NBA

Prodigies: Myles Turner and Zach LaVine

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In the fourth installment of the Prodigies Series, Basketball Insiders takes a look at Myles Turner or the Indiana Pacers and Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Out of all the players included within this series, Myles Turner may be the guy whose game has the most balance. On both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor, Turner excels in numerous categories. Although “hard” stats—such as points and rebounds per game—may not be at the top of this list when compared to his prodigy peers, his efficiency, when compared to his peers, is off of the charts. The second-year man out of Texas seems to be on the verge of really taking off. He has made large scale improvements within his game from his rookie season, and because of this, the versatility and balance that he brings the Pacers is quite evident.

Like Turner, Zach LaVine also has turned heads in Minnesota. The super athletic LaVine is the 2015 and 2016 NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion. However, now in his third year in the league, LaVine has the potential to develop his game into much more than just a high-flyer. There are several parts of his game, if improved, that could generate substantial performance improvement.

Let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of both Turner and LaVine.

Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers 

15.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 53% FG, 79% FT, 43% 3PT (through 40 Games)

STRENGTHS

Versatility – As his numbers are reflecting, Turner is showing the ability to effectively master many parts of the game on both sides of the court. Compared to all of the other players included within this series, Turner’s versatility stands out the most. He ranks in the top half of the league in almost every offensive and defensive category. In some areas, Turner is off the charts. His jumpers off of the dribble, finishes around the basket and offensive rebound put-backs are stellar. Turner ranks in the 100th percentile (in other words, as the best player in the league) in jumpers off of the dribble. In regards to finishes around the rim, Turner ranks in the 95th percentile and with put backs, he is in the 97th percentile. On the defensive end, he is stellar when it comes to isolation defense. He has only allowed 16 points on 35 possessions this season, which ranks him in the 96th percentile of the league in this category.

Moving without the ball – Turner moves fluidly through the Pacers’ offense and effectively finds the open areas down low for dump-offs on his teammates’ drives to the basket. Turner also effectively sneaks behind defenses and uses his length and ability to finish around the rim. He is shooting 68 percent from the field and averages 1.38 points per possession in these situations. That ranks him in the 72nd percentile of the NBA. Off of flash cuts, Turner is averaging 1.14 points per possession and ranks in the 83rd percentile in the league. Turner does a really good job filling open spots on the floor and presenting himself to teammates, whether on hand off pops or screen and pops to the basket. On basket cuts, Turner is in the 72nd percentile in the league, averaging 1.45 points per possession.

Spot Up Opportunities – Turner has scored 95 points on 85 possessions in no dribble catch-and-shoot situations and ranks in the 78th percentile in the league. He is effective on catch-and-shoot opportunities because he has his body to the rim, has good foot work, and does a good job getting his shot off quickly.

Transition Scoring – Turner runs the floor like a guard. He excels by sprinting the lanes on the break and attacks the rim on finishes. He ranks in the 79th percentile in offensive efficiency in transition, averaging 1.26 points per possession. In secondary transition, Turner also does an effective job seeking out trailer scoring opportunities. As the trailer, Turner ranks in the 83rd percentile in the league, is averaging 1.36 points per possession, and is shooting 61% from the field.

WEAKNESSES

Assist to Turnover Ratio – It is hard to find areas in which Turner struggles. However, one area where Turner could improve is with taking care of the ball. Turner’s game is not built around facilitating for his teammates. He generally creates his production through looking to score the ball himself. This being said, Turner could take care of the ball more effectively. Almost halfway through the season, Turner is averaging 0.9 assists and 1.4 turnovers per game. His -.64 A/TO ratio is not terribly concerning, considering his tremendous improvement in all other areas of his game over the course of the past year, but he could stand to improve.

Post Up – Turner has the most room for improvement in the post, where in the half court he is averaging just 0.8 points per possession, scoring 44 points on 55 possessions. Turner is shooting just 38 percent from the field in these situations.

Guarded Jumpers and End of clock – Turner ranks in the 38th percentile on short clock jump shots, scoring 11 points on 17 possessions, where he is shooting only 24 percent. On guarded jumpers in the half court, Turner is also shooting a low percentage (34 percent), ranking in the 22nd percentile in the league.



