On the seventh day, God created a commercial rumor of Myles Turner.
OK, Turner hasn’t been trade rumored for that long, even though it sometimes seems that way. “The Deal Zone” didn’t even exist in 2018, when Turner said he would “see [rumors] all the time, and people said it was a sure thing” that he was going to get emotional.
As the Pacers embark on a clear rebuild, moving Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert and others over the past year, it’s a bit odd that Turner is still on the team.
So… how good is Turner if no one pulled the trigger on a trade for him?
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Myles Turner is one of the best great defenders in the NBA
Turner never made an All-Defensive team, but he probably should have made it more than once. He’s one of the best shot blockers in the league and he’s led the league twice in that statistic category in the past four years.
Many of the league’s best shot blockers sacrifice good positioning in their attempts to get as many shots in as possible. Turner does not fall into this camp. He doesn’t foul at an abnormally high rate, and he has strong fundamentals that bolster his elite rim deterrence.
It measures as one of the best rim protectors in the BBall-Index metrics.
Rim protection is important for centers hoping to make a strong defensive impact. But this is not the only key!
⬆️ Elite Impact on Team Defense
⬇️ Bad impact on team defense
➡️ Elite rim protectors
⬅️ Wrong rim protectors
🟣🟡 Defensive role
▫️⬜️ Ball Defensehttps://t.co/Xnn6TCpu23 pic.twitter.com/3jSoqvqlcS
– BBall Index (@The_BBall_Index) July 28, 2022
Versatility is the name of the game for big men in the NBA playoffs, and Turner brings a touch of that as well. He’s primarily a big drop, but he’s been doing more hard hedging in recent years and playing more shallow drops. He moves his feet well on the perimeter.
In short, Turner is in the argument for the best great defender outside of Rudy Gobert. He is the defensive anchor that every team is looking for.
Myles Turner’s reputation for poor rebounding is only mildly justified
The only wart in Turner’s defensive game is his lack of rebounding prowess. For a player of his size (6-11, 250 pounds), a career average of 6.7 rebounds per game is a little disappointing. The Pacers have also been a bottom-tier defensive rebounding team for pretty much the entire Turner era outside of his rookie year.
Turner isn’t as bad a rebounder as his raw numbers suggest. When Sabonis was on the ground with him, he had to defend enough on the perimeter, leaving him in a bad position to rebound.
Turner is also diligent in boxing, ranking 14th in boxing outs per game, according to 2021-22 NBA tracking data. So even if he doesn’t pick up a ton of rebounds himself, he’s at least doing his job of pushing opponents away from the glass.
Myles Turner is a mixed bag offensively
The idea of Turner as an attacking player is intriguing. There aren’t many 6-11 players who can effectively expand the ground, draw in opposing crosses and dominate from within as well.
Unfortunately, Turner only does about half of these things in practice.
The main weapon in Turner’s offensive arsenal is the 3-point pick-and-pop, but he just doesn’t hit enough of those shots. He’s had a down year, making just 33.3% of his 3-point attempts last season. Still, that’s not much lower than his career mark of 34.9%. It’s a respectable number, but it’s clear that teams aren’t terribly afraid of Turner’s shelling.
A lot of Turner’s triples are open looks. Of the 179 players who fired at least 100 open 3-point shots last season (classified as more than six feet from space by NBA tracking data), Turner was 35th in the percentage of his shots that were open. . It only hit 32.5% of those open eyes. He posted similar numbers last season.
Turner’s inability to punish defenses for sagging has big ramifications. With defenders willingly assisting him, it becomes more difficult for his teammates to score. And Turner’s other primary offensive skill, closing outs, becomes much less effective when defenders don’t get very close to him.
When Turner knocks the shot down, he looks amazing. He dropped 40 points early last season on a varied repertoire of moves.
🔥 @Original_Turner was locked up Friday night.
40 points (career high)
3 blocks pic.twitter.com/SCndq9qbqi
—NBA (@NBA) October 23, 2021
More often than not, that 3-point gravity isn’t there. He’s also somewhat limited as a playmaker, which means when he catches the ball on the perimeter, he can’t do much more than basic reads.
If Turner becomes a consistent 3-point threat, the prospects for his offensive ability turn much rosier. He’s improved as a rim finisher, according to stats from Cleaning the Glass. He has also steadily improved in that position, ranking in the 89th percentile last season.
What does all this add up to? Turner’s value is extremely high on defense. And even with a jump shot that looks better in theory than in practice, he’s not bad offensively.
He’s in the top 50 in my opinion. That’s short of All-Star consideration, but he could be a great starter for a championship contender.
What is Myles Turner’s contractual situation?
Turner has a good contract. He’s in the final year of his contract and he’s only earning $18 million this coming season. That puts him 76th on the league’s player salary list.
It is a very mobile contract on the fair value.
Why wasn’t Myles Turner traded?
Turner is the type of player any team in contention could use. The Pacers don’t really need his services given their rebuilding schedule and are clearly buying him.
He also apparently wasn’t thrilled with his role in the team, as The Athletic’s Jared Weiss reported last season.
“Clearly I’m nothing more than a glorified role player here, and I want something more, more opportunity,” Turner told Weiss. “I’m really trying to make my role here work and find a way to maximize it. I’ve tried for the last two or three seasons.
“But it’s clear to me that, just in terms of the numbers, I’m not considered more than a rotating role player, and I hold myself in higher esteem than that.”
Again…why hasn’t it been shipped?
The answer seems to be that there is interest in him, but the Pacers are expecting the maximum possible return. Mark Schindlerhost of the “Indy Cornrows” podcast, shared her insight.
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“More correct my guess [and] assumption, but based on the reports, it looks like the Pacers have fallen pretty far behind other teams in terms of what they’re asking for in exchange for Myles,” Schindler said. “I felt like he would be moved to the deadline, then the [Sabonis] the trade took place, which made the question a bit more gray as to whether or not this trade would take place.
“Then he dealt with the foot injury at the end of the year, which undoubtedly further hurt his commercial value before the draft.”
Tony Eastwriter and host of the “Locked on Pacers” podcast, added similar sentiments.
“Injuries over the past few seasons are a big factor, and Turner has lagged behind his perception as a shooter,” East said. “He would be much better on a team in contention. … But the teams he would be the best on don’t always have the resources or the capital to trade for him.”
Turner always seems like a decent bet to move at some point. As an expiring contract, it’s unclear if the Pacers would bring him back once he reaches unrestricted free agency next summer.
There will be a ton of teams with a bidding cap for his services, so it may make more sense to move him now rather than losing him for nothing down the road.