NBA Position: Center
- Prototype Size and Length (9’4” Standing Reach, 7’4” Wingspan) for an NBA Center
- Soft Shooting Touch: Good Mechanics With High, Quick, Smooth Release
- Excellent Free Throw Shooter: Potential NBA Range on Shot
- Go-To Move: Turnaround Jump Shot Over Right Shoulder
- Weak side Rim Protection, Rotation Timing as Backline Defender
- Defensive Rebounding: Box Out Awareness, Attacking the Ball in the Air Utilizing Length
- High Energy Level/Motor
Turner has excellent size and length measurables for an NBA center at almost 7 feet with a 9’4” standing reach to contest shots at the rim. While his frame isn’t tremendously imposing due to a lack of strength, he has the height and length coveted at the position.
Turner is a rare analytical darling possessing the two skills most coveted in NBA big men today: floor spacing and rim protection. Turner has a soft shooting touch and smooth stroke, possessing good mechanics with a high, quick release. Turner did not shoot a great percentage in college, and every time I watched him he missed most of his shots, but the shooting upside is there. Free throw percentage is usually a strong indicator of shooting upside, and Turner really excelled at the line. He also demonstrated range out beyond the college three-point line, and it’s reasonable to assume once he gets acclimated Turner will have credible mid 30% NBA three-point range. He’ll be a credible pick and pop target and face-up jump shooter from the off with his high/quick release, enabling him to get shots off quickly before closeouts arrive. Turner has an NBA-ready go-to move on the block with a quick turnaround jumper over his right shoulder. He has also shown the ability to flash to the high post, collect himself and get midrange shots off effectively.
Rounding out the analytical appeal, Turner showed excellent promise in college as a backline rim protector, possessing instinctive timing rotating across the paint to challenge shots at the rim and knowing precisely when to leave his man to do so. He also demonstrated the ability to recover from the perimeter and alter shots at the rim with his combination of straight-line speed and instincts.
Lastly, Turner was a plus rebounder on both ends, utilizing his length well to high point balls on the glass to overcompensate for his lack of strength. He shows good understanding in identifying players to box out, even though he sometimes can’t hold position. Given his overall high energy level and motor on the court, Turner projects as a willing threat on both the offensive and defensive glass, the former where he uses his length to keep balls active.
- Lacks Fluidity Mobility Wise: Awkward Running Style Spawns Health Concerns
- Not An Explosive Athlete, Especially Finishing in Traffic
- Lack of Lower Body Strength/Girth: Gets Moved Around On the Glass
- Foot Speed Laterally: Big Feet Negates Short Area Quickness
- Not a Stiff, But Not a Shifty Defender in Space on the Perimeter, Especially in Pick and Roll
- Lack of Post Footwork and Ability to Carve Out Space: Shot Selection
- Feel for the Game as a Passer (Poor Assist Rate): Can He Attack Closeouts?
- Foul Rate: Challenges Out not Up
There are several question marks with Turner, none more notable than his mobility and running style. While Turner is not a total stiff he lacks fluidity running on the court with a laboring style. There has been much ado about the health ramifications of Turner’s running style on his legs, and Turner has taken some steps to make his health status transparent. Still, Turner did not run a lot on the break at Texas, providing some anxiety surrounding his ability to stay healthy in higher-pace NBA offenses.
In terms of physical profile, Turner has excellent size and length, but he’s not an explosive athlete or jumper. This is evident seeing Turner attempt to finish in traffic over length and try to block shots at the apex. He just doesn’t have that explosiveness as a jumper, despite getting off the ground fairly quickly. Strength-wise, Turner has a ways to go before he can bang down low with more physical NBA players. He gets moved too easily when attempting to box out and as a post defender due to his inability to leverage position with a lack of technique and lower body strength. He needs to add another 10 or 15 pounds of muscle and learn how to leverage his body or NBA bigs will move him around.
Turner is fairly fast in straight-lines, especially when he gets going, but he’s not especially agile laterally. Due to size 21 shoes Turner does not have great foot speed with his big feat inhibiting his short area lateral quickness. As touched on above, he’s not a stiff, but he’s not an especially shifty mover either, raising questions about his ability to defend on the perimeter in the NBA, especially in pick and rolls. He does not project to be particularly effective showing on guards and walling off penetration, and is unlikely to ever tactically outright switch onto perimeter players. Because of these limitations moving on the perimeter, he projects better as a 5 than a 4.
