Myles Turner 2018 Season Review

Pacers center Myles Turner sits down with Pacers.com's Pat Boylan to look back on the 2017-18 season and look ahead to the future.

Myles Turner 2018 Player Review

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Myles Turner 2018 Season Review

Pacers center Myles Turner sits down with Pacers.com's Pat Boylan to look back on the 2017-18 season and look ahead to the future.
May 21, 2018  |  02:48

Myles Turner 2017-18 Season Highlights

Check out the top plays from Pacers center Myles Turner's 2017-18 season.
May 21, 2018  |  01:59

My Home Court: Myles Turner

Myles Turner grew up in Bedford, Texas, where his parents got him a full-sized basketball hoop at an early age. Turner spent countless hours honing his shot on the rim, getting shots up after school and long after the sun went down.
Mar 16, 2018  |  01:55

Player Review 2018: Myles Turner

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Age: 22
Years Pro: 3
Status: Entering the fourth season of his rookie contract.
Key Stats: Averaged 12.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks while playing 28.3 minutes per game. Missed 17 games due to concussion and injuries.

Myles Turner's third NBA season brought a slight decline in his statistics and his public image. It might turn out to be the most meaningful season of his NBA career, however, if the realization that came over him doesn't float off with the summer wind.

Turner's scoring and rebounding averages dropped from the previous season as did his shooting percentage. His playing time took a hit, too, by three minutes per game, due largely to the capable backup help of Domantas Sabonis. It was Sabonis' presence, in fact, that raised some concerns about Turner's play because of their contrasting styles.

Whereas Sabonis is a physical, grinding center who wore battle scars on his face as a badge of honor, Turner has relied mostly on finesse throughout his three seasons with the Pacers. He's loved nothing better than to send rafter-scraping 3-point shots toward the basket on one end and sneak in from the weakside and block shots at the other. He's done those things well, and consistently enough to maintain the optimism of fans.

That changed a bit this season. Turner started out his Pacers career being just 19, which can be a good excuse for practically anything. Now he's up to being just 22, still plenty young. He's only two months older than Sabonis, who entered the draft a year after Turner, and younger than Ben Moore, a rookie this season on a two-way contract between the Pacers and the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Still, at some point the clock runs out on age-related explanations for a player's shortcomings.

Turner has established himself as a good NBA player. He's a 6-foot-11 center with athleticism and shooting range. He hit 36 percent of his 3-pointers this season, and hit six-of-13 in the playoffs. He also finished third in the NBA in blocked shots with 1.8 per game, and led the league much of the first half of the season. He was averaging 2.5 blocks on Christmas Day, but averaged just 1.4 the rest of the season.

PHOTO GALLERY: Myles Turner's 2017-18 Season in Photos »

That's a great base to build from, but to become the All-Star he wants to be he'll need to add scoring weapons around the basket, particularly when posting up shorter players after defensive switches, and rebound more aggressively.

His rebounding averages have been suppressed somewhat by playing so often on the perimeter on both offense and defense, but he's blown his cover by proving he can do it when he's enthused about it. It's likely no coincidence that his best rebounding game in each of the past two seasons came in the season-opener at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, when pent-up anticipation filled the air — 16 against Dallas last season and 14 against Brooklyn this season. And it so happens his best rebounding game as a rookie (16) came on his 20th birthday, in a victory over New Orleans.

He had four fewer double-figure rebounding games this season than last, and that's where the realization factor comes into play.

That's where his realization comes into play. As the season progressed, Turner began to acknowledge the need to become a more physical rebounder. He identified Jan. 30 as a turning point, the date one of his teammates — whom he never revealed — called him "soft." It showed, because the following night, on Jan. 31, he had his first double-figure rebounding game since Nov. 29, and just his fifth of the season. He went on to have eight such games in a 19-game stretch, excluding the game against Toronto when he sprained his left ankle and played limited minutes.

He had no double-figure rebounding games in the last 10 of the regular season, however, and just one in the playoff series with Cleveland, the Game 3 victory at The Fieldhouse.
Kevin Pritchard spoke during the season of the need for Turner to have a more consistently aggressive rebounding mindset.

"There's a thing in the league called 'dirty rebounds,' where if it's between a couple of players he has to get it," Pritchard said. "He's fully aware of it, he works on it, but those kind of things are really done in the summer. We've made him aware. We feel like he can take a big step if he gets stronger."

Improved strength will help Turner score more easily around the basket, but he needs more agility, too. He showed a reluctance to try to score in the low post until this season, and a lack of skill when he did try. That's been a sad irony given the presence of one of the NBA's all-time great post-up scorers, Al Jefferson, the past two seasons.

Finally, around the midpoint of this season Turner began acknowledging the need to work on that part of the game. And more and more, rather than lofting 3-point shots at the end of practice, he was seen working on post-up scoring.

"I have to be more effective down in the paint," he said late in the season. "I know what I can do on the perimeter, but for the team and myself to be successful, I've got to be able to make plays down there."

Those words soothed the ears of many Pacers fans, just as the sight of Turner scoring on an aggressive post-up move for a crucial basket in a victory at Boston on March 11 was soothing to the eyes.

Turner shows hints of becoming a dominant NBA player, but needs to become stronger and add to his scoring arsenal to do so. That process begins with the willingness to do so, and that seems to be what he took from this season.

That desire, should it hold, merits another season of patience and optimism.


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