Myles Turner has a beautiful mind.
There is an intelligence and thoughtfulness that ring out more than his symmetrical sculpted Greek God body that encompasses nearly 7-feet and 240 pounds. He is enthusiastic, curious and decisive. Despite his boundless physical gifts, it is the power of his mind that sets him apart from his contemporaries.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been any extraordinary basketball men before him, nor is it a knock on anyone else’s intelligence or vision for themselves. Turner is a basketball outlier in his draft class—a hybrid big man who is ready to adapt to any demands the game has for him, thanks to a profound combination of body and mind.
He believes there is no secret to his makeup. “It’s all my parents,” Turner says, proudly. “They raised me to always conduct myself in a professional manner while going out and showing people who I am by expressing myself. My parents raised me to be who I am—I have a lot of growth left. I’m 19 years old and still discovering myself.”
Watching Turner perform on the court can be breathtaking at times—to see a man of his stature move with ease and grace while performing guard-type movements is extraordinary. This is where the game is heading, if it isn’t planted there already.
Speaking to him is just as fascinating. The Bedford, TX, native listens intently to every single word before articulately formulating a genuine answer with laser-sharp eye contact—attributes that are uncommon at this stage for many.
Turner’s agent—20-year vet Andy Miller—has represented dozens of top NBA players during his career, from Kevin Garnett to Chauncey Billups, and even he is in awe.
“I find him already positioned to become the ultimate professional,” Miller says. “The areas of his maturity, focus and inability to be distracted—I find it uncanny. I’ve never seen it before in a 19-year-old. He has a confidence, not arrogance, and he is very patient. His parents did a great job raising him—he seems to have the total package without any prompting or prepping. There is an awareness to him that you just don’t teach and that’s the thing I find most impressive about him overall.”
It’s mid-June and some of the League’s most prominent management executives have descended upon Sin City for the biggest pre-draft workout of the 2015 NBA Draft. As the temperature dial nears 100 degrees, the power brokers begin to roll into the air conditioned confines of Joe Abunassar’s Impact Basketball gym—Phil Jackson, Sam Presti, Bob Myers, Mitch Kupchak, Sam Hinkie and Masai Ujiri are among the attendees. Coaches Derek Fisher, Flip Saunders, Dwayne Casey and Lakers owner Jim Buss have even made the trek to the desert—every NBA team is represented.
About 20 NBA prospects will work out—the main attraction is the final session of the day that features Turner and Latvian sensation Kristaps Porzingis, staging his one and only workout on US soil.
The players in the first two groups look good, but the level of intensity and concentration in the building rises when Turner and Porzingis take the floor. The trainers begin with instruction and twin-towers from opposite parts of the world start the biggest job interview of their lives. Turner’s grace and skill are quickly apparent. He has a beautiful high release with range stretching out to the NBA three-point line. His consistency on jumpers from 15-20 feet from various platforms across the court evokes a classic LaMarcus Aldridge comp. The footwork in the post is swift and natural, finishing with clean running hooks and shots off the glass.
The workout moves to the pick-and-roll stage and this is where Turner clearly translates at the next level. His combination of length, handles and shooting range make him a nightmare to deal with in the P&R game. There were several instances in the workout where it seemed as if everyone was witnessing the workout of two highly skilled European big men—that’s truly a nod to how nice Turner’s game is. He has the cerebral and fundamental skills often seen in Euro bigs, fused nicely with instincts and an unreal athleticism and agility for a man his size. That’s what Turner wants to prove more than anything—he can run up and down the court quickly, filling lanes and finishing on a consistent basis. To display his versatility, Turner dribbles the full length of the court, completing transition dunks so scouts get a solid feel for his natural movement up and down the hardwood within open space. He does not disappoint, closing ground on 94-feet in very few steps, ending the drill with a nice Scottie Pippen signature up-and-under slam that is Dunk Contest worthy.
Afterward, as Turner conducts several on-court interviews with media, he’s soaking wet in sweat and adrenaline, pounding water in between questions. “I think it went well and I was able to go out and showcase the stuff I’ve been working on for the past two months,” Turner says. “I didn’t notice all the people in the stands, but I knew they would be here. I have much more that I can showcase with teams individually. I think overall it was a success.”
Last year at the Nike Hoop Summit, Turner heard the chirping.
There was some discussion going around about his awkward running style and potential for future injuries due to his gait. Turner was surprised and baffled at the news, but he took a proactive approach following his freshman campaign at Texas. After huddling with Miller, long-time trainer Ken Roberson and his father Ken about the issue, Turner scheduled an evaluation at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Following extensive testing, Turner was found to have no issues. The hospital provided a detailed 27-page report, sent to every NBA team, stressing that Myles was completely healthy but needs to improve strength in his core and glutes as he continues to fill out his frame. “This is really about me growing into my body, getting acclimated to the way that I’m growing,” says Turner, a late bloomer who stood at 6-2 as an eighth grader. “I’m getting stronger and that’s probably the most important thing for my body as I develop. The visit was to give everyone assurance that there is nothing to see here—that’s really what the point was. I let the teams know that I am ready to go and there are no adjustments that I need to undertake medically.”
The transition his body has made since the final game of his freshman year at Texas has been remarkable—physically it appears that everything has aligned for him at the best possible time. He’s faster, more agile and sleek. At Texas, he was primarily used to initiate offense on the perimeter, far from the basket, but Turner is most comfortable in the post, either facing up or backing down defenders, and he is eager to show it. “You need to be adaptable in today’s NBA moving forward,” Turner says. “The norm now is players that can defend and play multiple positions. I think I have a strong ability to do that. I pride myself on being able to play more than one position.” Turner’s versatility as a stretch big man and rim protector—he led the Big 12 in blocks last season with 2.7 per—is heavily valued by NBA lottery teams and scouts from the analytics community. His game clearly translates at the next level as he projects much better as an NBA player than a collegian, where he posted per-game averages of 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds and earned Big 12 freshman of the year honors.
Off the court, there may not be a more prepared rookie when it comes to the rigors of the pro life—Turner has zero character concerns and is confident he can adapt to any situation due to his roots and preparation at UT. He is a young man who is extremely comfortable in his own skin and is not easily influenced by his peers. It’s a healthy confidence that allowed him to thoroughly enjoy his time in Austin as a student-athlete, where he was fond of riding his bike on campus and spending time at the lake or amid hip parts of downtown. He already misses his college town and intends on residing there during his offseasons, eventually planning to go back to school to earn his degree after he completes a few NBA seasons.
While Turner’s personality and outlook is unique in today’s NBA, there is no reason to be alarmed from a passion standpoint—this is an elite basketball player with a love for the game. He’s not worried about fitting in or earning the respect of his new teammates—adaptation is what Turner prides himself on. It’s practically guaranteed.
“I think I will be able to make the NBA transition just fine,” Turner says with a smile. “As far as the locker room goes, I will find the right veteran to learn from and I’ll do whatever it takes to succeed.”