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Andre Miller's defense isn't the problem

The Wizards and Andre Miller are offering different explanations for why he's not getting more playing time, but they're avoiding the reality of the situation.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Up until last week, specifically last Wednesday, Andre Miller's been good for about a dozen minutes off the bench to give John Wall enough of a breather to tackle the other 36 minutes. Then, last Wednesday Miller only play 4:46, his lowest amount of playing time all season. At the time, it seemed like a smart move to give Miller some rest, considering the Wizards were wrapping up a rough trip out West.

But then the same thing happened against Toronto. He only played 3:27 last Saturday. Then, on Monday Miller didn't get any playing time at all. When Randy Wittman was asked about it on Tuesday, he had this to say to Jorge Castillo:

"He hasn't missed a game, hasn't missed a practice. It's a time to maybe give him a little rest, too.

Fair enough. But at the time, we were pushing a week where Andre Miller had only played eight minutes on the floor. That amount didn't change on Wednesday or Thursday, as Miller racked up his second and third DNP-CDs of the season. So what's really going on? Well, Wittman hinted at it in that discussion on Tuesday:

"Garrett brings us energy. His defensive tenacity, I thought our bench gave us that last night. I was not disappointed at all in our bench last night. I thought they gave us a good lift. 'Dre's, I just thought also, he's close to my age, isn't he? And I just thought he needed a break."

Ah.

The good news is, Miller is handling everything like a pro and there doesn't seem to be any sort of bitterness. But when Miller was asked about his lack of minutes on Thursday, it seemed like he wasn't ready to take the blame.

"The article that I read noted specifically defense. I don't know where it comes from but it's not really an individual thing. I think it's more team defense. I only play 10 minutes a game. So if that's the reason why he made that decision then I just have to pick it up a little bit more and be ready when my name is called so that's what it is. I have to deal with the coach's decision and be ready."

Miller's right to some extent. The bench's defense has been a swinging gate this season regardless of who is at point guard. While Garrett Temple has provided a slight lift on that end, he can't solve everything.

The real reason why Andre Miller isn't on the floor anymore is because the offense has flatlined with him on the court. After starting out hot alongside the recovering Bradley Beal and streaky Rasual Butler, things have fallen apart for Miller this month. Note the Wizards' offensive and defensive ratings with Miller on the floor:

Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Net
November 107.1 113.5 -6.5
December 100.7 104.4 -3.7
January 92.9 107.0 -14.1

As you can see, the Wizards' defense has been consistently terrible with Miller on the floor. The dirty little secret of the Wizards' success early in the season was that the team was able to survive because the bench was scoring enough to compensate for most of the unit's defensive struggles. But since the Rasual Butler well ran dry, the Wizards' best offensive option off the bench is Kevin Seraphin throwing up a hook shot. And if that's the case, the Wizards might as well throw Garrett Temple out there, because a steal leading to a fast break is probably the Wizards' second best scoring option with the current bench unit.