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Myles Turner motivated by teammate calling him “soft”

Myles Turner has been on an absolute tear lately, playing with more confidence and aggression on offense and on the boards that he has in his career.

After leading the Indiana Pacers in scoring with 21 points and adding 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in a win against the Lakers, Turner revealed what motivated him to start playing more physical.

“One of my teammates called me soft,” said Turner to reporters after the game. “I don’t play that sh*t. And two, it’s just something that I know I have to do.”

Victor Oladipo, who was sitting next to him in the locker room, seemed surprised asking Myles who called him soft. Turner responded “not you.”

Turner said the date of the event when he decided to start being more physical was January 31st. The Pacers played the Memphis Grizzlies that night and Turner went to the foul line 12 times as he repeatedly drew fouls in the post.

He’s certainly been more physical lately and has been making many tough offensive rebounds and dunks since the All-Star break. Whoever that teammate was, he isn’t calling him soft now.

“Myles is a dominant player when he’s clicking on all cylinders,” Thad Young, who is (or at least seems to be) unlikely to be the one that called him soft, told Jeremiah Johnson after the game, “and he makes us go.”

Updated: Mark Montieth of Pacers.com reports that Lance Stephenson was not the player that called Turner soft. The mystery continues.

“I’m not going to rat anybody out,” Turner told Montieth while confirming that it wasn’t Stephenson.

Montieth reports that Turner isn’t mad at anyone for it and that it was said in a joking way but with “serious intent.”

“It’s a mental adjustment that he had to make,” Darren Collison told reporters after practice. “It had nothing to do with his physical skills. He’s going to be a very good player for a long time. Once he changed that mentality, he’s going to be just fine.”



After some self-evaluation, Myles Turner is silencing his critics

The narrative surrounding Myles Turner’s third season has largely been one of disappointment: Turner’s offensive game hasn’t progressed since last season. He has no post moves. He settles for fadeaway jump shots too often. He can’t rebound. He’s not strong enough yet.

Since the All-Star break though, especially in the last four games for the Indiana Pacers, Turner’s making that dubious narrative disappear quickly. What changed? Some self-evaluation and a change in his mentality.

“I’ve had some self evaluation,” Myles Turner told Tyler Smith of Indy Sports Legends . “After the All-Star break I made it a goal to be more physical on the glass. I’ve got to make myself more versatile. I can’t just settle for jump shots. I’ve always had a post-game, but it’s the mental aspect of it.”

The results of this self-evaluation have been tremendous. Here’s a look at Turner’s statistics broken down before and after the All-Star break.

  • In 42 games prior to the break: 13.5 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, shooting splits of 48.8/35.6/76.4  
  • In 10 games after the break: 15.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, shooting splits of 57/48.3/76.7

“My team needs me,” Turner told the Indy Star. “That’s what it is. The All-Star break was good for me, to kind of take a look at myself, where we are in the standings. I know I need to step up my play.”

Those 10 games even include a few duds due to foul trouble or a lack of involvement in the offense shown by an actual drop in his usage rate since the All-Star break from over 21.2% before to just 19.2% after. After a pair of games in a 3-game stretch where he took three or fewer shot attempts, Turner made some adjustments.

“For us to be the team that we want to be,” Turner said after the Jazz game where he scored 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting. “I have to shoot more than five times in a game. I pick and chose my spots very well tonight.”

One of the frustrating things about his development to this point in his career is that he goes through maddening stretches without opportunities in the offense and never seems to get the ball enough when he’s hot, so it’s good to see Turner start to look at this proactively and make adjustments on his own.

He’s mentioned picking his spots correctly after a few of the last four games and with these numbers you can’t argue with that. He’s looked more and more like the player that many expected to see in his third season over the last four while averaging 21.3 points and 8 rebounds while shooting a sizzling 61.8% from the field and 52.9% from deep.

“I think so, man,” Turner told Jeremiah Johnson after the win against the Sixers when asked if this was the most confident he’s ever been. “I’m picking and choosing my spots very well. My teammates are doing a great job of creating open spaces for me and I’m taking full advantage of it.”

The biggest changes that we’ve seen since the break have been in the paint via consistent success in the post and more assertive rebounding on the offensive and defensive glass.

That improvement down low won’t get a better display than his game-winning post bucket against the Celtics with the game on the line.

Al Jefferson has talked this season how he wants Myles to take it as disrespect when a team switches on the pick and roll. Earlier in the season, it seemed like Turner just dreaded anytime that was the opponent strategy because it took away his bread and butter pick and pop shot.

“Last year, he wouldn’t have even thought about a post; he would have gone with a turnaround jumper or fadeaway,” Jefferson recently told Mark Montieth of Pacers.com. “You’ve got a 6-4, 6-5, 6-6 guard or wing on you and you’re taking those type of shots, that’s when it becomes a problem for me. He understands that. He’s getting his feet in the paint and getting good shots.”

