Indiana Pacers: Is Myles Turner a sleeper for the Most Improved Award?

Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) /

Despite their middling record, the Indiana Pacers have surprised some people with their play this season. While All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton has been on the receiving end of most credit, the team has also enjoyed a breakout season from longtime big man Myles Turner, who has been turning in career highs across the board in the present campaign.

Turner has once again braved through ceaseless rounds of trade rumors earlier in the year to remain with the Pacers on a lucrative contract extension — and he has certainly earned it. Indiana has had more successful years with him anchoring the middle, but this season has definitely been his best one yet.

Now, let’s take the extolling up a notch. Should Myles get some consideration for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award this season?

Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner is turning in his best season yet

In his eighth season in the league, Turner is registering career-best marks in scoring (18 per game), rebounding (eight per outing), field goal percentage (54.3 percent), three-point field goal percentage (40 percent), and three-pointers made (1.7 per contest) — all these despite him logging just 29.9 minutes per game.

Turner has emerged as a potent offensive threat for Indiana — a big departure from his unstable offensive game through the years. He has shown the ability to coexist with Haliburton as a pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop option, ensnaring opposing bigs with his unpredictable offensive skillset as an unconventional center.

Meanwhile, the Pacers’ lack of defensive acuity seemingly hints at a similar decline on Turner’s part, but the team’s utter lack of cushion on D beyond him is to blame. At his best, he’s still the most adept big man in the league at deterring shots. Combine that with his revitalized offensive profile, and you got for yourself a should-be finalist for the Most Improved Player Award.

Will Turner snag the plum for himself? Probably not, but he should at least get some love in the race. It’s not easy for a tenured player to reinvent himself almost a decade into his career, but Myles has done just that this season. The long list of Most Improved hopefuls will likely prevent him from getting much consideration, but his much-improved play for the Pacers cannot be understated.

Even if Myles Turner fails to get his flowers in the awards department, the Indiana Pacers should rest assured that they have a modern big man on the rise as one of their centerpieces as they slowly and calculatingly tread their way atop the East.

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