Myles Turner is just 21 years old and is already the face of the Indiana Pacers. After the Pacers were forced to trade Paul George this past offseason, Turner is immediately in store for a much larger role in the 2017-18 NBA season.
Over the past few years, Indiana has run their offense through George. Kevin Pritchard’s plan was to build around George and Turner moving forward, but George made his unhappiness with the franchise clear. That led to the Pacers trading him to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Last season with the Pacers, Turner showed quite a bit of development. He ended up averaging 14.5 points per game to go along with 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. Turner shot 51.1 percent from the field overall and knocked down 34.8 percent of his three-point attempts.
Indiana opened their 2017-18 season with a 140-131 win over the Brooklyn Nets. Turner showed off a much-improved skill-set, scoring 21 points and chipping in 14 rebounds and four blocked shots. It was obvious that his hard work has paid off and the future couldn’t be brighter.
For years Paul George was the "leader" the Pacers had. Myles Turner, 21, is growing into the leader the Pacers need. https://t.co/ZdUZW33H1F— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelStar) October 19, 2017
Looking ahead at the 2017-18 season, Turner is a good bet to end up winning the Most Improved Player of the Year award.
Winning the award won’t come easy for Turner. He will have plenty of competition with names like Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, Jusuf Nurkic, and Nikola Jokic. There are other players that will be involved in the conversation as well, but none of the players mentioned have the opportunity that Turner has.
Turner is the go-to guy for the Pacers. Oladipo is going to be the high scorer in the back-court, but Nate McMillan’s offense has always run through talented big men.
Simply watching the Pacers’ season opener should show why Turner is a good bet to win the award. He was used heavily within the offense and showed off a wide variety of ways to score. Whether he was shooting the outside jumper, a mid-range look off the pick-and-roll, or getting to the rim and finishing with his length and athleticism, the Nets did not have anyone that could match up with Turner.
At 6-foot-11 and 255 pounds, Turner has bulked up from a physical standpoint. He was pushed around in the paint a lot last season, but his new build will not allow that to happen.
Defensively, Turner finished his sophomore NBA season No. 3 in the league when it came to blocked shots. He is very proud of his ability as a rim protector and that has not changed this season. Turner blocked four shots against the Nets and will once again be among the elite shot blockers.
Couple his improved offensive repertoire and a much bigger role within the offense and his numbers should skyrocket. Add in the defensive ability that he brings to the court and the Pacers’ young star is without question a favorite to be the most improved player in the NBA.
Assuming he continues playing with confidence and embraces the new franchise leadership role that he has inherited from George, there is nothing holding Turner back from not only being the most improved player in the league, but also an Eastern Conference All-Star.
Indiana may be going through a bit of a “rebuilding” process, but they still firmly believe that they are a playoff-caliber team. Turner has made his goal of making the playoffs known and is more than capable of backing that belief up with his on-court performance.
Expect to see Turner take a huge leap forward in his third NBA season. Indiana may not have a notable superstar on their roster, but it won’t be long before Turner is considered a superstar. He has the work ethic and potential to become one of the best big men in the league and is prepared to make his name known this season.
Do you think Myles Turner will end up winning the NBA Most Improved Player of the Year award? If not, who do you think will end up earning those honors? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Featured Image by Michael Conroy/AP Images]