The Wizards acquired Andre Miller today, and our first thought was to get a Nuggets expert to shed some light on the team's new acquisition. Luckily, we have such a person in our network: Nate Timmons, site manager of SB Nation's Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs.
So without further ado, here are our questions:
Bullets Forever: The circumstances surrounding Miller's falling out with head coach Brian Shaw weren't ideal to say the least. Now that he is in D.C. and will presumably play consistent minutes for the Wizards, from your observations, what is the best way to ensure that he remains content and on good terms with the coaching staff?
Nate Timmons: I don't think Andre Miller will be a problem in Washington. He'll know his role and will be happy to be back on the court and with limited games remaining. There likely won't be enough time for him to get upset about anything. He can be a bit prickly when he's not getting consistent minutes, especially when his team is losing.
BF: Historically, we have seen that Miller has been a consistent ball handler and passer throughout his career. The Wizards this season do not have a particularly deep rotation and the offense has often sputtered when John Wall was taking a rest on the bench. How much could Miller help the Wizards' second unit as they head toward the Playoffs?
NT: Miller knows how to run an offense in the half-court. He's a great walk-it-up-the-floor guy and can mix in fast-break alley-oops that are a thing of beauty. He can take over on offense at time, and look for his own shot, whether it be in the post, attacking the rim, or hitting baseline jumpers. He makes guys around him better, but he also has a bad habit of going into "me mode" and ignoring teammates to get a shot he wants. He was a pretty big ball dominator in Denver and often took the ball up the floor when he was paired with Ty Lawson, thus rendering Lawson useless, and the Nuggets offense would go into a slowdown mode.
Sometimes Miller's shot selection can be super frustrating, and defensively the Wizards will be faced with a lot of 4 on 5 when he's on the floor.
BF: Since Miller is now 37 years old, he will not have the speed to catch up with most of the NBA's younger guards while on defense. The Wizards in their last two seasons have made a point to improve on that end and are now ninth in the NBA in defensive rating. Given this, could his positives on offense still override the concerns regarding him on defense?
NT: That's an excellent question and one we wrestled with a lot last season. Miller is no longer a good man-on-man defender. He lost his guy basically every time down the floor when his man would cut through the lane, he won't chase guys and that can cause a defense to go into scramble mode, aka not good mode. He played a ton of minutes under George Karl at the end of games and seemed to wear down at the season progressed. Under Shaw, Miller's minutes were cut way down, but he was also playing out of position (shooting guard and even small forward) as the team was dealing with injuries. He did seem a bit more effective in a reduced role, but he also didn't look to have the speed anymore to really be an effective player on the defensive end. His defense is going to be an issue, unless all this time off has him even more well rested than he was and even more motivated.
BF: Many members of the BF community have been advocating that former Nuggets Head Coach George Karl become the new head coach of the Washington Wizards at some point in the future. SB Nation's Sonics Rising also had a piece that advocated such a move. Since you have experienced seeing Karl for a number of years, would the Washington Wizards make a good fit for him?
NT: With Andre Miller aboard and Karl aboard, y'all would want to pull your hair out after the first couple weeks. Karl would literally play Miller from the middle of the third quarter to the end of the game without rest last season. Karl also used to coach Neńe and I believed maxed out his talent well.
It would be sweet to see how Karl would use John Wall's speed and he'd want to go up tempo in D.C. with his patented high-risk/high-reward defense. If you think the Wizards players would be a good fit for up-tempo play on both ends of the floor, then Karl is your guy. He also loves to play small-ball and if you don't have skilled big men, he will look to replace them with guys that can fit the way he wants to play. We saw Wilson Chandler (6'8") start at center in the post-season against Andrew Bogut over JaVale McGee (I know, I know), Kosta Koufos, and Timofey Mozgov.
BF: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about Andre Miller?
NT: I'm waiting to see if anyone will ask Miller about his time in Denver and if he'll actually answer those questions. He was very candid during his time with the Nuggets and isn't afraid to speak his mind. The younger players in Denver told me that they would go to 'Dre for advice because he has seen it all and offers no=nonsense advice. Also, at the end of games ... be on the lookout for him making his way to the locker room early (he'll drift away from the bench). He'lloften be one of the first guys out of the locker room. He's all business.
Once again, thanks to Nate and Denver Stiffs for helping us with this Q&A.