On the seventh day, God created a Myles Turner trade rumor.
OK, Turner hasn’t been in trade rumors quite that long, although it does seem like it at times. “The Deal Zone” didn’t even exist back in 2018, when Turner said he’d “see [rumors] all the time, and people were saying it was a sure thing” that he would get moved.
With the Pacers embarking on a clear rebuild, moving Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert and others in the past year, it is a little odd that Turner is still on the team.
So… how good is Turner if nobody has pulled the trigger on a trade for him?
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Myles Turner is one of the best big man defenders in the NBA
Turner has never made an All-Defensive Team, but he probably should have multiple times. He’s one of the best shot-blockers in the league, and he has led the league twice in that statistical category over the past four years.
Many of the league’s best shot-blockers sacrifice good positioning in their attempts to get as many swats as possible. Turner does not fall into that camp. He doesn’t foul at an abnormally high rate, and he has solid fundamentals that back up his elite rim deterrence.
He measures as one of the best rim protectors in BBall-Index’s metrics.
Rim Protection matters for Centers hoping to have a strong defensive impact. But it’s not the only key!
⬆️ Elite Impact on Team Defense
⬇️ Bad Impact on Team Defense
➡️ Elite Rim Protectors
⬅️ Bad Rim Protectors
🟣🟡 Defensive Role
▫️⬜️ On 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 mostly a drop big, but he has done more hard hedging in recent years and played more shallow drops. He moves his feet well on the perimeter.
In short, Turner is in the argument for best big man defender outside of Rudy Gobert. He’s the defensive anchor that every team is looking for.
Myles Turner’s reputation for weak rebounding is only slightly warranted
The one wart in Turner’s defensive game is his lack of rebounding prowess. For a player with his size (6-11, 250 pounds), a career average of 6.7 rebounds per game is a little bit of a disappointment. The Pacers have also been a bottom-third defensive rebounding team for pretty much the entire Turner era outside of his rookie year.
Turner isn’t quite as bad of a rebounder as his raw numbers suggest. When Sabonis was on the floor with him, he had to guard out on the perimeter a fair amount, leaving him in poor position to rebound.
Turner is also diligent at boxing out, ranking 14th in box outs per game, according to the NBA’s 2021-22 tracking data. So while he doesn’t grab a ton of rebounds himself, he is at least doing his job to keep opponents off the glass.
Myles Turner is a mixed bag offensively
The idea of Turner as an offensive player is an intriguing one. There aren’t many 6-11 players that can capably spread the floor, draw out opposing centers and dominate from inside as well.
Unfortunately, Turner only does about half of those things in practice.
The main weapon in Turner’s offensive arsenal is the pick-and-pop 3-pointer, but he just doesn’t hit enough of those shots. He had a down year, hitting on only 33.3 percent of his 3-point attempts last season. Still, that’s not much lower than his career mark of 34.9 percent. That’s a respectable number, but it’s clear that teams aren’t really afraid of Turner bombing away.
A large chunk of Turner’s triples are open looks. Out of the 179 players that shot at least 100 open 3-pointers last season (classified as six-plus feet of space by the NBA’s tracking data), Turner was 35th in the percentage of his shots that were open. He only hit 32.5 percent of those open looks. He posted similar numbers last season.
Turner’s inability to punish defenses for sagging off him has big ramifications. With defenders willingly helping off him, it becomes more difficult for his teammates to score. And Turner’s other main offensive skill, attacking closeouts, becomes much less effective when defenders aren’t closing out hard on him.
When Turner does have the shot falling, he looks amazing. He dropped 40 points early last season on a varied repertoire of moves.
🔥 @Original_Turner was LOCKED IN 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, meaning that when he catches the ball on the perimeter, he can’t do much more than make basic reads.
If Turner ever does become a consistent 3-point threat, then the outlook for his offensive ability gets a lot rosier. He’s improved as a finisher at the rim, per stats at Cleaning the Glass. He has also steadily improved in the post, ranking in the 89th percentile last season.
What does this all add up to? Turner’s value is extremely high on defense. And even with a jump shot that looks better in theory than practice, he’s not bad offensively.
He’s a top 50 player in my view. That’s short of All-Star consideration, but he could be a very good starter on a championship contender.
What is Myles Turner’s contract situation?
Turner is on a good value contract. He’s in the last year of his deal, and he’s making only $18 million this upcoming season. That puts him at No. 76 on the league’s player salary list.
It is a very movable contract on fair value.
Why hasn’t Myles Turner been traded?
Turner is the type of player that any contending team could use. The Pacers don’t really have much use for his services given their rebuilding timeline and are clearly shopping him.
He also apparently hasn’t been thrilled with his role on the team, as reported by The Athletic’s Jared Weiss last season.
“It’s clear that I’m not valued as anything more than a glorified role player here, and I want something more, more opportunity,” Turner told Weiss. “I’m trying really hard to make the role that I’m given here work and find a way to maximize it. I’ve been trying to the past two, three seasons.
“But it’s clear to me that, just numbers-wise, I’m not valued as more than a rotational role player, and I hold myself in a higher regard than that.”
Again… why hasn’t he gotten shipped away?
The answer seems to be that there is interest in him, but the Pacers are holding out for the maximum possible return. Mark Schindlerhost of the “Indy Cornrows” podcast, shared his insight.
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“More just my guess [and] assumption, but based on reporting, it’s seemed the Pacers have been pretty far away from other teams in terms of what they ask in return for Myles,” Schindler said. “I was under the impression he’d get moved at the deadline, then the [Sabonis] trade happened, which made it a bit more gray in terms of whether or not that trade would happen.
“Then he dealt with the foot injury as the year rounded out, which also undoubtedly hurt his trade value again before the draft.”
Tony Eastwriter and host of the “Locked on Pacers” podcast, added similar sentiments.
“Injuries in recent seasons are a big factor, and Turner has fallen behind his perception as a shooter,” East said. “He would be much better on a contending team. … But the teams he would be best on don’t always have the resources or capital to actually trade for him.”
Turner does still seem like a decent bet to get moved at some point. As an expiring contract, it’s unclear if the Pacers would bring him back once he hits unrestricted free agency next summer.
There will be a ton of teams with cap space bidding for his services, so it may make more sense to move him now rather than lose him for nothing down the road.