Myles Turner looked like the big the Pacers needed in his rookie campaign — he could space the floor on offense, he could protect the paint on defense. He was a 19-year-old rookie learning hard lessons on the fly, but he fit better along the front line in Indiana than C.J. Miles or Lavoy Allen. Pacers front office people thought rookie Turner reminded them of rookie LaMarcus Aldridge.
That’s a lot of development still to do, but Turner doesn’t lack for confidence in getting it done. He averaged 10.3 points per game last season, and this is what he told Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.
“Individually, I feel like I can put up big numbers for this team and help in any way necessary. I’d like to see myself put up 15 to 20 points per game. That may seem like a long shot, but I feel like I’m very capable.”
Those numbers aren’t wildly unreasonable, especially if he shoots better from three (21.4 percent last season). The question is will he get the touches on a roster that added Jeff Teague (who shoots more than George Hill) and Thaddeus Young (Paul George and Monta Ellis are going to get theirs, too). Turner has to get his shots in the flow of the offense, not overdo it pushing for numbers.
Also, they need him to be a better defender — he blocked shots at a great rate but was often out of position and just looked like a guy who lacked experience on that end. In addition, his size and frame made it difficult for him against more traditional bigs defensively (think DeMarcus Cousins, although he gives everyone trouble).
The Pacers are hoping Turner’s time on the USA Select Team this summer in Las Vegas helps speed along his development.
“I feel like I’ve made huge strides because that pace is so much faster than what people think. I mean, you see them beating up on these foreign teams and now I can definitely see why teams struggle against them. You have to make plays a lot faster and you have to make reads a lot faster, so I feel like that was really good for me.”
Turner is going to have a lot more on his shoulders this season, but he looked like a rookie who could grow into that role.