If you look at it a certain way, the Indiana Pacers are in the same unenviable position as teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies — laden with veterans, ostensibly ready to contend, but so far in the rearview mirror of the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs that they barely register as challengers for the title. It should be a frustrating spot, but for Indiana, it feels a little different, and that’s all thanks to the youth of Paul George and the presence of Myles Turner.
The Pacers are not serious challengers for the Eastern Conference title, unless they get seriously hot or other teams face major injury issues. With veterans over 30 — like George Hill, Monta Ellis and Ian Mahinmi — surrounding their superstar in George, this is a season, like so many in Pacers history, in the no-man’s land between true contention and true rebuilding. But Turner’s rookie season gives the Indy fan base a glimpse into a future after this core group disbands, one that could surpass even the heights of the days with David West and Roy Hibbert.
Myles is only 19, but he already has a beautifully varied offensive game. His main weapon is a midrange jumper out of the pick-and-pop, a shot he can get with regularity because his size and length intimidates defenses into trying to wall off the paint, but he’s also shown a willingness and ability to play in the low post, especially to bully smaller defenders. Importantly, he’s shown confidence and decisiveness in both of those areas. He doesn’t hold the ball to consider his options, which is crucial for a guy who’s never more than a third option when on the floor. That indecision plagues many rookies and keeps them out of the rotation on competitive teams, but for Turner, it comes naturally.
“I think it’s just me being aggressive and confident in my abilities,” he told us by phone late last week.
Those abilities were on full display in the late February game he had against the New York Knicks, and fellow rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis (though he spent plenty of time against Carmelo Anthony as well):