There were many people that were calling for the Denver Nuggets to decrease the playing time of veteran point guard Andre Miller in the 2012-2013 NBA season. However, with former head coach George Karl running the show, a guy who constantly backed Miller, he continued to be a featured part of their team off of the bench, for better or worse.
Miller played in all 82 games for Denver last season, averaging 9.6 points and 5.9 assists in 26.2 minutes per game while shooting a relatively solid 47.9 percent from the floor. With those numbers alone, it would seem like Miller was about exactly what you would want from a backup point guard. However, that’s not the whole story.
Last year’s Nuggets team, as will likely be the case with this year’s team, is at their best when they are getting up and down the floor and playing a high-possession style. However, at 37-years-old, Miller seemed to constantly come in and kill their pacing that the starting unit would institute. The stats back up the eyes on that, too, as Miller played over a half possession per game slower than the team’s average and a full possession slower than starter Ty Lawson.
The on court/off court numbers are indicative of Miller taking Denver out of their game, as well. In 2151 total minutes on the court, the Nuggets averaged 111.1 points per 100 possessions and defensively, something we haven’t discussed yet, allowed 106.7 points per 100 possessions. In 1828 minutes with Miller off the floor, though, the Nuggets averaged 112.5 points per 100 possessions and allowed only 105.8 points per 100 possessions. For a team that essentially looked to outscore their opponents last season, that’s a noticeable difference with Miller on the court.
Discussing Miller’s defense, he’s really more of a liability on that end of the floor than anything else, which isn’t good news for a mediocre-at-best defensive team in the Nuggets. He allowed 0.9 points per possession defensively last season, which ranked just 279th in the league. Moreover, he struggled mightily in defending spot-up shooters, who averaged 1.11 points per possession and shot 40.6 percent from three against him last season.
With Brian Shaw now in place as Denver’s new head coach, there should be a changing of the guard of sorts with this team. Miller will still be valuable to this young team as a veteran voice and leader in the locker room, but on the floor it seems like the Nuggets would be better suited having new additions Nate Robinson and Randy Foye grab some of Miller’s minutes from last season and see Miller on the bench much more than we did last year. Miller has had a long productive career, but the 37-year-old may be past the point of helping this Nuggets team as currently constructed.