INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JANUARY 31: Myles Turner #33 of the Indiana Pacers looks on before the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on January 31, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
The Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets are in an interesting situation — they are not good enough to contend in a loaded Eastern Conference, yet they’re still better than a lot of the other rebuilding teams which makes it impossible to completely bottom out.
This offseason, with a near-max contract slot available, the Pacers went ahead and signed DeAndre Ayton to a four-year, $133 million offer sheet, which Phoenix ultimately matched less than 24 hours later.
I’ll give Indiana an A for effort.
Jokes aside, this pursuit of Ayton proved something — the focus very much remains the same as last year’s trade deadline when the team moved key pieces of their playoff core to build towards the future. Indiana is finally done with their endless cycle of mediocrity. They’re now heading into a full-on rebuild mode.
On the surface, that’s a great move. Fans have wanted a change of direction for a couple of years now. But what about Myles Turner?
Aside from offering Ayton franchise-player money, the Pacers also made repeated attempts to engage Phoenix in sign-and-trade talks. The centerpiece of those pitches? You guessed it, Myles Turner. It also does not help that both parties have so far been unable to agree on a contract extension (Turner is apparently seeking over $20 million annually in his new deal).
With that being said, Indiana is likely to (once again) aggressively carve out opportunities to deal the coveted center, and for the right price, the Charlotte Hornets shouldn’t hesitate to pursue him.
The Charlotte Hornets have long been a team that desperately needs enhancements on the defensive end and at the center position. Mason Plumlee isn’t going to cut it and relying on Mark Williams from day one probably isn’t ideal.
The unicorn label never quite stuck with Myles Turner. I wonder why that is. He’s a long, lengthy, and athletic shot-blocking machine who’s capable of scoring inside, as well as catching fire from deep on any given night — a unicorn, by definition.
40 PTS (career-high) 10 REB 3 BLK 5 3PM (ties career-high) 63 FPTS pic.twitter.com/CO9pw52WRJ
— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) October 23, 2021
Due to a stress reaction in his left foot, Turner’s 2021-22 season ended prematurely, a common occurrence in his career so far. Prior to the injury, the seventh-year big man averaged 12.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks — was on pace to lead the league in blocks for the second straight season (and third in four years).
Turner connected on 54.7% of all his mid-range jump shots (95th percentile among big men) and knocked down 33% of his three-point attempts, the lowest mark since his rookie season. Not many near-seven-footers can stretch the floor like that.
Passing-wise, a career 1.2 assist per game average tells you all you need to know. Myles is not running an offense like Nikola Jokic, Draymond Green, or even Mason Plumlee, our three-assist-per-game compadre. Turner is a modern center in a lot of ways, but he’s not especially sound on playmaking duties. Offensively, Turner is at his best when he sticks with making pick-and-pop threes and rim-rocking dunks (yes, he’s capable of those).
Myles Turner UNLEASHED on Gordon Hayward 😳
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) April 21, 2019
For as good as Turner’s offense is, it has never been his calling card. Defensively, the man is an anomaly. He strikes fear into the heart of opponents, as they appear to shrink whenever he checks into the game.
Opponents shot 8.7 percentage points worse inside 6 feet of the rim vs Turner. That’s better than Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Even better, he had an 8.3 block percentage — not only was it by far the highest mark in the league, that’s like Shaq in NBA 2K2. For reference, three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert, had a 5.7 block percentage this past season. Turner’s shot-blocking ability is truly uncanny; here’s a little fun fact for you: he out blocked the entire Cleveland Cavaliers team in 2018-19 — Turned finished with 199 rejections vs 195 for the Cavs.
Perhaps, the only criticism of Turner’s defensive game lies on his lackluster rebounding numbers. As a 6-foot-11 center, Turner’s career average of 6.7 rebounds per game leaves a lot to be desired, even if the raw numbers are misleading.
As the Robin to Sabonis’ Batman for four straight seasons (three of them as starters), Turner spent long stretches guarding on the perimeter, which put him in an unfavorable position to rebound the ball.
Besides, Turner does a lot of the dirty work. He may not grab a lot of rebounds, but he does a great job of keeping opponents off the glass – ranked 14th in box outs per game. That could make for a seamless transition to Charlotte, as the team loves to have LaMelo Ball grab as many defensive rebounds as possible so he can immediately start the fastbreak.
What makes Turner’s fit on the Charlotte Hornets so great is of course his defense but also the driving lanes that he would open with his three-point gravity. Bringing in Turner, on a reasonable price tag, would help this team stay in the hunt in 2022-23, while at the same time giving Mark Williams a relatable player to learn under.
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