Indiana Pacers: The Myles Turner disrespect has to stop

Myles Turner - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Myles Turner - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

It seems like the vacillating yardstick with Myles Turner has never really ended, nor has it even been tempered at the slightest. After a statistically career-best performance against the Washington Wizards, the Indiana Pacers’ longest-tenured player caught the ire of some fans after crashing down to earth in their two previous games.

Against the Miami Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks, Turner outright failed to make an impact, playing a grand total of 30 minutes and 17 seconds combined due to foul trouble in both contests. While the big man has certainly underwhelmed in those games, struggling to not only hit a shot, but also play impactful defense, some are already giving him the brush-off, others even waving the white flag on the seven-year center.

Ironically, those who bark loud enough to give Turner the elbow in his subpar games are also those who fail to give him the credit he deserves, especially when the box score fails to give his impact justice. Aside from the typical monstrous blocks that Myles provides on a nightly basis, he does so much for the Pacers, subtly on offense and demonstratively on defense, that make others shine more without claiming much of the spotlight for himself.

With his importance to the Indiana Pacers, the Myles Turner disrespect has to go

I certainly understand the clamor for Turner to be much more aggressive on the offensive end, especially after showing his full arsenal against the Wizards, but all of that should be guarded. With Indiana justifiably channeling the bulk of its scoring attack though its all-around creators, Myles is better off as a pillar than a linchpin. Alas, the Pacers’ offense is certainly the least of their problems right now, with the team ranking eighth in offensive rating despite missing two starters.

The matchup against Milwaukee particularly spawned a lot of overreactions from fans in blitz of Turner. With the defending champs playing small throughout the game and Myles in early foul trouble (I mean, who doesn’t struggle against Giannis), Rick Carlisle largely went to Domantas Sabonis to singlehandedly man the middle before inserting Goga Bitadze, who, by the way, played impressive defense in his minutes.

Playing Sabonis was obviously meant to challenge the Bucks’ paint-heavy defense as the Pacers’ go-to creator to thwart their schemes with him kicking out to the perimeter for open shots. Bitadze had too good of a momentum on D, and while Turner could’ve easily assumed the same mantle, the coaching staff’s decision to stick with what almost extinguished Milwaukee’s lead was understandable.

Pinning much of the blame to Myles Turner due to his unpleasant numbers is akin to believing that surface numbers automatically equate to good performances. Of course, I am not advocating that the blame be shifted onto someone else, but if we’re talking through mere statistics, then Turner would be an unfair recipient of jabs, since his reserved role on offense essentially streamlines his stats. His explosion against the Wizards, frankly, is an aberration. Even the most devout Myles fans know that.

Myles is far from perfect. Even his niche as a defensive anchor is not free from warranted criticisms. However, for someone who has been a fixture for the Indiana Pacers and a staple for the Circle City, he should be treated better. We all frown when he isn’t given enough national love, but when even some local folks give him the cold shoulder this early, we can’t reasonably expect lofty things, right?

And it’s been five games. Five. I hope (and suggest) that we stay patient, even-handed, and in the words of someone previously beloved, perhaps feathery.

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