Zach LaVine,
Minnesota Timberwolves

20.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.0 apg, 47% FG, 86% FT, 42% 3PT (39 Games):

STRENGTHS

Dynamic Transition Scorer – LaVine has a knack for scoring the ball in transition. Overall, he is averaging 1.3 points per possession. He is especially effective from the right side of the court, where he ranks in the 92nd percentile in the league, scoring 42 points on 26 possessions. He ranks in the 75th percentile in scoring efficiency when running the middle of the floor, scoring 18 points on 11 possessions. He also does a solid job pushing the ball in transition as the ball handler. In these situations, he is averaging 67 points on 63 possessions, ranking in the 73rd percentile in the NBA.

Perimeter Shooter – LaVine is a great spot up jump shooter. He has scored 105 points on 78 possessions this season, ranking him in the 89th percentile in the league. He is effectively shooting the ball when left open or when guarded. LaVine currently ranks in the 90th percentile in the league in catch-and-shoot opportunities when left open and when guarded in the half court, shooting 41 percent guarded and 50 percent when left open.

Scoring, Moving without the ball – LaVine does a great job mixing up how he scores the ball in the half court. He uses dribble hand off, screens and cuts to free himself for opportunities. On hand offs, LaVine is shooting 48 percent from the field and ranks in the 80th percentile of the NBA, scoring 138 points on 129 possessions.

Off of the ball, LaVine uses basket cuts to create scoring opportunities around the rim. He ranks in 90th percentile in the league on scoring while coming off cuts. LaVine does a great job using dribble hand offs to create space between himself and his defender. This is also true on dribble hand offs, as LaVine ranks in 81st percentile in the league, scoring 70 points on 64 possessions. Off of screens, LaVine loves to come straight off of the screen for scoring opportunities. Interestingly, like Devin Booker (another prodigy), LaVine shoots the ball more effectively when he is coming off to his left side. Coming off left, he averages 1.38 points per possession, ranking him in the 92nd percentile in the league, while coming off right he averages just .75 points per possession, ranking him in the 23rd percentile in the league.

WEAKNESSES

Transition, Left Lane Finishes – Despite LaVine’s overall stellar transition scoring numbers, he has struggled scoring the ball when operating from the left side of the floor. He ranks in the 30th percentile in the league, averaging just .96 points per possession and scoring 24 points on 25 possessions. In transition from the left side, he shoots just 48 percent from the field.

Isolation from Top of Key – LaVine struggles with efficiency when scoring the ball from top of the key. He is averaging .67 points per possession and ranks in the 22nd percentile of the league in this category. When driving the ball from the top of the key going left, LaVine really struggles, ranking in the second percentile in the NBA. As mentioned above, LaVine is a hard driver right and is most efficient creating going right. When he drives left, LaVine wants to get back to his right hand to finish. Often, this tendency has him shooting back into the defense as opposed to relying upon his left hand around the rim. His efficiency going left will need to improve if he is to improve his performance.

Pick-and-Roll, Right Side of Floor – Pick-and-Roll Ball Handler Refusals – When LaVine turns down ball screens off the dribble, he also struggles. He ranks in the 25th percentile in the NBA in these situations, averaging just .79 points per possession and shooting just 35 percent.  When refusing ball screens, LaVine tries to get all the way to the rim but has only scored 10 points on 12 possessions.

Pick-and-Roll, Right Side of Floor – LaVine ranks in the 11th percentile in the NBA when working off of the right side of the floor in pick and rolls. Again the theme remains, when LaVine is forced to come off to this left hand in these situations, which generally happens in ball screen action taking place on the right side of floor, he struggles. LaVine is posting .61 points per possession in these situations this season, scoring 17 points on 28 possessions.

In the next part of this series, Basketball Insiders will evaluate the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert and The New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis.

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About Jake Rauchbach

Jake Rauchbach

After playing four years of college basketball at Drexel University, Jake Rauchbach coached at the collegiate level, founded The MindRight Pro Program and trained numerous professional and Olympic athletes. Now, Rauchbach writes about the NBA and college basketball for Basketball Insiders and serves as the Player Performance Specialist for Temple University's men's basketball team.