It wasn’t quite the reaction of years past was it? More like a ho-hum, nothing-to-see-here moment. No head-scratching bewilderment or venomous anguish.
As NBA Commissioner Adam Silver peered into the camera last Thursday night to announce where the Indiana Pacers’ future was heading, jaws didn’t drop. There was no staged youngster in a Reggie Miller jersey waiting to drum up fake tears for his 15 minutes and a selfie.
Even Twitter was relatively civil. That’s saying something in this day and age.
Remember the 2009 and 2010 drafts? I think we all do. Jeff Teague (insert throat clearing grimace). Paul George, Ringo … why two first names?
“With the 11th pick in the NBA Draft, the Indiana Pacers select … Myles Turner out of the University of Texas.”
For some (and I mean those select few that don’t watch basketball except for the Final Four) the initial response was OK?
For the rest of us, an obligatory nod sufficed. Not necessarily in Kool-Aid guzzling approval, mind you, but in that “sure, it makes sense” rhythmic way.
This kid is a 7-footer or 6-11 depending on who you trust holding the tape measure. And I mean kid at just 19 years old.
To put it bluntly, Turner is a giant among us mortal pick-up game pros. He’s a sought after commodity in any hoops era based on height alone and a McDonald’s All-American two years ago, if you follow the recruiting game.
Out of high school, the once 6-2 grade-schooler was the No. 2 prospect in the nation and highly sought after, keeping us reporters at the game in the dark before he circled back home and picked the Longhorns.
He ran the United Center floor (not quite gracefully) alongside Indianapolis Arsenal Tech’s Trey Lyles and the Windy City’s own Jahlil Okafor as one of the nation’s elite prep ballers.
His backstory was compelling if not a tall tale much like Anthony Davis, who contrary to myth has stopped growing.
Turner once jumped three shoes sizes in two weeks. He actually wanted to be a baseball player, gave football a whirl, but eventually decided basketball was the way to go. His prominence as a hoops prospect took time before he vaulted from relative unknown to prized recruit.
Did I mention he’s still only 19?
His game is a work in progress as anyone who’s seen his highlight reels can attest. He’s certainly light for his size at 240 pounds, can get muscled out of the paint and has a tendency to settle for jumpers — both short and deep — when those of us more vertically challenged would cram it at will, if we could.
But a 7-4 wingspan is nothing to scoff at, nor is the 12.3 block percentage he produced last season to lead the Big 12. He can shoot when comfortable on his own stilts, as his 45.5 percentage from the field shows.
Turner has room to develop, get stronger and grow into his frame. And though unpopular among Pacers fans, having the regressing Roy Hibbert around for one more year, he now has the time to do it.
Destined to be a reserve as a rookie, Turner can now adjust before being thrust into the spotlight where he already seems at ease when listening to him deal with the local media last week.
He isn’t going to replace David West, who opted out of the final year of his three-year $36.6 million contract to test the free-agency market. That’s George’s job, apparently.
He might not be as polished as Lyles, the 12th overall pick to Utah and the 2014 Indiana Mr. Basketball, in the short term, but he’s got towering potential. The type you don’t often find fall into your lap as a lottery pick.
Pacers President Larry Bird and General Manager Kevin Pritchard saw it when they worked him out before the draft. He’s part of a Hibbert-less future, one that requires patience.
Remember, he’s just 19. It will be worth the wait.
Rich Torres is the sports editor for the Daily Reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.