It's Time for Domantas Sabonis to be the Full-Time Starter

It's time for Nate McMillan to embrace Sabonis as the full-time starter at the center position.

It’s time for coach Nate McMillan to make the switch that many Pacers fan have been clamoring for. With 18 games as evidence, it’s time for Domantas Sabonis to be the full-time starting center. As a starter, Sabonis is averaging better per game numbers than his counterpart, Myles Turner.

Myles Turner 14.0 49.9 6.4 2.2 +1.0
Domantas Sabonis  13.2 54.5 10.4 0.5 +4.6

But the reasoning behind making the switch goes beyond each players’ per game averages.

Starting Lineup Performs Better With Sabonis

Let’s compare the starting lineup with Turner in it versus with Sabonis in it.

According to, the starting lineup with Turner only has a net rating of plus-1.1 per 100 possessions, compared to plus-9.9 per 100 possession with Sabonis inserted as the starting center. So what’s the reason behind this 8.8 difference? I believe it can be attributed to the close relationship between Sabonis and Victor Oladipo.

Oladipo and Sabonis have a special bond with each other. Both were shipped from Orlando to Oklahoma to Indiana, and they are the best of buds off the court. Their genuine friendship has translated into their on-court chemistry. When both players are on the court together, they have a net rating of plus-12.4 per 100 possessions. They have such a great feel for one another that the other players (Collinson-Bogdanovic-Young) are able to feed off their chemistry, making their jobs that much easier.

With Turner, Oladipo just doesn't have that same type of chemistry, and it shows (plus-5.2 per 100 possessions). This is by no means Oladipo's or Turner's fault; it's their first season playing together, and chemistry doesn't build that fast in most cases. 

This stark difference is something McMillan must take into consideration. 


It’s no secret that Turner is a poor rebounder for someone with his size. Coming down with 6.4 rebounds per night as a seven-footer just won’t cut it. A lot this has to do with Turner’s lack of strength. Despite being in his third season in the NBA, Turner is only 21-years-old and is still in the process of filling out his body. Until he puts on more muscle,  opposing centers will continue to push Turner around on the low block, getting into great position to snag the rebound. 

Sabonis, however, can bang bodies with these bigger players. Sabonis may be younger than Turner, but he’s already stronger and more equipped to go to battle with the Dwight Howard’s of the world for rebounding position. Despite playing two fewer minutes than Turner, Sabonis is averaging two more rebounds per game and has a higher rebound percentage than Turner (18.8 vs 12.7). Inserting Sabonis into the starting lineup permanently would help the Pacers in the rebounding battle -- something that they've struggled with all season long. 

Myles Turner will be the focal point

One of my biggest gripes with McMillan has been Turner's lack of involvement in the offense. Turner simply doesn’t get enough touches to really make a mark on the game offensively. Possessing a smooth jumper, he deserves more touches in the mid-post and more spot-up opportunities. By coming off the bench and playing with the second unit, Turner would become the primary scoring option, which in turn means more touches while he's in the game. These extra touches would allow Turner to polish his offensive game, more specifically his post game.

With Turner on the bench, the Pacers would have some much-needed offensive firepower in their second unit, which is something that they’ve been lacking all season long. 

If McMillan does make the switch full-time, it is important that Turner doesn’t view this as a negative. Of course, it sucks losing your starting gig, but this will help both the Pacers and Turner in the long run. Sabonis will allow the Pacers to boast one of the better starting units in the league. Turner would be the main scoring option with the second unit, which will allow him to work on his overall offensive game.

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