I was one of them, I’ll admit. You probably were, too. If you weren’t, congrats, but understand that you are rare.
When the Indiana Pacers selected Myles Turner in the 2015 NBA Draft, if you were like most of us, you scoffed. If you were a Pacers fan, you face-palmed. If you were me, you said things like, “looter in a riot” and questioned the beverage intake in the Pacers draft room.
If you were like me, you were dead-to-rights wrong.
Myles Turner is a bad ass, and it hasn’t even taken a full season or even a full rookie season to get this figured out.
Turner is a guy that scored in double figures once in his last eight college games. He was 18 for 49 from the field in that time. Against UConn and Kentucky earlier in the season, he was a combined 2 for 9 from the floor. He was able to get off only three shots against Texas Christian. He had only three games scoring in double figures after Dec. 21 of 2014.
And yet here we are, 35 games into Turner’s career, after 34 in college, and he’s averaging more points (10.4 to 10.1) and a better shooting percentage in the NBA, where the grown men play, than in college.
Good for Myles Turner, because this is impressive. The Pacers moved to 4-1 since a scalding home loss to the Charlotte Hornets where Monta Ellis ripped into the team in a brief players-only meeting. But it also seems to have coincided with Turner hitting his rookie stride after an injury that kept him out the majority of his 2015.
What’s more, it’s impressive how the Pacers not only trust him, but do it in massive moments. There was Turner, knocking down a crucial jumper late against the Miami Heat that helped eventually send the game into overtime. There was Turner, drilling a corner three, his first make from deep of the season, late against the Oklahoma City Thunder in a catalyst win.
On Wednesday night, there again was Turner, pulling down a contested and crucial rebound against the Knicks. And the Pacers are purposely going to him in these clutch moments. He’s getting the ball on purpose in the post as the first option. Paul George is deferring to him at times. So is Monta Ellis.
This is an alarming ascension for a player who was a head-scratching pick to most, and one who has shown amazing versatility to his game on both ends. Turner is getting plenty of rookie calls on the defensive end, but that isn’t inhibiting the effort.
Turner’s beyond-his-years success hasn’t been restricted to the on-court stuff, either. His works in the Indianapolis community shine a light on a guy who thinks well beyond his years with far more important things than whether or not to hedge a screen.
The Pacers aren’t some joint just happy to compete, either. This is a team two years removed from being a legitimate Finals contender, and even though the majority of that core is gone other than the best player (George), this isn’t a club in a rebuilding effort, looking to a rookie to get them a tough bucket in crucial games.
That’s what makes Turner’s ascension and trust even more impressive. A lot of people didn’t believe in Myles Turner to become who he has become, let alone this quickly. Many did. Most didn’t and won’t admit it.
Myles Turner has become a flat out bad ass, and the Pacers may have found themselves yet another franchise player. It’s still early, obviously, but it feels safe to say that those that didn’t believe were all wrong.
The folks putting their head in their hands on draft night shouldn’t have been Pacers’ fans, falling too easily back on a college career not always befitting of the high pick, but the rest of the Central Division. Myles Turner has moxie, talent, confidence, and soon, and all the future in the world in his palms.