The Blue & Gold's thin frontcourt is about to get even thinner, as the Indiana Pacers announced Thursday that rookie backup center Myles Turner will be sidelined for "at least four weeks" with a chip fracture in his left thumb.
Indiana's first round draft pick is averaging 6.1 points and 2.9 rebounds on 55.3% shooting in a little over 15 minutes per contest.
With the team's starting center averaging 5.3 fouls per 36 minutes, Turner serves as a much-needed stop gap when Ian Mahinmi is in foul trouble. Indiana's most-used bench unit with Turner anchoring the defense is allowing just 85.6 points per 100 possessions and outscoring opponents by 19.4 points.
Part of that group's success is likely due to the rookie's reliability as both a pick-and-pop and turnaround jump shooter. Connecting on 52.9% of his field goal attempts from between 16 feet and the 3-point line, the No. 11 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft has made a compelling early case for being, as Larry Bird described him, the best shooter on the team.
Without Turner in the rotation, the Pacers will have to look to Jordan Hill and Lavoy Allen to try make up the difference. In 27 minutes of court time, Indiana is allowing 91.2 points per 100 possessions when Hill and Allen are joined on the court by Paul George, George Hill, and Monta Ellis.
With games against the Chicago Bulls, Utah Jazz, and Los Angeles Clippers looming during the period that Turner is expected to be out, the Pacers may be forced to rely more heavily on the spread lineup moving forward -- something head coach Frank Vogel has been hesitant to do against opponents with larger, more traditional front lines.
If the Pacers are in need of emergency frontcourt depth, recalling either Rakeem Christmas or Shayne Whittington from their respective assignments with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants is always an option.