Texas center Myles Turner looks to erase questions about his durability
To answer questions about his long-term health, Texas center Myles Turner has been proactive by undergoing a battery of physical examinations before the draft.
LAS VEGAS -- Center Myles Turner has been the subject of a lot of debate this offseason regarding his running mechanics and potential for injury.
While Turner has avoided major injury, scouts and NBA personnel have wondered throughout the season how long someone with his gait could hold up in the grind of the incredibly long NBA season, and have voiced concerns about both the minor injuries he has sustained throughout his career to his lower body.
However, according to medical professionals that performed tests on him after he declared for the draft, Turner is 100 percent healthy, and should continue to be for a long time -- barring a catastrophic incident -- if he can just improve some small parts of his frame.
Turner and his representation, ASM Sports, allowed CBSSports.com to take a look at the results of the medical and athletic testing he did back in April. It was the same 27-page medical and athletic profile that was sent to all 30 NBA teams.
With the idea of getting a better feel for what he needed to improve upon in his body after hearing all season about his mechanics, the 7-foot former Texas Longhorn was placed through a battery of flexibility, stability and running tests that measured the mechanical efficiency of his lower body, the strength of muscles in his lower body, and potential issues that could occur down the road.
The results of said testing were overwhelmingly positive, and gave Turner a perfect sense of how he needed to improve his body.
"My evaluation revealed that he has full range of motion of the joints of his lower extremities to include his hips, knees and ankles," Dr. James Kinderknecht, a specialist in sports medicine at the Hospital for Special Surgery, said.
"He has normal joint stability. His leg lengths are equal. He was noted to have gluteus medius weakness with resistance testing on his examination. It was more profound on the left than the right. His strength was otherwise normal.
"He has started on a rehabilitation program to address his gluteus weakness and poor activation of the gluteus musculature. I would expect this to fully correct his gait disturbance. I also feel this weakness is what contributed to his left patellar tendinitis that should resolve with the exercise program. Overall, his prognosis is excellent."
So in layman's terms, basically Turner just needs to work on improving the strength of his gluteus muscles so that they start firing a bit better. Once that happens, he should be able to fix his running gait.
And in fact, the improvements to his running gait have already shown up, as he's worked with Joe Abunassar at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas. Check out this video I took of him running at his workout in Las Vegas earlier this month.
Compare that to the way that he ran the floor earlier this year at Texas.
The stride already looks much better, longer and with a more balanced posture compared to the short, choppy little strides he was taking early in the year. His pre-draft trainer has also been impressed with Turner's progress as an athlete in the three months that they've been training together.
"Myles has done very well," Abunassar said. "He's come along perfectly. I don't think we could have asked for better results. Once we got the glutes strong and the core strong, his running gait changed. And that's what we were looking for. Even his movement on the court is excellent."
Given this type of positive evaluation and quick improvement in his running gait, as well as a fully clear medical scan from foot and ankle expert Dr. Martin O'Malley, it's a wonder Turner doesn't get sick of answering questions about the supposed problems he'll have in the future.
"To an extent, I do," the always diplomatic and polished Turner told CBSSports.com. "But I mean, it's something I'm going to have to talk about here for the next couple of months now."
Turner certainly hopes that this is something that only comes up over the next couple of months, given that if it never comes up again it will likely mean a long and successful career for him. And with his considerable talent level, that's something that could very well be in the cards.
As a big man that can shoot the 3 and protect the rim in the modern NBA, Turner projects as a rare and extraordinarily valuable archetype of big man that is currently only occupied by Serge Ibaka -- a true stretch-five. Turner only knocked down 27 percent of his 3s last year, but his shot mechanics are strong and they show a lot of room for improvement. Also, his 4.7 blocks per-40 minutes last season are good for second place of any player currently on my top-100 boards, beyond only Robert Upshaw from Washington.
"I'll be a shot-blocker," Turner said. "I see myself playing some offense, but teams might not see that yet. But defense is huge, any team needs a good defender. Also, the way the game is transitioning right now, it's guys that can play multiple positions and defend more positions, and I think I can do that."
And that's another place where Turner really excels: his general intelligence level. Turner is a very cerebral player that understands the way the NBA is going. In fact, his general well-spoken nature led one NBA scout I spoke with to call him a "future politician," due to how eloquent of a public speaker he is.
"I don't get into politics too much," Turner said when I asked him about that, "but I understand where he was going with it. I could see myself public speaking, that's one thing I pride myself in."
What else does Turner take pride in?
"Loyalty is the biggest thing for me," Turner said. "Loyalty to the people you're with to the people who have gotten you where you are. That's usually the only thing for me."
None of this is to say that Turner is a sure thing by any means. Like a lot of defensive-based 19-year-olds, his feel for the game on offense isn't quite there yet. He doesn't really have great passing instincts, he doesn't feel double teams well quite yet, doesn't have a strong post game, and his footwork will likely need to be altered after all of these running gait adjustments. It's also worth mentioning that he feasted offensively against bad defensive teams in the NCAA this season. So it would be unfair to call him a perfect prospect by any means.
But still, there's a lot to like here, and as far as imperfect prospects go, he has the kind of personality that you want to bring to your team.
And most importantly, the team that he ends up with Turner on Thursday night shouldn't be worried about the potential for injury with him any more than another prospect.
That is, as soon as he strengthens up those glutes.
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