At the beginning of January, Indiana Pacers rookie center Myles Turner was a backup center returning from a thumb injury. His role, potential and minute distribution were all mysterious at that point.
Two months later, Turner was awarded with Kia Rookie of the Month honors for the Eastern Conference.
The Rookie of the Month award, which is given to players from both conferences, was presented to the same two big men for the first three months of the season. While Karl-Anthony Towns, a number one overall pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves, continues to sweep Western Conference honors, Turner ended the Rookie of the Month streak for New York Knicks Latvian sensation Kristaps Porzingis.
In February, shortly after Turner moved into a starting role with the Pacers, the 19-year-old from Texas averaged 13.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. Last month, he posted his first two career double-doubles, shot 51 percent from the floor and converted his first career 3-point shot.
Turner’s top scoring performance of February was 24 points to propel the Pacers over Porzingis’ Knicks. He also recorded a career-high 13 rebounds in a win over the Lakers and a career-high six blocks in a win over the Thunder.
“Preciate [sic] all the love! [H]onored and humbled by this award! [Shoutout] to my squad though, for putting me in great position to achieve this feat!” Turner tweeted after earning the Rookie of the Month honors.
Turner, a hopeful to make the All-Rookie team at the close of the season, ranks seventh in points, eighth in rebounds, and third in blocks per game among all first-year players. With these averages, Turner looks to become the first Pacer to be selected to the All-Rookie team since teammate Paul George in 2011. He also is aiming to be the first Longhorn alumnus to earn the honor since Tristan Thompson in 2012.
The Pacers sit at seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 34-30 record. They are currently holding onto their playoff position by one game, with 19 games to go. Turner will likely play a large role going forward with Indiana, who allotted him 29.8 minutes a game during February.
“Experience is the best teacher,” Turner told The Indianapolis Star. “Getting comfortable with it this part of the season, it’s only going to grow before playoff time.”