By this time next week, Myles Turner will be a member of an NBA franchise and the latest Texas Longhorn to hear his name called in the first round of the NBA Draft. This was to be expected in today’s one-and-done era, especially after Turner landed in Austin as ESPN’s No. 2 overall recruit, immediately stemming discussions surrounding Turner’s "upside" – a term NBA general managers make life and death decisions over. The preceding hype was soon followed by what could be considered an underwhelming freshman season, but potential reigns supreme in the NBA Draft and Turner’s unique skill-set as a 6-foot-11 stretch forward certainly provide plenty of that.
This same potential, which Turner displayed in spurts on both ends of the court at Texas, has led to the 19-year-old being viewed as a consensus lottery pick. That said, here’s a look at what whichever NBA franchise calls the reigning Big 12 Freshman of the Year’s name on draft night will be getting in Turner.
Strengths: Offensively, Turner is still a considerably raw product and leaves much to be desired, but that only speaks to his tremendous potential, as he’s still one of the most offensively skilled big men in the draft. Despite standing at a towering 6-foot-11, Turner’s staple is his ability to stretch the floor and knock down mid-range jumpers, and even extend his range out to the perimeter at times. Turner’s versatility as a shooting big man with a quick, high release makes him an option as a spot-up shooter and in pick and pop situations.
Turner moves well without the ball, especially flashing to the high-post, which will aid in finding the soon-to-be rookie scoring opportunities as he looks to establish himself on an NBA roster. He’ll need to continue working towards establishing a low-post presence and adding a variety of moves to his arsenal, but Turner does boast an impressive turnaround jumper over his right shoulder.
Despite his rare shooting touch for a big man, it’s quite arguable that Turner’s most impressive feature is his free throw shooting, as he knocked down attempts at an 83.9 percent clip – a remarkable number for virtually anyone, much less a near 7-footer.
Turner’s athleticism was previously considered as area of his game needing improvement, but he certainly appears to have added a bit more explosiveness in his NBA Draft workout video.
Weaknesses: As noted, Turner is still fairly raw offensively after his lone season at Texas, but what 19-year-old big man isn’t with the exception of Jahlil Okafor? Turner’s offensive strength is widely considered to be his shooting touch, but he could certainly afford to add some more consistency to his jumper. Also as noted, Turner has that turnaround jumper over his right shoulder that he loves so much, but he has a very limited offensive repertoire outside of that move. This, in large, could be credited to Turner not being a fan of contact, evidence of his struggles to establish post-position on countless occasions.
Another area of concern, and likely a hand-in-hand result of his interior struggles is Turner’s habit of hovering around the perimeter and settling for too many jump shots. Obviously, his shooting touch is his strength, but Turner’s size and length with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and 9-foot-4 standing reach will give him an advantage on just about every power forward he matches up with in the NBA. He’ll likely always be a jump shooting stretch-four, but as he adds some much needed strength and ultimately, some toughness, Turner will have to find a way to integrate some low post offense into his game.
Turner's efficiency and willingness as a passer is also an area of his game needing a significant facelift. When Turner gets the ball, it often seems as if he’s made his mind up that he’s going to shoot, regardless of the traffic he finds himself in or how open his teammates may be. The result – only 20 total assists in 739 minutes as a Longhorn. When he does show a willingness to dish the ball elsewhere, he’s often put himself in a poor position and forces a bad pass, which points towards his 6.4 assists percentage vs. a 12.5 turnover percentage.
Strengths: While his offensive backbone is his shooting touch, Turner’s staple defensively is unquestionably his rim-protection. Turner boast great timing and instincts around the rim, which ultimately led to the freshman leading the Big 12 in shot rejections at 2.6 per game. Even more impressive is how those numbers jumped to 4.7 per 40 minutes played, which only strengthens Turner’s case as a high-upside two-way player in the NBA. Turner also rotates well from the weak side and even when he doesn’t register a block, his length alone causes issues and alters shots.
Turner’s ability as a rebounder is also well worth noting. This can’t be so easily seen with his per game average of 6.5, but Turner works hard on the glass, has good rebounding instincts and does a great job of finding a body and boxing out, which is an undervalued but essential part of being an effective rebounder in the NBA. Per 40 minutes, Turner averaged 11.8 boards as a freshman.
Weaknesses: Just as with his offense, Turner will need to improve his strength as a defender in the post. If he doesn’t, he’ll find himself get backed into the restricted area and having to contest point blank looks after getting bullied on a back down. Turner struggles in defending the pick and roll, as he’s not very quick laterally and needs to improve his patience and decision-making when it comes to knowing when to switch. Turner also has a tendency to bite on far too many pump fakes, and often bites of fakes that are out of his man’s shooting range. As a result, Turner compiled 4.3 fouls per 40.
Mechanics: Finally, of course, are the concerns with Turner’s awkward running motion and mechanics. But as noted by Wescott Eberts, the issues with Turner’s left knee and gluteus medius muscles won’t be a long-term issue with the appropriate workouts, which has been the major concern about drafting the 6-foot-11 big man.
Where Might Turner Land?
If Turner doesn’t hear his name called before the lottery comes to a close, it would be a huge surprise. Turner has impressed in draft workouts, put some of the long-term concerns with his mechanics to rest and has as much two-way potential as anyone in the entire draft. Some mocks have slotted Turner has high as No. 8 to the Detroit Pistons, while others have him at No. 10 to the Miami Heat, No. 11 to the Indiana Pacers and No. 13 to the Phoenix Suns – the most likely candidate for Turner.