DALLAS—When the Mavericks lost to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday at American Airlines Center, most of the crowd left disappointed.
But for the 85-100 people there to see Pacers rookie Myles Turner – a Bedford native, Euless Trinity product and the 11th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft – play his first NBA game in Dallas, the day was a success.
Turner, only nineteen, finished with fifteen points, seven rebounds and one block in nineteen minutes as the Pacers sent the Mavs to a fifth straight defeat.
Naturally, Turner’s parents were among those in attendance and were shown several times on the Pacers TV broadcast on Fox Sports Indiana. And the young ex-Longhorn admitted postgame that Saturday was a date he’d had circled for some time.
“This was a big deal to me. I wanted to come back home and make sure I played well in front of the people that supported me my entire career, so yeah, this was circled on my calendar [from the day the schedule came out],” Turner said.
In forty-four games, Turner is averaging 10.7 points and 5.1 rebounds. He just finished a February where he averaged 13.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and shot 51 percent from the field, earning NBA Rookie of the Month honors. But the affable young big is still focused on a bit more prestigious award – NBA Rookie of the Year.
Most have already called the race over, stating that Karl-Anthony Towns, the former Kentucky standout who went first overall in the ’15 draft to the Minnesota Timberwolves, has the award all but sewn up with the strong numbers he’s posted up in the Twin Cities. However, Turner channels his inner Lee Corso in basically saying “not so fast my friend”.
“It’s something I’m pushing for,” Turner said of the award. “Hopefully it’s realistic. I did miss a lot of games, but I want to come out there and I’m still pushing for it.”
One thing’s for sure, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel feels Turner is definitely worthy of consideration. Vogel’s been surprised by Turner’s maturity, approach, work ethic and just how quickly he has learned what it takes to be a successful two-way player in the NBA, something the defensive-minded Vogel expects from his entire roster. But Vogel has been equally impressed with how Turner was able to push his way through a recent small stretch of tough games.
“Hard work, confidence in himself, belief in himself [is how he worked through it],” Vogel said. “We hit a stretch where we were struggling and he had a couple really good games. That led us to really increase his role. When his minutes went up, his production went up.”
But maybe the ultimate example of Turner’s maturity as a rookie showed in this quote from the Pacers locker room after such a big road win. “We’re trying to make a serious playoff push right now, so the fact that we could come in here and take care of business, it was great,” Turner said.