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Myles Turner's ceiling is high for Pacers, can he reach it?

Myles Turner showed how high his ceiling was last season. Now Pacers fans and coaches hope he can deliver on all his promise.

Myles Turner lets out a scream after finishing a layup and getting fouled
Myles Turner lets out a scream after finishing a layup and getting fouled
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

One thing has stayed ingrained in my head throughout this off-season: Myles Turner swatting shot after shot in the Toronto series. He blocked so many shots during those games he now holds the record for most blocks by a Pacers' rookie during a playoff series.

Plays like the one during Game 6 where he’s isolated against DeMar DeRozan. He sags off, smartly daring DeRozan to shoot.  DeRozan drives right into Turner’s chest and forces up a layup. Turner calmly slaps it off the backboard and the Pacers are off and running. It’s those types of plays that can’t make me wait to see Turner again this season. He is a special talent for sure, and it’s certainly not hard to see him improve this upcoming season.

The question becomes, what parts of his game should the Pacers fans be looking for to improve?

On the offensive end, there are a couple of areas Turner could improve if he wants to become a fulcrum in this offense. The first being in the pick and roll. The Pacers used Turner as their roll man heavily. Of all the players who had at least 170 possessions as the roll man, Turner had the third highest frequency after Jason Smith (who would’ve guessed) and Cody Zeller, meaning setting screens and rolling to the rim is an integral part of Turner’s game as he is put in that position a hefty amount.

Yet, Turner was not good at it. He finished dead last in points per possession at .84, and shot the second worst field goal percentage at 41% just beating out Kevin Love for last place. The pick and roll/pop is now the staple in the modern NBA so if Turner wants to take that next step in growing his game it starts with becoming more efficient as the roller. The good news is his turnover percentage was the third lowest and he did a decent job of drawing fouls. With Jeff Teague, the Pacers now have two quality ball-handlers in Teague and Ellis whose games are based around the pick and roll which should help Turner’s growth.

The second part would be becoming more efficient when he posts up. When Turner was posted up he put up .85 points per possession which is solid. He has to show he can maintain that level of efficiency as his touches increase. He also needs to finish at a higher rate when he gets the ball down there, 42% isn’t horrible it’s comparable to Marc Gasol and Blake Griffin, but there is definitely room for growth.

This is where the addition of Big Al Jefferson helps, his back to the basket game is impeccable and his litany of pump fakes, drop steps, and head fakes are some of the best in the game. Hopefully Turner can take a lesson or two from Big Al and develop a more efficient post-game as well as draw more fouls. I understand Turner is at his best when he’s playing off the ball drilling open jumpers or driving past slower big men, and he will never be a heavy post player like Derrick Favors, Greg Monroe, or a prime Big Al. However, developing a solid post-game just adds to his versatility on the offensive end, and the ability to beat defenders multiple ways is how you become a top player in this league.

While the images of Turner slapping shot after shot have stuck with me, a closer look at the numbers reveal Turner wasn’t an elite rim protector like say Rudy Gobert. Opponents were able to finish 50.3% of the time when they met Turner at the rim. Not horrible, but if the Pacers want to maintain a top 5 overall defense he has to be better. Part of the problem may stem from Frank Vogel’s decision to use Turner as a 4 for most of last season. This resulted in him guarding smaller quicker players who could get a step on him and finish not necessarily over him but in front of him. Turner should play a lot more 5 this season as the Pacers look to play faster, and it will be interesting to see if that helps at all.

Turner also needs to improve his rebounding. Vogel even made note of it during the season that rebounding was something Turner needed to work on. Indiana was a middle of the pack rebounding team and that was with them playing two traditional big men most of the time. Now it’s going to be up to Turner to become a board swallower, because nothing was more frustrating than watching Bismack Biyombo and Jonas Valanciunas continually grab offensive rebound after offensive rebound. He probably won’t ever average 14 boards a game like Andre Drummond or Deandre Jordan, but if he can bump his average up to 8 or 9, like LaMarcus Aldridge, a game and increase the number of contested rebounds he grabs it will greatly help the team overall.

Turner showed how high his ceiling is during his rookie season, and if the Pacers hope to be a title contender they are going to need him to reach that ceiling, and fast. (Please Paul George, don’t leave.)