Bulls

Myles Turner approaching NBA with 'strictly business' attitude

mylesturn.png

Myles Turner approaching NBA with 'strictly business' attitude

When Texas freshman Myles Turner hears his name called in the first round of the NBA Draft on June 25, don't expect a scene.

He'll walk up to the podium in a clean-cut suit - no bow ties or loud colors - and will shake commissioner Adam Silver's hand - no hugs - before posing with the uniform of the team that employs the talented 6-foot-11 athlete. There won't be anything boisterous or comedic about that night for Turner, because the 19-year-old already understands he's entering a business that will command his best each day.

"I’m going to keep it strictly professional. It’s a business now, and that’s how I’m going to approach it," Turner said at the NBA Draft Combine. "Since I was a kid, it’s been a dream of mine."

Turner isn't sure when he'll be selected in next month's draft, in part because he stays as far away from mocks draft as he can. "That's my agent's job. That's why I hired him," Turner deadpans.

But teenagers who stand 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, weigh 240 pounds and have the shooting touch of a guard usually don't have to wait long on draft night. Turner, the No. 9 high school recruit in the 2014 class, became a surefire lottery pick after his lone season at Texas; he started only seven games but appeared in all 34 for the Longhorns, averaging 10.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 22.2 minutes per game.

[NBA DRAFT PROFILE: Texas forward Myles Turner]

He didn't have the same impact as some of his fellow top-10 classmates - Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones keyed Duke to a national title, Karl-Anthony Towns led Kentucky to a perfect regular season, and Stanley Johnson led the 34-win Arizona Wildcats in scoring - instead choosing the hometown Longhorns over the likes of Kansas, Ohio State and a host of other high-major schools. That meant sitting behind senior Jonathan Holmes and junior Cameron Ridley, who like Turner was a five-star recruit out of high school, while learning the ropes of the college game. 

Turner was a mixed bag all year, perhaps more indicative of a typical freshman than what his class made it appear to be. On Feb. 11 he scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in 19 minutes against TCU; three days later he scored 25 points and hauled in 12 rebounds, connecting on a 3-pointer and blocking three shots against Texas Tech.

He had nine games in which he recorded five or more blocked shots, yet also had six block-less games. His role diminished down the stretch as Texas opted for smaller lineups, as he averaged just 14.6 minutes in the Longhorns' three postseason games, culminating in a loss to Butler in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

But the well-spoken, confident Turner said he took those up and downs in stride.

He saw the professional side of things when head coach Rick Barnes, now at Tennessee, showed him film of LaMarcus Aldridge playing in the same burnt orange jersey. He understood the level of play he'd need to compete with at the next level when Texas alum and reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant came to Austin and played pick-up games with the team over the summer. And when the ninth best recruit in the country rode the bench for all but seven games, it taught him a lesson about what may initially happen in his rookie season.

"It really matured me throughout the course of the year. It humbled me. Coming in, I was highly recruited but I came in and settled into a role," he said. "That’s what I’m going to have to do at the next level."

[ROTOWORLD MOCK DRAFT: At No. 22, the Bulls select...]

He has plenty of room to grow and isn't as NBA-ready as some of the bigs ahead of him such as Okafor, Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein, but his game is made for the NBA. He's a rare blend of defensive IQ, length, offensive range (he shot 84 percent from the free-throw line and hit 17 3-pointers) that'll make him a true stretch-four with the ability to eventually defend NBA centers.

NBA teams also know they're getting a player with no frills. Though he's just a year removed from his senior prom, Turner's attitude and mentality heading into the Association will give him a leg up as he learns the game, improves his offensive versatility and builds his body to bang inside on a nightly basis. There may not be a more mentally ready player in this year's class.

"It’s going to be really exciting. It really does not matter to me where I play," he said. "I just want to go out there and go somewhere where I can be used and develop and bring success to the team I’m drafted by."

Hoiberg, Bulls already facing touch decisions on Opening Night

Hoiberg, Bulls already facing touch decisions on Opening Night

The Bulls’ starting point guard missing the team’s season opener is less than ideal, but that is the dilemma Fred Hoiberg and company are faced with.
 
Hoiberg made the announcement during shoot around that Kris Dunn would miss the first game of his third NBA season for personal reasons, but noted that his absence is “excused.” 
 
The Bulls will turn to Cameron Payne as they get set to play the Sixers in Philadelphia Thursday night. The 24-year-old guard out of Murray State will be tasked with running the offense against one of the better defensive teams in the league.
 
Because of injuries and the numbers game at guard, Payne hasn’t had a chance to show Bulls fans much since he came over from Oklahoma City in a trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder.
 
“I feel like I can be way better,” Payne said when asked about the opportunity to show what he can do. “I know I didn’t make a lot of shots but it’s really not about that. It’s about getting my team involved and make sure everyone gets the ball in their spots to contribute.”
 
Payne showed flashes over the last 22 games of the 2017-18 season (14 starts), shooting 42 percent from three and averaging 4.6 assists per game in that stretch. The shooting stroke didn’t show up early in the preseason for Payne. 
 
He was better in the team’s final exhibition against Denver and has shown enough to Hoiberg to earn the starting nod. He’ll have his work cut out for him tonight.
 
“Obviously we’ve been working on different coverages based on having a full roster, but things like this happen,” Hoiberg said when asked what this does to his game prep. “It’s going to be electric in here. They’re going to come out and play extremely hard and extremely physical. That’s who they are and we have to be ready for that. It’s a little bit of shock and awe with (the Sixers). You have to weather that first storm and hopefully give ourselves a chance with great effort.”
 
After Payne, the Bulls will have Ryan Arcidiacono as the first point guard off the bench. They’ll also have the services of newcomer Tyler Ulis, who will be in uniform tonight. Hoiberg mentioned that he feels comfortable with Zach Lavine bringing the ball up as well. He also mentioned that Jabari Parker will have his hands on the ball an awful lot with the team’s second unit.
 
The season hasn’t even started yet and the Bulls are already missing several key players. After an impressive rookie season, Lauri Markkanen will start the season on the shelf with a high grade lateral elbow sprain. Denzel Valentine will also miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. The team may have Cristiano Felicio, also dealing with an ankle injury, depending on his pregame workout goes.
 
“It’s not ideal but it is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “It happens at this level. You just have to go out and do the best job you can. It’s an opportunity for our guys to step up with two of our better players out of the lineup – really three with Denzel as a guy that can make plays in that second unit.”   

Bulls will open against Sixers without Kris Dunn

Bulls will open against Sixers without Kris Dunn

The Bulls faced a steep test opening their 2018-19 campaign against the Philadelphia 76ers.

That task won't become any easier with Kris Dunn missing the game for personal reasons, head coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters at shootaround on Thursday.

Dunn's exlusion opens up an opportunity for Cameron Payne, who will enter the starting lineup. Payne started 14 games for the Bulls last season, averaging 9.4 points and 5.6 assists in 26.5 minutes.

It also moves up Ryan Arcidiacono and Tyler Ulis, both of whom will be active, in the rotation. Expect both to see at least some playing time, especially with Denzel Valentine also out while recovering from a sprained ankle suffered in training camp.

It could mean an even bigger evening for Sixers point guard Ben Simmons. The reigning Rookie of the Year posted 19 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists in Philly's season-opening loss to the Celtics on Tuesday.