My two biggest unknowns with Turner (just because we didn’t see a lot of it at Texas) are his feel for the game and his ability to attack closeouts. As for the former, Turner seems like a smart, hardworking player, but he played rushed most of the times I watched him, forcing quick turnaround shots instead of surveying the defense. His assist rate was incredibly poor and he did not show great awareness in the post, but the small sample size and more importantly his limited role on the team makes it difficult to formulate a strong opinion. In terms of the latter, attacking closeouts and playmaking out of 5 on 4 or 4 on 3 scenarios is imperative at the NBA level, and we did not see a lot of that from Turner. He demonstrated the ability to make shots, but it’s things like reading the defense on the move dribbling the ball towards the rim and making the right pass that really separate bigs in the league today. Both of these aspects are largely unknowns in Turner’s game.
Two areas of his game that Turner can improve are his post up footwork and technique contesting shots. Turner does not show advanced footwork in the post and really does not have any counter moves to compliment his turnaround jumper. Defenses will be able to sit on his right shoulder and force him to his second option, and Turner has not displayed the ability to counter that yet. Often times he often just forces his shot, leading to poor shot selection and hindering his FG%. As for challenging shots, Turner frequently extends his arms out instead of up, leading to a high foul rate. He’ll need to learn verticality in the NBA because with his current tendencies he wont be able to stay on the floor.
Offense: Half-Court Based, Pick and Pop
Until Turner proves he can fill the lanes and stay healthy in a high pace setting he projects better in a half court based system. In the half court, Turner is not the most instinctual passer from what I’ve seen, thus he’ll be more effectively used in a simpler straight-forward pick and roll rub dominated scheme as a pick and pop floor-spacer and occasionally on the block in mismatches where he can used his turnaround jumper.
Defense: Conservative Ice Pick and Roll Scheme, Backline Defender
Due to his lack of short area quickness and the fact you want him closer to the basket to contest shots, Turner fits a more conservative ice pick and roll scheme best where he takes a slightly deeper drop behind the screener. Turner has the recovery speed and length that teams don’t have to employ him in really deep drops, but he’s probably not going to be able to hedge and recover or switch onto guards effectively. He fits best in a system where he’s almost at the level as a screener, and more often utilized as a backline defender to utilize his rim protection (that is when offenses don’t involve him in pick and roll).
Team Fit: Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets just traded for Spencer Hawes and already roster a myriad of front-court players (Big Al, Zeller, Vonleh, Williams), but Turner gives them something they don’t have: a long-term stretch 5 rim protector. Vonleh and Zeller are more hybrid fours, and Hawes can’t play defense. The Hornets under Clifford essentially just control tempo, crash the defensive glass, collapse in the paint with their perimeter players and contain transition to overcompensate for their lack of spacing on offense and rim protection, but that lack of spacing especially makes it almost impossible to have a respectable NBA offense. Pairing Vonleh and Turner long-term at the 4 and 5 affords the Hornets with rare two-way floor spacers who can also protect the rim, clearing space for their shooting deprived best player, MKG, and Kemba to operate in pick and roll. Big Al is a free agent after next season and likely not going to re-sign there, rendering there a long-term need at the 5 as well.
NBA Comparison: Extremely Poor Man’s/Far Less Mobile Serge Ibaka (3-D Type Big)
This is more of an idea then an actual comparison, because Turner is not the super-agile mover or explosive rim protector that Ibaka is. But there are only a handful of stretch bigs who can protect the rim in the league, and Turner could be that rare commodity. Ibaka is essentially a 3&D spot-up shooter without much playmaking ability. Turner could be an inferior version of that with his athletic limitations, while adding a LaMarcus Aldridge turnaround jumper element.
Potential: High Level Starting Center
Turner has a ways to go development wise, but the tools to be an analytics dynamo as a floor spacer and rim protector from the five spot drawing opponent bigs out on the perimeter to create driving lanes are there. I don’t see the post game or shot-creation to ever be an all-star talent, but Turner has high-level starting/role player potential. If his running style issues have been mitigated just the rarity of his skill-set warrants a top 10 selection, as he rests #9 on my board.