For eight seasons, Jermaine O’Neal helped the Indiana Pacers compete year-in and year-out for an NBA championship — going down as one of the best players to ever don the blue and gold. Now in retirement, O’Neal may be looking to once again help out the team in any way he can.
Early Saturday afternoon, O’Neal took to Twitter to reach out to the Pacers’ Myles Turner, stating that he would be interested in working with helping improve Turner’s low-post and mid-range post game this summer, when Turner returned to Dallas, Texas for the offseason. Myles responded to O’Neal’s tweet in what would almost certainly be deemed an agreement on the request.
While it is not officially set in stone and a surefire guarantee, as the NBA offseason is a few more months away and Turner and the Pacers’ main focus remains to be finishing out the 2016-17 campaign, it looks promising that Turner is more than willing to work with O’Neal in improving his play in any way that he can.
After being selected by the Pacers with the 11th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Turner has been touted as one of the biggest steals of his class. He has appeared in 48 games this season, having started in all of those contests. He’s averaging 15.7 points, 2.3 blocks and 7.3 rebounds on nearly 54-percent shooting from the floor this season — all at the age of 20, with plenty of room to grow. It’s also worth noting that his 2.3 blocks rank in at 3rd in the league behind Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert. Last month, team president Larry Bird praised Turner’s growth and ability as a player through nearly two full seasons:
“He plays hard,” Bird said. “He works hard. He wants to be great. He’s going to be great. To me, I think he’s got a chance to be one of the best players or maybe the best player (in the franchise’s history). You still have Paul (George) with a bunch of time left, too, and you had Reggie (Miller) here with all the other great ones. But being a 20-year-old and doing what this kid is doing just blows my mind.”
If Turner can develop to be a consistent player from the post — perhaps the biggest flaw in his game -- he can quickly become one of the best all-around players on Indiana’s roster. During his time with the Pacers, O’Neal’s signature was his play from underneath the basket in the post, so it is refreshing to see him willing to work with and help the young Turner become a formidable force down low.
Currently on a five-game winning streak, the Pacers are trending upward in an Eastern Conference that has it’s top spots up for grabs. With a little over two months away from the seasons finale, the team is going to rely heavily on Turner’s production as they make a push for the postseason. If one thing is sure, however, it is that the Pacers are in great hands for the foreseeable future with both Turner and Paul George.
The Pacers (27-22) defend their home court Saturday night, taking on the Detroit Pistons (23-27). Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm, ET.