God help me if I ever again criticize any team for whom they draft. Every time Talkin' Prospects comes around and I learn about the latest could-be Knick pick, I want that guy and I want him NOW. The latest love affair? Texas center Myles Turner. Burnt Orange Nation basketball aficionado Jeff Haley paints a very pretty picture of the Longhorn burgeoning big man.
Turner is one of the best shot blocking centers in college basketball, with a block percentage in the top 20 (recall there are 351 D-I teams and thousands of players). And he can really shoot.
So far this year, he has hit 88% of his free throws and 40% from three point range. So his baseline is as a rim defender who shoots. I think most NBA teams can use that combination.
What areas need improvement?
Right now, he is behind the other top big guys in his class (Okafor, Towns, Alexander) in terms of physical strength. And when he plays against upper classmen it really shows. He gets pushed around some.
But the thing is, it is much easier to get stronger than it is to learn how to shoot.
Being so young, his post game isn't very far along yet. But he faces the basket well, and keeps the ball high, and moves well enough that he can probably develop the footwork over time.
What's been his high point so far this year?
Kind of hard to say. He is so good defensively that even when he hasn't shot the ball well, he has an impact on games. Some of his biggest games have come against overmatched non-conference opponents. Let's see how he does now that Texas is in conference play and all of the opponents are good.
How has he progressed? Is he the same player he was when the season began, or have you seen growth (or regression)?
There are just so few games in a college season that it is hard to say if he has improved. He hasn't regressed. The biggest growth tends to happen from season to season.
Does he remind you of anyone you've seen play?
A lot of Texas fans will reach for LaMarcus Aldridge as a comparison, but I don't think that is very good. Turner is better defensively, and has better shooting range. Aldridge was better with his back to the basket. Overall, at the same age, Turner is the better player, particularly when we factor in defense.
18-year-old big guys who block shots, shoot with 20+ foot range, and sit just outside the top 20 nationally in free throw percentage don't come around that often. I am honestly kind of at a loss.
What can you tell us about his personality? His background? How do you think he'd handle life as a high draft pick and coming to New York?
My impression is based on interviews he and his family have given. Seems like a pretty bright kid whose parents raised him well. I suspect he would handle the money and fame as well as or better than any 18-year-old.
All in all, I have no idea how good Turner will be in the NBA. But it is hard to imagine him failing (assuming he stays healthy) - at a minimum, he seems like a guy who will defend the rim, rebound, and hit open shots. He just has a combination of skills that are so valuable and so advanced for his age.
The real question is if he will develop enough of a post game that a team can run its offense through him. About this I have no idea. But it is so hard to tell this with an 18-year-old.