When Oladipo came back in early January after a brief stretch where he missed four games, Turner’s first response to how he helps him succeed on offense was that teams are more reluctant to switch. He just wasn’t comfortable consistently going after those smaller players on the block. He showed flashes in the post, but too often he’d settle for the fading attempt away from contact.

“Just like on the playground when you were growing up, when you’ve got a small on you, your first thought is to go into the paint,” Jefferson told Montieth. “Myles wasn’t comfortable to do that. I think he got tired of that. I was in his ear telling him, ‘Man, you should be upset. You should be mad when teams feel they can switch and put guards on you and you’re taking fadeaways in the post. You’re making it harder than it really is. You’ve got to do something about it.'”

Now, it seems like he’s taking Jefferson’s teachings to heart and treating those switching defenders to some physical play and the biggest thing according to Jefferson is that he’s being more patient when he gets the ball down there.

“That’s something that wouldn’t have happened a year ago,” said Turner after his game-winning post shot against the Celtics. “I would have rushed right there. I took my time. I read the defense and made a strong move.”

His teammates know how important it is that he keeps developing that post game as well.

“When Myles can score down there and is effective down there, and then you have to guard him at the 3 too?” said Oladipo told Pat Boylan after the game against the Celtics. “He’s so young too, it’s crazy. I love playing with him.”

His tracking data on post-up plays has steadily improved to the point of him currently ranking in the 73rd percentile with 0.98 points per possession. His increased use of the pump fake, a sign that he’s being patient, has led to more drawn fouls, something he was already doing well in the post. He has a free-throw rate of 18.3% which is nearly twice as high as Domantas Sabonis and Jefferson’s foul rate when they’re in the post.

As he asserts himself in the paint, he’s seemed to gain even more confidence in his jump shot as he’s taken at least four 3-point attempts in each of the last four games while making over half of his attempts.

And the rebounding? Just watch this sequence and say he hasn’t improved in this area. He’s made putback dunks, grabbed key boards in traffic, and blocked out defenders with greater consistency.

The key for Turner will be doing this consistently. He’s had a few good games this season only to seem to take a step back after foul trouble. But the Pacers are winning games with Turner playing this well even while Oladipo has struggled in some of the same games. If the Pacers can get them both going at the same time in the playoffs, the Pacers might be able to make some noise.


One moment captures the spirit and togetherness of the 2017-18 Indiana Pacers: This Picture is Worth a Thousand Words #5

In case this is your first time here, here’s the concept of This Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: I take an interesting picture from the history of the Indiana Pacers from ABA glory to the modern era and literally write 1,000 words (or more) about the photo.

While typically these columns take a more historical look at the Pacers (you can read about Reggie Miller, Roger Brown, the GQ Photoshoot curse, and the Day After the Brawl here), this current group just did something that will remain in Pacers fans memories for those at the game and watching from home for a long, long time.

Continue reading One moment captures the spirit and togetherness of the 2017-18 Indiana Pacers: This Picture is Worth a Thousand Words #5

How Victor Oladipo sets the pace for the Pacers

Nothing speaks louder for Victor Oladipo’s impact on the Indiana Pacers than his team’s record with and without him.

With him, the Indiana Pacers are 33-19.

Without him, they are 0-6. Simply put: no Victor, no victories.

One of the biggest differences that he makes when he’s playing is how much faster Pacers play. While the impact is only little over a couple of possessions per game when he’s on the floor, that’s the difference between ranking 16th in pace overall when he’s on the court and 26th when he’s off the court.

Continue reading How Victor Oladipo sets the pace for the Pacers

By surpassing expectations, the Pacers earn the chance to stick together

Kevin Pritchard has had a long career working in NBA front offices, but this year’s deadline was different than the rest.

Six players came to the Pacers President of Basketball Operations and told him to keep this team together, which be said had never happened before in his basketball life. One player in particular made a strong plea for the group.

“We deserve to see this thing through,” said the mystery player according to Pritchard. “No one believed in us. No one thought we’d be any good. We deserve this.”

Continue reading By surpassing expectations, the Pacers earn the chance to stick together

The Indiana Pacers chemistry is natural, but not accidental

Kevin Pritchard seems to have created something special in Indiana.

Perhaps not in terms of an abundance of talent on this Pacers team, but in a creation of chemistry that most teams can only dream about having after a few years growing together with little roster turnover. But this team brought in nine new players in a single off-season.

“This is the best locker room that I’ve ever been in,” said Myles Turner.  Continue reading The Indiana Pacers chemistry is natural, but not accidental

I don’t miss you, Paul George

I avoided watching Paul George and the Thunder play until last night when he played his first game against the team that drafted him in the Indiana Pacers.

Much like my strategy would be after a break up with a significant other, I just wanted to avoid it. Forget about it. Out of sight. Out of mind. At one point in the off-season, I nearly muted the words Paul George on Twitter.

I was expecting a mix of emotions watching George play against the Pacers. Some painful nostalgia of the good times, longing for the good old days of hot shooting, elite defense, dope dunks and deep playoff runs.  Continue reading I don’t miss you, Paul George