Not much has gone right for the Indiana Pacers as of late. They've lost six of their last eight games. They have a penchant for surrendering fourth quarter leads. Paul George's legs, having traveled the seventh-most miles in the NBA this season, look noticeably fatigued. Ian Mahinmi suffered an ankle sprain against the Phoenix Suns and has been out ever since. They are still without their super-sub for the foreseeable future. And having missed 15 of his last 17 attempts from beyond the arc, C.J. Miles is still struggling to put the "J" back in his first name.
There are a lot of reasons for the Pacers to be disappointed about coming home 1-4 from a west coast road trip which featured three opponents below .500, but Myles Turner's play isn't one of them.
Averaging 20.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks on 64.8 percent shooting over the last four games, here are just a few reasons to be excited about Indiana's rookie:
He and Joe Young are on pace to be the best rookie tandem in Pacers NBA franchise history:
Turner and Young have only played in eight regular season games together, but the duo is on pace to post the top combined rookie-season Player Efficiency Rating (PER) in Pacers NBA franchise history.
The Blue & Gold outscore opposing (mostly reserve) lineups by 10.5 points per 100 possessions when their 2015 draft picks share the floor. Whether throwing him lobs, finding him in transition, or using him in pick-and-pop situations, no one has assisted Myles Turner this season more than Joe Young (18).
He's making long twos an efficient shot:
Having missed six weeks of game action with a chip fracture in his left thumb, Turner (369) has played just under 40 percent of the total minutes earned by Ian Mahinmi (930) and Lavoy Allen (931) this season. Yet, even with significantly less run time, the 19-year-old has managed to knock down more shots from between 16-24 feet than either usual starter.
Turner has been so automatic from this distance over the last four games that a long two from Indiana's rookie is worth 1.17 points, more than a Paul George (1.13) or C.J. Miles (0.35) three over that same span of time.
Indiana's rookie still has a lot to learn about playing NBA defense, but he's well-beyond his years when it comes to being a top notch, pick-and-pop shooter. Need proof? Per Player Tracking data, there are 31 centers who have scored at least 50 catch-and-shoot points this season. Only four of them are connecting on at least half of their attempts, Myles Turner, at age 19, is one of them.
In today's NBA, long twos are typically taboo, but for Myles Turner: Please do.
He's one of the best 19-year-old shot blockers ever:
There is an added bonus to Turner's sweet spot being located at the top of the key. When he does miss (which is rare), he is already in position to get back on defense and reject his opponent's attempts at the rim, which he is doing at an historic rate.
According to basketball reference, Turner is blocking 6.1 percent of opponent field goal attempts while on the floor. Only five other plays in NBA history have blocked shots at that clip or better at age 19.
Having racked up three defensive goaltending violations over Indiana's four game road trip, Turner still needs to iron out the kinks in his timing. But his knack for blocking shots is unprecedented. No other teenager in Pacers NBA franchise history has ever recorded a higher block percentage.
He's more efficient than most of the rookies drafted ahead of him:
This scatterplot shows all the players that were drafted ahead of Myles Turner last June. With several established veterans on the roster, Turner doesn't shoulder the same offensive burden as several of his fellow rookies. But, of those using at least 20 percent of their team's possessions while on the court, he is the most efficient.
Willie Cauley-Stein (60.4%) has a slightly higher true shooting percentage than Turner (59.3%); however, he is predominantly feasting on dunks and rim running. Turner's average field goal distance (11.2') is nine whole feet greater than the former Wildcat's (2.2').
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Turner's need to put on strength was exposed Saturday night in Sacramento, as the still-teenager's slimmer body struggled to hold his spot against the more imposing 270-pound frame of DeMarcus Cousins, as he poured in 48 points. On the year, the 6-foot-11 rookie is only grabbing 4.0 rebounds per game, and he's surrendering 1.03 points per possessions (PPP) on post-up plays, a significant drop-off from Ian Mahinmi's allowance rate (0.69).
Even so, at 19-years of age, Turner's statistical compendium provides far more reasons to be encouraged about his and the team's future than to be downtrodden. In the midst of the Blue & Gold's worst stretch of the season, Indiana's rookie has been a rare bright spot. Having missed 22 games this season, Turner may not be among the rookies and sophomores chosen to compete on All-Star Friday night in Toronto, but that should not stop him from being perceived for what he is, a possible Rising Star.