One key part of the improvement by the Cleveland Cavaliers this season has been the play of C.J. Miles.
It’s true that the main reason that the Cavaliers have gotten better as the season has continued has been the addition of several key players, but the improvement by Miles has been significant, even if it has gone largely unnoticed.
The fact is, though, that Miles has gotten so much better that it’s almost like he is a different player now compared to when the 2012-2013 season began.
He was signed as a free agent in the offseason, and Cavaliers fans were hoping for a lot from the 6-foot-6 guard after seeing his success with the Utah Jazz. In seven seasons with the Jazz, Miles put up solid numbers while playing a lot of minutes for a team that was winning games for the most part.
When the 2012-2013 season started, though, Miles looked at times like he left his jump shot and part of his game back in Utah.
In the Cavaliers’ season-opening win over the Washington Wizards, for example, Miles played 18 minutes and shot just 1 for 5 and had three turnovers. He also recorded four rebounds and one assist, but it was not a very good start to the season.
Throughout November, Miles was sporadic at best. In some games, he did not score at all. When the team struggled in November, Miles was not much help and he did not get many minutes, with his playing time dipping to less than 10 minutes on occasion.
In December, Miles started to turn things around and had some big games, such as when he scored 28 points in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers and then scored 28 points again the next night in a loss to the Indiana Pacers.
Now in 2013, Miles has really been pretty good. He is earning around 20 minutes of play in most games, and his shooting has become an important part of the offense for the Cavaliers. Currently, Miles is on a streak where he has hit at least one three-point shot in the last 15 games.
For the season, Miles has now made 117 shots from 3-point range, which is the most of any season in his career. He has taken and made more 3-point shots than any other player for the Cavaliers this season, and he is currently 117 for 304 from the 3-point line.
That puts him at a shooting percentage of 38.5 percent, which is just behind team leader Kyrie Irving (41.4 percent) and Wayne Ellington (39.6).
Miles is also shooting far fewer free throws than most of the Cavaliers regulars, which indicates that he is spending most of his time shooting jump shots rather than driving to the rim. Irving has shot 241 free throws in just 49 games this season, compared to Miles, who has shot 91 in 59 games. Anderson Varejao, who only played in 25 games, shot 102 free throws this season.
Guards Shaun Livingston and Ellington also don’t get to the line much, and this may just be part of the role that head coach Byron Scott wants the three players to take in the offense this year.
Whether he gets to the free throw line or not, though, Miles has been an important veteran presence for the Cavaliers this season and he has provided some key offense at times.
In November, it looked like management made a mistake signing Miles as a free agent; today, he looks like a solid acquisition for the Cavaliers.