Ten NBA teams passed on Myles Turner at last June’s draft. The Indiana Pacers did not. They selected the 6’11 teenager with the eleventh pick, and although the University of Texas product is still getting adjusting to life as a professional after missing 22-games following surgery on a fractured left thumb, they know they have a solid young piece to build around. In 27-games this season, Turner is averaging 9.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks (including a monster block on LeBron James). Over the last eight games the Pacers have seen their per game block average climb from 4.7 to 6.6, courtesy of Turner.
Turner has proved he will be a formidable presence once he develops his raw talent, but he realizes there’s still work to be done. Starting5online caught up with the young rookie following his team’s 114-100 win over the Nets in Brooklyn, to talk about his rookie season, his development, and of course, that block on LeBron James.
Starting5: Just over the halfway point of your rookie season, is the NBA what you expected it to be?
Myles Turner: It [season] got cut short because I missed about 20 games [but] I’m loving it though, man. I’m having an opportunity to come out and play on a great team, and make an impact right away in my rookie season, so it’s more than I thought it would be.
S5: What’s the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make adjusting to NBA style of play and pace of the game?
MT: Taking care of my body [and] getting my rest. Like, now I’m playing 30 minutes a game – I gotta get my rest, take care of my body …. It’s tough, but I’m getting there.
S5: Is it easier for you being in a small market like Indiana, without heavy scrutiny, to develop your game at your own pace?
MT: Yeah, obviously. You don’t have a lot of stress on you, it’s easier to recover from your mistakes.
S5: How would you assess where you are now? Are you where you thought you’d be development wise?
MT: No, I still have a long way to go. I had a pretty good month of January, but I gotta maintain it for the rest of the season. Past couple of nights have been bad shooting nights, but it’s all about how you recover.
S5: What part of your game do you most want to work on from now until the end of the season?
MT: Getting my defense better. Defense is huge, defense is going to carry me for the rest of my career so [I want to] get to the right spots at the right time.
S5: What’s been your welcome to the NBA moment when you finally realized you’re in the league?
MT: Probably guarding DeMarcus Cousins – that was a tough match-up and showed me I still got a lot of work to do.
S5: Has DeMarcus been your toughest match-up this far?
MT: I would say so.
S5: Lastly, your block on LeBron James the other night got the NBA world talking. Where does that rank among your personal highlights?
MT: That’s definitely number one. When I play like that I energize my team, helps us get momentum, so it’s definitely number one.
Feature Image: Matt_Kryger/The_Star