Also see: An introduction to the series | Mike James | Javaris Crittenton | DeShawn Stevenson | Fabricio Oberto | Nick Young | JaVale McGee | Dominic McGuire | Andray Blatche (cheating a little) | Randy Foye
We all know Mike Miller is going to play this year. He's proven this preseason that he's an efficient, if reluctant (at times) scorer, an excellent rebounder for a guard and a very underrated passer.
However, it's still up in the air as to how exactly Miller will be used. Miller's a paradox of sorts. On the one hand, with his shooting and versatile offensive game, he could pretty much fit in with any combination. If he were to play a ton of minutes with the starting lineup, for example, he would make everyone's job easier because he can shoot the ball so well. As he's talked about so many times in interviews this preseason, with him on the floor, defenders are going to have to choose whether they double off him and make him shoot or stick to him, which would give the other Big 3 players more time to go one-on-one. That split second of indecisiveness could be all this offense needs to click.
On the other hand, we've also seen Miller display an annoying passivity for stretches because he's trying too hard to fit in. This was a problem in Minnesota, where he suddenly stopped shooting in an attempt to play like Magic Johnson, and we've seen it here too, particularly when he has been paired with the starting lineup. While he has a game that screams "complimentary player," he also has enough skills where he should be put in a position to make more plays. That would mean playing a lot of times with the second unit, because Miller will have to tap into those facilitative skills in order to get the team to perform.
It's a dilemma, that's for sure. We also haven't even talked about his defense, which isn't so awful that it kills a team, but also isn't good enough to help a team when paired with other poor defenders. So where do you play Miller most? Make the jump to discuss.
Why he should start: Because nobody else has really separated themselves from the pack, and Miller is clearly the best player that's competing for the position. Often times, simple is best. Start your five best guys, and you won't have to worry about all the mind games and extra strategy that comes with saving one of your top five for the bench. Miller's game also can help the Big 3, as mentioned earlier.
Why he should come off the bench, but play starters' minutes: Miller's defense is pretty poor, and defense is the type of thing where you need to set the tone at the beginning of the game. Miller's facilitative skills can also help Randy Foye, who seems to play best when he isn't the only one making plays for people.
My best guess: I see the latter situation happening for Miller. He'll play starters minutes and he'll finish most games, but I don't see him starting for two reasons. One is the defense factor -- Miller isn't good at it, and this team will need to play it better from the start of games. The second reason is to best prevent the "passive Miller" from showing up. If he's placed in the game and told to make plays, it'll keep him more in the flow for when he has to come in and play in the fourth quarter with the starters.