05/15/09 9:12 am EST
It’s hard to find issues with Andre Miller on offense. As the Sixers point guard he was good for 16 points, 6.5 dimes and4.5 rips per game. Those are smooth numbers for a pure point man in the NBA. He was even better in the post season at 21 ppg., 5.3 apg. and 6.3 rpg. But stats would not accurately measure Miller’s importance to the Sixers offensive scheme in 2008-09. Miller was the catalyst for Philly’s fast break attack and his solid decision making on the fly is the main reason the Sixers pushed the rock so successfully. On those occasions when he is not leading the run-n-gun, he is fast enough and owns enough finishing skills to effectively fill the lanes on the break. In the half-court Miller did an excellent job directing the Sixers sets and delivering the ball to the best available option. Additionally, Miller’s ability to execute the pick and roll and his sweet “back-down” game posed serious match up problems for many opposing point guards this season. As a bonus, Miller got to the line frequently this season (His 409 attempts were 2nd best on the Sixers and 6thamong NBA PGs) and he is practically money from the charity stripe (Miller converts at an 82% clip.). Miller was also a great caretaker of the ball for the Sixers as you can see by his 3 to 1 assist to turnover ratio. Despite the fact that he shot 47% from the field this past season, our one knock on Miller that kept him from getting A+ in this category was his jumper. It’s NOT a thing of beauty to watch and when he fires from deep, those in the paint may want to wear hard hats (28% from three). But we’re being really picky with that criticism and the fact is we love Miller’s o-game.
Defense is the area where Miller had some issues this season. He’s a very good weak-side defender who can double a big in the post and dig the ball out or slash through a passing lane and steal an ill timed pass (1.33 spg. put him 19thin the NBA among guards). Miller can even cause some havoc on the wings when he was involved in coming from the other side to double-team the man with the rock. However, Miller struggled with his on-ball defense in 2008-09. To be honest, he never showed that he is capable of shutting down an opposing player and at times his inability to stop his man killed the Sixers. For us Miller’s defensive woes come down one item. The first is that he gives opposing guards entirely too much room to operate. We’d like to see Miller pick guys up earlier and stay up on his man more tightly. We know over the course of an 82 game season it’s tough to maintain tight man-to-man D on a nightly basis, especially for an aging PG, but too often this year Miller was in a different area code then his opposing player. According to 82games.com
We have nothing but accolades for Miller in this category. He played in 82 games this season, so he was durable and frequently played through pain. From what we witnessed, Miller was a great leader through example by working hard in practice and respecting the coaches. Miller played smart this year (a usual) by doing the right things at the right times on the floor during games. Often he used his high basketball IQ to adjust the Sixers offense when the defense put the clamps on andmore often to cover for poorly designed X&Os. Lastly, it’s been said numerous times this past season that Miller was not thrilled to be playing in Philly. Well if that’s the truth, Miller did a great job of suppressing those emotions, acting like a pro’s-pro on a daily basis and putting what’s best for the Sixers before his own happiness. In an era of whiny, tweeting NBA players, he gets bonus points in our eyes for keeping his mouth shut and taking care of business and thus the A+.
Miller was absolutely clutch this season for the 76ers. In numerous games during 2008-09 and during the playoffs, Miller carried this team on offense after the opening tip or coming out of the locker room at halftime until the rest of the Sixers could get on track. All too often, it seemed that Miller was forced to take on a scorer’s mentality in order to compensate for the other Sixers cold shooting. But in those instances Miller didn’t hesitate to take over and do whatever was necessary. In addition to carrying the 76ers at times, Miller also had a knack for hitting big buckets and making key plays that triggered or closed out big Sixer runs. Whenever the Sixers needed a basket to cut an opponents lead to two or extend their own lead to double digits, it seemed to us that Miller always had an important role in that hoop. Finally, Miller also knocked down his fair share of “game winners”. In fact a running argument here at the Philadunkia offices is who the Sixers should give the rock to when their down one point with :10 left. We’re evenly divided between Miller and Iguodala.
Final Average: A
There’s not much left to say about Miller’s performance this year, it was flat out special. In our opinion #7 was the Sixers MVP in 2008-09 and as long as Ed Stefanski doesn’t have to mortgage the future of the franchise to keep him, we really hope Miller is back in a Sixers uniform next year running the show.