After a thumb injury sidelined Indiana Pacers rookie center Myles Turner for 21 games, his role with the team was a mystery.
The former Longhorn returned to action on Dec. 30, playing limited minutes with the team until a breakout game on Jan. 17. In a three-point loss to the Denver Nuggets, Turner shattered his previous career-high of 10 points by scoring on 11 of 13 field goal attempts.
The rookie then posted 15 points and played a career-high 31 minutes in the subsequent victory over the Phoenix Suns. During a nationally televised game against the Warriors, he bested his career high by scoring 31 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
Turner made his first career start against the Atlanta Hawks last Thursday. This was a significant move for the slumping Pacers, who dropped six of seven games while struggling with a small-ball lineup. When Turner’s name was called, the 19-year-old delivered with a 20-point performance, but his presence on the court made an even larger impact, according to his teammates.
“I like it,” Pacers All-Star forward Paul George told the Indianapolis Star regarding Turner’s role. “It increases our scoring, our rebounding and our whole defensive disposition to have length with two bigs out there.”
The Pacers are 2–1. with Turner starting this season, and it appears that head coach Frank Vogel will continue utilizing the new lineup.
“I think the kid’s earned it,” Vogel said. “It’s glaring to me that we need to increase his role, his minutes, his everything.”