(“The Gallery” is an end-of-season series featuring one uniquely titled still image or video installation for every player that best summarizes or encapsulates that player’s season in a single snapshot. These aren’t highlights, they’re seminal moments expressed through the medium of art placards. Enjoy your tour!)
Power Forward, Age 30
The Sticking Point
Vivint Smart Home Arena
This piece, a minimal still-life prominently featuring cross-matched roles, communicates the way in which a tiny, seemingly harmless, footnote from a blowout victory transformed into a lingering issue with potentially far-reaching implications. With stifling rim protector Rudy Gobert holding fast to his team’s standard drop coverage, Myles Turner drained three-consecutive jump shots as a curtain warmer to the moment captured in The Sticking Point, thereby leading Jazz coach Quin Snyder to call a timeout. Down 14 with 4:09 to play in the second quarter, Gobert emerged from the huddle assigned to Thaddeus Young with Jae Crowder taking the reigns against Turner. Like clockwork, on the very next possession, Indiana stashed Turner in the dunker’s spot and kept on with the same tactic of attempting to pull Gobert into space, only with Young clanking the look wide right.
Thanks in large part to their ability to force turnovers and get easy buckets with Utah shooting a ghastly 8-of-31 from three, the Pacers still managed to coast to a 33-point victory, but Turner was shut out from the action for the remainder of the frame and he only attempted two shots in the second-half before things got out of hand.
It was a mild precursor to what happened in the first round against Boston, when Aron Baynes, or whichever of the two bigs in play was less mobile or the lesser defender, matched-up with Thad instead of Turner, who ultimately finished the series with fewer shot attempts than his elder teammate.
Granted, some of that was a product of Boston’s weakside defenders stunting and pre-rotating to his probable popping location as well as his own limitations. Not to mention switches had a tendency to stall the offense in the hands of the ball-handlers. Still, the dynamic between the two frontcourt partners nonetheless poses an interesting question as to whether Turner’s skills as a stretch-five will ever be fully actualized so long as opposing defensive anchors can skip out on guarding him.
Thad is a rare defender with enough speed to closeout to the perimeter without giving up strength in the interior, he’s selfless, and he provided the team with it’s heartbeat in the aftermath of Victor Oladipo’s season-ending injury. He brings definite value, but the fact remains that he’s a 30-year-old, low-volume 3-point shooter prone to wild month-over-month swings.
Opponents believe they can get away with hiding their behemoth rim protectors on him, and that makes the seemingly insignificant subject of The Sticking Point matter.
It’s up to the front office to determine how much.