Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner joined host Michael Scotto on the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast. Turner discussed his goals for this season, thoughts on his career so far, Rick Carlisle as a coach and person behind the scenes, Malcolm Brogdon’s extension, injury updates on Caris LeVert and TJ Warren, and Chris Duarte’s Rookie of the Year chances.
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1:00 Turner’s goals for this season
Turner: I wanted to be more effective on the glass and use my height and stature to be a better rebounding big. My defense, I want to keep that amped up. I put a lot of work into my shot, as I always do, so I want to be an improved three-point shooter.
For the team, last year was the first time I missed the playoffs. I was hurt the last few games, but that just left a really bad taste in my mouth. Advancing in the playoffs is something that’s huge in my mind this year. We need to get back to being one of the top defensive teams. Coming into Indiana, people knew it was going to be a tough game, and people, I think, feared coming into the arena. We’ve got to get back to that. I feel like we don’t have that same sting that we used to.
I want to be an All-Star in this league. I think I have the talent. I think I’m capable of doing that. I want to continue to improve my numbers. Coming back as an All-Defensive snub and being a Defensive Player of the Year. I feel like I’m snubbed and haven’t gotten the credit I deserve in that department. I’ve led the league in blocks, and that looks good and all, but no All-Defensive Teams, not a lot of consideration for Defensive Player of the Year. That’s the type of stuff that individually I’m looking to get for myself.
3:50 Where Turner thinks he ranks compared to other centers on defense
Turner: I think the game has evolved so much that my position has to be able to guard not just post and big men but people on the perimeter. I think that’s something I do pretty well, especially when I get switched out there and have to guard the pick-and-roll. I think I’m one of the better defenders in this league as far as my position. I’m versatile on defense. I’m not just a perimeter defender. I’m not just a shot blocker. There are different facets of my game that I think set me apart a little bit.
4:40 Turner’s thoughts on his career so far
Turner: I’ve gotten to the point where I’m somebody that’s respected in this league and who’s known in this league, but I haven’t hit that next step yet or level. I still feel like I have time to get there. I think the best is yet to come. I’ve been in this league going on seven years now, and I’ve left my mark on some aspects of the game, but I still have a lot more of an ascension and a lot longer to go. I feel like I’ve had a decent career so far, but I’m nowhere where I want to be or where I think I can get to.
6:20 Turner’s long-term career goals
Turner: I think I came into a position where I was able to start right away my rookie year, and I was thrust into a role as opposed to being a star player or a focal point on a team. I think I have the capability of doing such, whether that’s here or somewhere else. I still have more years on my contract here in Indiana, and I think everyone knows how much I love being in Indiana. When it’s all said and done, I want to be known for being one of the most tenacious defenders out there. That’s something that means a lot to me. Getting that All-Star tenure. Once you get your foot in the door, I feel like it’s a lot easier to make those teams and keep yourself in that conversation. And whether it’s making a huge playoff run or being a championship contender, getting that first taste of real playoff basketball. I haven’t been outside the first round yet, so that’s another thing I’m looking forward to.
8:35 How would Turner describe Rick Carlisle behind the scenes as a person and as a coach?
Turner: He’s a different dude. He’s very locked and dialed in when it comes to basketball. He’s a very cerebral guy. With that, he has a little bit of quirkiness to him. It’s just kind of what makes him, him. I think if you didn’t know anything about Rick, and I knew a lot about him coming from talking to former players and being in Dallas and knowing his background, but if you never met him before, you’d start having a conversation with him and think he’s socially awkward, but it’s not that. He’s just a constant thinker who’s thinking ahead all the time. He’s an interesting guy. He really knows his stuff when it comes to basketball and the Xs and Os. He’s one of the better coaches I’ve had at that. Behind the scenes, he has expectations. He’s going to let you do your thing, but he has an expectation you come in and play your hardest every single day. He doesn’t slouch on the little stuff.
10:00 What’s it been like for Turner and the Pacers having three coaches in three seasons?
Turner: I think for many guys, it can be discouraging, but it’s only as deep as you let it get. The way I look at it is you’ve got another coach coming in here with all these different schemes. I think that makes you a better player when you have all these different coaches who approve the game in a different way, and you take that with you. There’s still stuff from Nate McMillan I applied to today. There’s stuff from Frank Vogel that he taught me as a rookie that I applied to today. I take the positive from it. Obviously, it’s a negative of not having any consistency.
