Mike Miller doesn’t want to be your team’s leading scorer. And he doesn’t want to listen to others who have implored him to be more aggressive on offense, including his coach.
This season, almost as much as Miller has said, “It is what it is,” if not more, he has pragmatically relayed, “I pick my spots,” as if it were ingrained into his basketball dogma.
Miller should be lauded for his selflessness, on top of his constant willingness to be first off the bench to support his teammates coming into a timeout or him being a primary proponent of hustle on the court. Passing is the “right way to play basketball” says Miller. Nothing wrong with that school of thought. Dude is honorable.
But as good as his intentions are, Miller’s methods have, at times, served as a detriment to his team. The drives ending right at the rim only to kick the ball backwards to the perimeter. The passed up open shots where Miller, the best shooter on the team, makes the extra pass just to get the ball “poppin’.” Players with his skill shouldn’t be such delegates.
Is it a coincidence that in Saturday’s game against the Knicks where Miller scored a season-high 25 points on the most shots he’s attempted and made (9-15) as a Wizard — also the most threes he’s attempted and made (7-10) — he also dropped a season-high eight assists?
True, Miller’s ball movement has the ability to be contagious. And the team needs him to do that. But they also need Mike to balance his game and make opponents adjust to him, rather than pick his spots. Miller won’t face lax zone defenses every night as he did against New York, but he still needs to attack the gaps and be the open threat. When he takes offensive initiative, he’s also helping cultivate better opportunities for his teammates.
Miller doesn’t want to be a prime-time player … and that’s okay. Much of him falling short of hopes this season has been the result of injuries and trying to get acclimated to a new team with players (Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and the Wizard formerly known as Agent Zero) who dominate the ball on offense. But from here on out, Miller needs to prove his worth through confidence in his game. It’s a contract year for crying out loud.
Sure, he’ll probably end up taking the mid-level exception to play wherever with his boy LeBron plays next season. After all, Miller did name his son Maverick after one of Bron-Bron’s best friends … so the story goes. But until then, he should take advantage of lowered expectations to succeed and jump at the chance to personally excel with decent talent around him.
Now, a video about Mike Miller …
Relevant stats …
Over a week ago, Mike Prada put together a post of relevant Mike Miller stats on Bullets Forever. One number in particular was Miller’s net On Court/Off Court Assisted FG%. At the time, Miller’s was +11%, meaning that when Mike is on the floor, the percent of team-field goals which are assisted upon jumps from 47% to 58%.
Now, according to 82 games.com, Miller’s net has dipped slightly, going from +11% to +9% (48% to 57%). Still, this positive net leads the team by far. To compare all Wizards:
- Mike Miller +9%
- Mike James +5%
- Brendan Haywood +3%
- Gilbert Arenas +2%
- Antawn Jamison +1%
- Fabricio Oberto 0%
- Earl Boykins 0%
- DeShawn Stevenson -1%
- Caron Butler -1%
- JaVale McGee -2%
- Randy Foye -3%
- Andray Blatche -3%
- Dominic McGuire -3%
- Nick Young -4%
No surprise should come from observing which players are at the top of this list and which are at the bottom, the results contributing to why certain players have trouble seeing consistent time and why Chris Webber recently took all unsuspended team captains to task for their selfish play, specifically in reference to their assist-to-turnover ratios.
To put Miller’s net +9 Assisted-FG% in context, Steve Nash, the league leader in assists per game, has a net rating of +7%. Of course, this stat can be contingent on the surrounding system and the passing ability/willingness of teammates. I’m not sure if Miller’s stat says more about him as a player or more about the below par passing of his teammates.
Best Quotes from Wizards-Knicks …
On a few occasions, it looked as if Antawn Jamison was attempting to get his master’s degree from the Moses Malone School of Stat-Padding Rebounds, as he repeatedly batted around his missed shots, earning offensive rebounds before later getting shots to fall. But after Jamison missed 16 of 26 shots on Saturday night, he was sincere after the Wizards’ win over the New York Knicks that he was simply trying to score.
After relinquishing what had been an 18-point lead early in the second quarter with a pair of New York 3-pointers that tied the score, 50-50, and then, 52-52, almost immediately after the halftime break, the Wizards (16-30) went on a 30-17 tear to end the 3rd quarter, during which Miller hit five of his seven 3-pointers on the night, including three in a row to end the period.
I’ll never forget the look Mike Miller made after he hit his fifth three in six attempts in the third quarter of last night’s win over the Knicks. After the shot, which gave the Wizards a 79-65 lead, Miller turned toward the bench and kind of just shook his head back and forth. It wasn’t quite like Michael Jordan’s famous shrug in the 1992 Finals, but it was the same type of gesture. Yeah, I can’t explain it either, Phil.
Miller, who has said he doesn’t always need to score to make a difference, needed to score to help the Wizards solve the Knicks’ zone defenses. The Knicks switched to 2-3 and 3-2 zones in the second quarter and held the Wizards to 14 points after the Wizards opened the game outscoring the Knicks 36-19 in the first.
“We were playing a zone, and that’s the weakness of it [RE: Mike Miller's shooting],” Coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We had a couple guys who just didn’t quite get the scheme right.”
D’Antoni deployed the zone after watching his team give up 36 points in the first quarter, with Jamison and Brendan Haywood punishing them inside. D’Antoni was blunt in assessing his team’s defense, saying: “I didn’t have a good feeling about us guarding them man for man. And when we did it right, the zone was good.”
Other links …
Prior to Friday’s Wizards game against New Jersey, I did a Q&A with Nets Are Scorching of the TrueHoop Network. [read it here]
The story of Corey Maggette’s 18 points on 3-22 FGs, the time he took money as an amateur player but Duke did not get in trouble, and how he has made Coach K alter his ways which has decreased the overall success of Duke basketball program. [Sports and Life Ramblings]
Former Washington Bullet Jeff Ruland is the head basketball coach at the University of the District of Columbia and times have been tough, including recently having to survive part of a game with only four players on the court. At least his team’s gym has a nice bathroom. [Washington City Paper]
Andray Blatche dunks on Jared Jeffries. [You Got Dunked On]
Profiling Brendan Haywood’s Defense, By the Numbers. [Bullets Forever]
The sweater-vested Mike Wise sought out an elbow rub with the U.S. President during the Georgetown-Duke game this past Saturday. [DC Sports Bog]
But did the President really think Wise was the DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg? [@MikeWiseguy Tweet Photo]
Confessions of a Half-Assed Wizards Fan [DC Landing Strip]
We know A.J. Price has a fan in Mike James here in D.C.; Pacers fans are beginning to take notice of the rookie guard. [Eight Points, Nine Seconds]
A Cleveland sports blog remembers when they traded away Mark Price (to the Washington Bullets). [Waiting For Next Year]
LeBaby James is throwing temper-tantrums again, which is likely par for the course for someone who has probably never been told ‘no’ in his entire life. [Ball Don't Lie - Yahoo!]
In any case, it’s probably best to end with this photoshop: