Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma City Thunder: Mike Miller would be a good fit

by Berry Tramel Modified: July 19, 2013 at 2:30 pm •  Published: July 19, 2013

Our man Darnell Mayberry is reporting that the Thunder is interested in signing Mike Miller, who was amnestied by the Heat this week. You can read RFD’s story here.

I think Miller’s an excellent fit for a Thunder team that could need some offensive help off the bench. Here’s what I like about Miller:

* He doesn’t need to play all the time to be effective. I don’t even mean every game. Miller has missed a ton of games throughout his 13-year career; he’s played 82 games in a season only once, his rookie year.

But he’s learned to adjust. In the just-completed playoffs, Miller played just two of the Heat’s four games in the Milwaukee series, just three of the Heat’s five games in the Chicago series (19 total minutes) and just five of the Heat’s seven games in the Indiana series (including just 61/2 minutes total in Games 2-4).

Then Miller played all seven games of the NBA Finals, started the final four games and, averaged 21:46 minutes per game. In the first three games, Miller made 10 of 11 shots, all but one of them 3-pointers. Then Erik Spoelstra put Miller in the starting lineup for the final four games, and Miller cooled off — he went scoreless in three of those final four games. But in the epic Game 6, Miller was huge — he nailed three of four 3-pointers.

If Miller doesn’t mind that kind of role — long bouts of sitting, then be ready at a moment’s notice to provide instant offense — he’s perfect for the Thunder. OKC doesn’t need Miller to play 24 minutes a game and fill the James Harden/Kevin Martin role. The Thunder needs a veteran shooter who can spread the floor and occasionally give Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook driving room.

If Miller needs to sit out 10 games in a row to heal up, fine. If he needs to avoid back-to-backs, fine. So long as he can give Jeremy Lamb and Reggie Jackson a little relief, and be ready to go in the playoffs, he’s perfect.

* The amnesty is what makes Miller such a good fit. He can come to OKC for the minimum salary and still collect a bunch of money — he was due to make about $6 million with the Heat, who still must pay him. So it’s not like Miller is taking a pay cut to come to Oklahoma City.

* If you lined up every NBA player and staged a shooting contest, Miller would be among the handful of players vying for the silver medal, behind Steph Curry. Miller is a career 40.6 percent 3-pointer shooter, over 3,500 shots and 13 years. Everyone loves Kyle Korver as a long-range marksman; Korver has taken about the same number of 3-point shots as Miller and is shooting 41.9 percent for his career. So Miller is right there with him.

And Miller is getting better, not worse, at the age of 33. In his first four years in the league, Miller shot 38.3 percent from 3-point range. Since then, he’s shot 41.8 percent from beyond the arc. During Miami’s two NBA-title winning seasons, Miller has made 43.2 percent of his shots.

* Miller isn’t much of a defender anymore. I don’t claim to know if he ever was. But this would be an offensive signing, another reason you can’t expect him to get into the 20-minutes-a-game mode.

* Miller also doesn’t drive much anymore. He’s averaged 1.3 foul shots a game for his career. Thabo Sefolosha, who gets fouled about once a month, has averaged 1.0 foul shots a game. So Miller is mostly a stand-still shooter. The Thunder can leave the driving to Westbrook, Durant, Lamb and Jackson.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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