The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Blaze of…What Exactly?

So the Blazers have signed Andre Miller to a 3 year/$21 or 22 million deal, according to ESPN/Yahoo/Miller’s agent.

This is an interesting one. Miller’s 33 at a position which declines quickly, and he’s never been exactly Kevin Willis-esque in his conditioning; but depending on what statistical measures you like, there’s a lot to be said in defense of this one. Miller has never missed more than 2 games in any season of his career, and PER actually sees him as having a strong late-career performance spike putting up an 18.6 and an 18.4 in the last two years after 3 seasons in the mid-16 range. 2-year adjusted +/- per basketballvalue.com hates him however, clocking in at a loathsome -5.06. 82 games seems almost ambivalent if it’s possible for statistics to be so- he’s got the third highest Roland Rating on last year’s 76ers, but he’s got an estimated win % of…51.9. Hmm.

How he fits into what Portland does is only somewhat easier to figure out. The Trailblazers were an offensive dynamo last year, topping the league with a 113.9 offensive rating- which slipped my notice (and probably more than one or two other people’s) entirely as they were also the slowest team in the league with an 86.6 pace. Defensively Portland were good (107.8, 14th in league) but not great and this would be the obvious area for them to improve on. Given that they were already 6th in defensive rebounding, the idea in theory should probably have been to find a strong man defender at the point who can harass and disrupt given that the Blazers were slightly below average in causing opponent turnovers last year. Miller doesn’t have a great rep as a defender but he was 16th in the league in steals per game last year; he’ll probably help some in this area. His main value is generally considered to be on offense however and this is where the questions really emerge: individually Miller is better than Steve Blake, but there’s issues of limited marginal value and diminishing returns when you try to augment an already extreme value. Put more simply, there’s only one ball and there’s only so good you can be. Maybe Miller makes Portland historically great on offense; maybe he’s got some veteran leadership ability which will help a more-seasoned Portland squad hold up better in the playoffs; maybe just the improved depth of having last year’s starter as this year’s backup will win Portland a few extra games. I really don’t know, but it’ll be interesting to watch it play out.

Bottom line, I’d say it’s a good move for the Blazers. Miller’s probably an upgrade albeit not a colossal one, his contract is reasonable money and reasonable length, he does a decent job of addressing specific team weaknesses, and if he turns into a pumpkin as he hits his mid-30’s you’re really only out the money which you had to spend now anyway before extensions for all your young players eat your cap room. Miller himself has to be thrilled- he’s on a title contender.

There was some talk of the Knicks going after Miller. All I can say about that is what I said about the Kidd and Hill talk: I trust Donny Walsh to know his business, but not a man of those three would have been on the next contending Knicks team so I can’t shed too many tears either way. And if this results in Ramon Sessions coming to town or Nate being re-signed, all the better.

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July 24, 2009 - Posted by | Other NBA | ,

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