Turner proving role as star center in second return to Dallas

December 11, 2016


Amanda Hair

Pacers forward Myles Turner looks on in Indiana’s 111-103 loss to the Mavericks on Friday night. Turner has become a rising star for Indiana in his second season in the NBA.

DALLAS — Myles Turner was not your typical 17 year old.

At seven feet tall, 240 pounds, it is safe to say he towered over everyone at Euless Trinity and on the basketball court, where he starred for the Trojans, averaging 18 points per game as a senior in the 2013-2014 year.

So on Feb. 18, 2014, when Coppell took down Trinity 47-43 in the bi-district round of playoffs, it was a major upset.

Two years and 10 months later, Turner returned to Dallas for the second time as an NBA player. Although he took the 111-103 loss to the Mavericks at American Airlines Center on Friday, it is clear Turner is headed towards stardom.

The big man was a five-star recruit, rated as one of the top five high school prospects in the nation. He spent one year at the University of Texas, where he earned Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors, averaging 10.1 points per game and 2.6 blocks per game.

After being selected by Indiana Pacers and their president Larry Bird with the 11th pick in the 2015 draft, Turner battled through injuries his rookie year, but still managed to earn a spot on the NBA all-rookie second team. He cemented his role as one of the top forwards in that organization for years to come.

“He was one of the biggest steals in the draft in many, many years by Larry Bird,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s terrific.”

This year, Turner has truly grown into his role as one of the leaders of the Indiana team. He is the Pacers’ premier offensive option inside, averaging 14.8 points per contest, and he is second only to superstar small forward Paul George with 7.2 rebounds per game.

In the teams’ first matchup this season on Oct. 26, Turner dominated the Mavericks both offensively and on the glass, putting up a career-high 30 points and also adding 16 rebounds in the Pacers’ 130-121 victory over Dallas in Indiana.

Pacers center Myles Turner gets to the rim against the Mavs’ Salah Mejri in Dallas’ 111-103 win over Indiana. Turner recorded 18 points and six rebounds in the loss.

But it was a much different story for Turner in his second career game home in Dallas. From outside the paint, Turner went 5 of 8 in the teams’ first meeting. On Friday night, he was 0 for 3.

“We just tried to run him off the line, tried to break his rhythm,” Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith said. “He’s a great player. It’s tough when the [center] can shoot threes.”

Moreover, Finney-Smith, center Salah Mejri and forward Dwight Powell were able to attack the rim at will, the trio shooting a combined 7 of 8 from the paint, the lone miss coming from a Turner block in the first two minutes of the game. In the early-season loss, Mavericks’ forwards shot 57 percent from the paint.

“Getting in the paint is a point for us, something we always try to do,” Powell said. “Luckily tonight, we were able to make aggressive cuts to the basket.”

Turner, who was held to only six rebounds on the night, is playing on an extremely inconsistent Pacers team, who seems to sway back and forth between the upper-echelon of the Eastern Conference and the middle of the pack.

“We’ve got to be ready to play every night, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Turner said.

Even with the loss, Turner has a bright future ahead of him. From his days of dunking over Coppell players to dunking over players from The Association, his high energy and offensive skillset combined with his length have turned him into a monstrous force that will be problematic for NBA centers for years to come.