At the beginning of January, Indiana Pacers rookie center Myles Turner was a backup center returning from a thumb injury. His role, potential and minute distribution were all unclear at that point.
Last week, Turner was awarded Kia Rookie of the Month honors for the Eastern Conference.
Turner’s recognition ends a streak for New York Knicks power forward and Latvian sensation, Kristaps Porzingis, who had earned Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month honors for the first three months of the season. Elsewhere in the league, Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves center and the first overall pick of the 2015 NBA draft, continued his sweep of the Western Conference honors, winning his fourth-straight Rookie of the Month award.
In February, shortly after Turner moved into a starting role with the Pacers, the 19-year-old center from Texas averaged 13.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. He posted his first two career double-doubles, shot 51 percent from the floor, and converted his first career 3-point shot all in the same month.
Turner’s top scoring performance in February was 24 points to propel his Pacers over Porzingis’ Knicks. He also recorded a career-high 13 rebounds in a win over the Lakers and a career-high six blocks in a win over the Thunder.
“Preciate [sic] all the love! Honored and humbled by this award! [Shoutout] to my squad though, for putting me in great position to achieve this feat,” Turner tweeted after earning the Rookie of the Month honors.
Turner, a hopeful to make the NBA All-Rookie Team at the close of the season, ranks seventh in points, eighth in rebounds,and third in blocks per game among all first-year players. With these averages, Turner looks to become the first Pacer to be selected to the All-Rookie Team since teammate Paul George earned a spot in 2011. He is also aiming to be the first former Texas Longhorn player to earn the honor since Tristan Thompson in 2012.
Turner’s Indiana Pacers sit at seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 34–30 record. They are currently holding onto their playoff position by one game with 19 games to go. Turner will likely play a large role going forward with Indiana, which allotted him 29.8 minutes a game during February.
“Experience is the best teacher,” Turner told the Indianapolis Star. “Getting comfortable with it this part of the season, it’s only going to grow before playoff time.”