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Monday, May 17, 2021

Too soon to give up on Turner, but it’s getting close

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I will readily admit I’ve been openly critical of Myles Christian Turner. Part of that is looking at the talent and athleticism he possesses and asking why he can’t consistently apply it on the floor as one would assume he could, and then pondering why he doesn’t look to be a force in the post and crash the boards. The fact that he’s a finesse player rather than an enforcer type simply drives me nuts, as he clearly has all the tools necessary to pitch a tent in the post and cause havoc down low every time he takes the floor against the opponent. 

However, just when I proclaim it’s time to see what the trade market will bring in return, he goes on a streak in which he blocks a number of shots and dials it in a bit more successfully on those 3-point field goal attempts that shouldn’t be the mainstay of his offensive repertoire. Yeah, I get it, jacking up 3’s is a fashionable part of the NBA game today, but his penchant to settle for opportunities behind the arc as opposed to taking it to the hoop makes me wonder what might have been for the soft spoken and polite fifth-year player out of Bedford, Texas. Yes, just when I write him off again, I stop and think about the fact that he’ll just be turning 24 years old in a couple of weeks, and I find myself debating whether or not his maturation as a player is about to take flight. Those thoughts generally transpire in between a game in which he only snares two boards and shoots poorly from the perimeter, and follows it up in a contest when he blocks four shots and provides some much needed rim protection for his employer. His inconsistency drives me bananas, and makes me long for the glory days of Mel Daniels (heck, even Dale Davis and Antonio Davis) roaming the lane and establishing hoops law and order. 

Is it unrealistic to expect Turner to ever be that type of player? Absolutely. However, it’s not unreasonable to expect him to turn it up a couple of notches and play hard every night and in the process give those who pay to get in a decent return on their money. 

Look, I get it. He came in at age 18 and the learning curve was stupendous, but the honeymoon is over and it’s time for the Pacers brass to determine if his current zip code is permanent, and figure out if his highly manageable contract (if there is such a thing in the NBA) will garner something valuable in return. If you believe certain reports, the Pacers were interested in obtaining Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic. Was Turner part of any alleged deal? Maybe, but you could also argue they may want to give him a little more time to develop, and any trade they may have contemplated did not include the guy who has been nothing short of a solid citizen off the court and a good teammate to boot.

The real question is what does Turner think of his current game and, more importantly, what are his goals and objectives moving forward? He wouldn’t be the first player to not fulfill the expectations of a big-dollar guaranteed contract, and he won’t be the last either. Can he develop into a better, more consistent player? Time will inevitably tell, and while there have been glimpses of what this young man can be, the fact is the clock is no longer on his side.

Five years in the NBA is an eternity, and plenty of time for a team to evaluate a player. It’s time for Turner to understand that he can either make the decision a rather easy one for the Pacers, or one that’s quite difficult by virtue of his play. The real question is, does he even realize how fast the clock is ticking?

Danny Bridges, who thinks Myles Turner may need a change of scenery disguised as a wake up call, can be reached at 317-370-8447 or at bridgeshd@aol.com.

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