biggest reason why I think it isn’t at all lunacy to declare Myles Turner as the most impactful and schematically important player on the roster.
Although NBA offenses are continuing to spread their shot location metrics out well beyond the three-point line, the most valuable and easy shots in basketball are in the lane, and this is why dribble-drivers and athletic bigs still carry a vast amount of value. Having a threat inside is incredibly crucial in having a healthy offense, and players like Myles Turner are so crucial for winning teams because of elite-level rim protection to negate this.
Rim protection will always be the most important trait for a big man to have as this ability takes so much pressure off of a defense and allows perimeter defenders to play aggressively and confidently when defending the aforementioned deadly three-point line thanks to this “safety net” behind them.
Turner’s “safety net” has been a saving grace for a team that is simply lacking in talented perimeter defenders. Without Myles and his switchability and rim protection mastery, Indiana’s top-12 defense would easily be in the gutter of the league. During games, it’s clear that in Sabonis-at-the-five lineups the Pacers are ultra susceptible to hemorrhaging points because of free paint touches that wouldn’t be accessible with Turner roaming.
It’s simply difficult to be confident in consistent stops from this team when Myles isn’t on the floor, and that’s why he has such an impact on Indy’s success.
What about star offensive players like Domantas Sabonis or Malcolm Brogdon?
While a sizable portion of Indy’s success has come from its offensive system that is led by the offensive tandem that is Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis, I don’t think Indiana’s dependency on these guys offensively compares to the dependencies they have defensively on Turner.
In games like our most recent bout with San Antonio, in which we were missing both players, the Pacers still found a way to score 126 points in the first four quarters in a game that went to overtime. The biggest reason for winning the game was clearly Myles, and his four blocks were crucial in a game that was going to take a lot from this team to stop talented drivers like Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Demar Derozan, and Derrick White.
We’ve seen this team succeed at times without elite scoring, but without Myles and his ceiling-raising defense, this team can’t keep up with even above-average offenses.