11:10 Malcolm Brogdon’s extension
Turner: Malcolm’s my guy. I feel like he wanted to be here. You’re going to hear those (trade) rumors year in and year out. I should know. I feel like I’m always in a trade rumor every summer. I think Malcolm really wants to be here and be a part of the organization. I’m glad they were able to get it done and be able to secure a long-term point guard for the future and one of the most underrated point guards in the league. I think he’s a very consistent player and one of the leaders on this team as well.
12:20 Turner on trade rumors
Turner: Three years ago was the first time it really kind of got to me because I’d see it all the time, and people were saying it was a sure thing. It was like, every time I opened up my phone, I saw my name there. At one point, I was like I loved the attention. The second time, it can be overwhelming for a younger player because you think you have some comfortability in a city and you could get moved at any time, and you see situations like that across the league all the time. You’ve got to go out there and take control of your own destiny. If you get traded, so be it. Go out there and kill it. If you stay with your organization, come out and show them why they paid you. You can make it an ego thing, but this is a business at the end of the day. The organization is going to do what’s best for the organization. They’re not inclined to care about your feelings in a sense. Now that I see myself in these rumors all the time, it’s just like another day for me. It’s like, “Oh, what else is new?”
14:15 Can a frontcourt with Domantas Sabonis work?
Turner: I think that me and Domantas play fine together. There were questions defensively, but he’s done a great job of guarding the perimeter, and I’m going to do what I do in the paint. Offensively, it was a lot harder on me than it was on him because I had to learn how to play differently. I could shoot the ball, but I never actually played on the perimeter itself. I had to learn positioning, when to cut, when to space, when to spot up. I didn’t get that overnight. It was a big learning curve for me. I’m more comfortable with it now that I’ve done it the past couple of years… We have times where we’re staggered quite a bit. Coach Carlisle gives us time where I’m the five and he’s the five.
17:50 How has Caris LeVert looked in his return and what can his return mean for Indiana’s ceiling?
Turner: Caris has hit the ground running. I thought he hadn’t missed a beat. He’s been out there and made some crazy plays for us. It’s been obvious when he hasn’t been out on the floor. Us not having that playmaker that he is. He has a calmness to his game, and he’s one of the better one-on-one players I’ve seen as well. That fits our game. If we don’t have that guy that can break down defenses and create for others or himself, it’s going to turn into a long season. Having him, Malcolm, and even TJ (Warren), we’d be a very dangerous team because you never know who’s going to go off any given night. I’m very interested to see what this team looks like when it’s fully healthy.
19:05 TJ Warren’s expected return date
Turner: We thought he was going to be ready to start the season, but he had his setback. It’s hard for us as individuals to put a timetable on it because it’s really all based on how he feels and how his scans come back. It’s been positive so far. He just got his boot off, which was a huge accomplishment for him to walk around on his own weight. The aspect that casual fans won’t realize is this man hasn’t played basketball in a year and a half, two years damn near. Even when he is cleared to play — the process of him getting back in basketball shape and playing within a new system where the last time he played was in a system two coaches ago — there’s going to be an adjustment for him.
21:56 Chris Duarte’s impact and Rookie of the Year chances
Turner: No disrespect to any other rookies right now, but I’d say Chris has firmly put himself in the Rookie of the Year conversation. He plays with this confidence that I saw him play with in the Summer League, and he carried it right over into training camp and into the game. The way he plays, he has no fear. I think he’s someone that’s been talked about for a while now. Him being 24 years old, he has some poise and a calmness about him that you don’t see a lot from rookies coming in. He doesn’t play too fast, and he gets to his spots. He’s someone who’s going to be important for us down the stretch. I think he’s one of the better rookies in the league. All the other guys get the hype just because of the social media and the markets they’re in, but I think Chris deserves all the praise he’s getting and more.
22:45 Pacers outlook for the season
Turner: It’d be very easy for me to sit here and say we’re a playoff team or a top Eastern Conference team. The reality is I don’t know the answer to that question. I’d like to think we’d be a competitive team, but when you have all that talent on the floor at one time, it’s not about who’s the most talented team. There are plenty of teams where you’d look on paper, and talent-wise you’d think they’re the best team in the NBA, but it’s about who’s going to be the best team. That’s what coach Rick has been harping on us all year.
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You can follow Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) and Myles Turner (@Original_Turner) on Twitter.