Indiana Pacers: Breaking down the importance of Myles Turner

The Indiana Pacers did not trade Myles Turner prior to the 2021 NBA Draft which signals his return for the upcoming season. If that is the case and the Pacers return to a two-big starting lineup once again, there is still a range of success that they should expect from the Turner-Sabonis pairing.

With the new season on the horizon, we must look again at how valuable Myles Turner is for the Indiana Pacers.

Turner is well known as the defensive anchor of this team and was sure to prove that throughout last season. His presence under the rim – and his ability to pick up smaller opponents away from the rim – was arguably the only positive for Indiana on the defensive end under Nate Bjorkgren.

Indiana has surrounded Turner with plenty of scoring options on offense to minimize his need to score from beyond the arc, which has not been a consistent role for him. Each summer, the goal is for Turner to come back as an offensive floor-spacer and perimeter shooter but his inability to knock down shots consistently leaves a sour taste in our mouths.

As he dives into another season in Indiana, we can still find plenty of use for Myles Turner and his skillset with Rick Carlisle taking over. There are a few reasons why Myles Turner will be an impactful player next season, even if he struggles on offense.

For starters, Turner was the only capable starter for Indiana on the defensive end last season and his absence near the end of the year paved way for way too many easy buckets. Opponents attacked Indiana with ease near the rim and the way Sabonis was used as a chaser did not help their case.

Bjorkgren really struggled to get the defensive unit on the same page and the Pacers were forced to win games with their offense, a different approach than the franchise is accustomed to. T.J. Warren returns as a helpful wing defender to hopefully limit the blow-bys and give Turner some breathers as a rim protector.

The Pacers simply need someone who can be an enforcer on defense while allowing Sabonis and Warren to take a bit of a step back. Rather than having the top scorers wasting a ton of energy on defense, letting Turner clean up after them will do wonders.

No, I’m not saying the Pacers should simply not have Warren and Sabonis play any defense but Turner’s presence should limit the chasing and contact that they will endure. Turner should also be free to chase blocks and attack opposing shots without risking rebounds and fouls.

We all know that Turner is not a strong body crashing the glass but Domantas Sabonis is one of the league’s top rebounders. Instead of worrying about Turner’s rebounding totals, he takes pride in forcing misses and allowing Sabonis to clean things up.

Fouling is part of the game and in the off chance that Turner is taken off the floor with foul trouble, the Pacers have two very capable youngsters behind him who can fill that sort of role. Isaiah Jackson and Goga Bitadze both need playing time to develop and are both exciting rim protectors worth investing in.

While Turner will be a stud under the rim, his presence should not be limited to that area of the floor. He has proven to be a very solid defender on the perimeter and away from the basket. He is not a lost cause when he strays away from the paint and that should make the Pacers very happy.

Adding a larger volume to his shooting numbers should be in Indiana’s plans but they do not need to force things through Turner on offense. He can be a stretch big with enough of a shot to threaten defenses and pull bodies out of the lane for Sabonis and others to do work down low.

When looking at Myles Turner, we cannot focus on the raw data. We must understand how his skillset opens things up for his teammates and can be used to help the team win. No, he is not the perfect player and I am certainly not a fan of playing two centers, but Turner can be a valuable weapon for the Pacers.