Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame member Kevin McHale traveled to the Athletic Performance Ranch in Fort Worth, Texas to work with Myles Turner.
The focus of the workouts with McHale was to go over techniques with Myles that will help him to become a greater interior scoring threat and to generate more free throw attempts. The advice that was given was meant to complement his skill-set as a reliable shooting big man and to use his athleticism to his advantage.
“Adding some post stuff, aggressive attacking. Using his skill. He has tremendous skill. Great hands. Great touch,” McHale said when asked what he wanted to emphasize when working with Myles. “Just try to put him in positions that he can attack more and get fouled more. Get into the paint more off the dribble, off the bounce. He is already a tremendous shooter in the pick-and-pop but in the playoffs, you need paint points.”
An area of emphasis in McHale’s teaching was the use of the rip through move in the post to get into the paint. He described the goal as being to read the defender’s foot after a reverse pivot and to be explosive to get the defender moving. This can often result in early foul calls caused by a late reaction from the defender or by simply capitalizing on a slower matchup.
If the rip through sequence doesn’t end with a finish at the basket or a foul, the defender will have to worry about Myles shooting a turnaround jumper. McHale went over techniques to create space in these sequences by sending the defender one way with proper footwork to set up a jump shot.
Another layer to the rip through move that McHale discussed with Myles was to use a shot fake to get the defender into the air to then exploit it resulting in favorable finishes at the basket. The opposition will not want to allow him to take a turnaround jumper and that can leave them in a vulnerable position.
The rip through move creates a variety of options for a reliable shooting big man, in particular. If defenders start to catch on that Myles likes to use this move, he will be able to attack the opposition using jab steps in faceup situations knowing that there is fear of a rip through move.
Applying the step-through move was discussed again in the workout as a way to counter defenses fearing traditional turnaround jump shot attempts. The defender will have to lean on Myles’ hip to get a strong contest in most situations when they believe that a turnaround jumper is coming. That can open up favorable opportunities to step-through for a layup.
With opposing teams’ game-planning to slow Myles down as a pick-and-pop threat, McHale wanted to work on him getting to the basket as a ‘Plan B’ option. He had Myles drive the lane using a spin-move going in both directions on both sides of the floor ending in jump hooks and jumpers.
There is a lot of switching that happens when guarding the pick-and-roll. Something that McHale wanted to work on was having Myles bury the guard deep after the switch. With the Pacers planning to go big with Domantas Sabonis at power forward, sequences like these will be important.
One of the savvy techniques that McHale used to do as a player to create easy scoring chances was to work up and down the lane before the catch. Often times, players that are fighting for positioning will concede their spot closer to the basket and come closer to the ball. Allowing that to happen takes away a potential advantage for the offensive player.
There are plenty of situations throughout games when a team going big can capitalize on their size on the offensive boards against small-ball units due to switching. A key that McHale mentioned to Myles was to keep the ball high on offensive rebounds to create simple putbacks over smaller defenders.
The physical work to add new elements to a player’s game is only part of the equation. McHale mentioned that it’s important to take the shots that you want to take but without over-analyzing situations. Having reliable ‘go-to’ moves and a repertoire of read-and-react counter-moves were critical contributors to him being one of the greatest post scorers to play in the NBA.
The ability that McHale had to attack the defense by dictating the sequence is something that Myles respects about his skill-set. That is a significant reason why fellow NBA greats like Charles Barkley describe McHale as being the ‘best player I ever played against.’
“[McHale] gets to his spots and determines what he’s going to do. He has all the up-and-unders, the fakes in the world,” Myles said when asked about what he admires about McHale’s skill-set. “I feel like he could never get sped up. He’s going to do what he wants to do.”
It was a tremendous experience for Myles to be able to learn from such a great basketball mind like McHale. In addition to his playing career, he has been involved in the NBA in both coaching and executive positions. That type of diverse resume offers a unique perspective regarding what attributes are important for players to have to be successful within a team concept.
“The experience was second to none. When you have someone who has been there before, who has won championships who’s able to explain that knowledge. You can’t get that anywhere else,” Myles said when asked about being able to learn from McHale. “Just to be there in the presence of greatness, it does a lot for your confidence.”
The coaching perspective that McHale provides was evident in the workouts as well. Some of the drills that were used emphasized particular sequences that will be required of Myles when playing alongside Domantas Sabonis in the frontcourt for longer stretches.
What’s next for Myles is continued preparation for a packed month of August with USA Basketball and for his upcoming season with the Indiana Pacers.