Last season, Domantas Sabonis was Myles Turner’s primary backup at the center position for the Indiana Pacers. This year, head coach Nate McMillan experimented by starting both of them in the Pacers frontcourt.
Both Turner and Sabonis have been getting heavy run together on the floor and are important to Indiana’s success this season. Unfortunately, the Pacers haven’t won with both of them starting together. While Indiana did notch its first win against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, Turner exited the contest early due to an ankle sprain.
Nonetheless, you can’t ignore that both of them are off to great individual starts to the new season.
In three games prior to his injury, Turner averaged 17.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks across 39 minutes while shooting 54.3 percent from the field and 50 percent from beyond the arc. Sabonis, on the one hand, is averaging 21.8 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 2.6 assists across 36 minutes. He is also shooting 57 percent from the field.
There’s no doubt that Turner and Sabonis are talented in their own respective ways. Both of them offer different things to the table for the Pacers.
Turner is a versatile and athletic center that can both space the floor and rim run for them on offense. On the other side of the ball, he is the defensive anchor for this Pacers squad. He led the league in blocks last season with 2.7 per game and will continue to provide Indiana with a solid interior presence and steady rim protection.
Sabonis, on the other hand, plays more of a back-to-the-basket style of basketball and operates best down low on the offensive end, though he can also knock down the three-ball occasionally. Likewise, much like his father Arvydas, Domantas is also very adept in making plays for his teammates.
Comparing their numbers, Sabonis has a better knack of getting rebounds — both defensive and offensive — than Turner does. He also averages more assists than Turner. Meanwhile, Turner has the edge over Sabonis when it comes to shot blocking and three-point shooting.
Personally, if I have to compare the two, I might have to give the slight edge to Turner on this one. His potential to be a two-way star cannot be ignored. His ability to bang bodies down low, defend the paint, and protect the rim are very valuable. Likewise, his versatility and athleticism helps him keep in front of smaller guards when they get switched onto him on defense.
While Sabonis may have the slight edge over Turner on offense due to his playmaking capabilities, Turner is just a much better on defense than Sabonis is at this point.
Nonetheless, both should be very important pieces for Indiana’s success this season. I’m pretty sure the Pacers are just fine having them both aboard.