Before Main Course: Have an Andre…Miller
During the broadcast of Game 5 of the first round matchup between the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers, TNT ran an interview with George Karl in which he made the statement that Andre Miller was unquestionably in his mind a top 10 all time NBA point guard.
Steve Kerr then went on to list the names of legends such as Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Gary Payton, Tiny Archibald, Bob Cousy, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Oscar Robertson, Isiah Thomas and Maurice Cheeks.
The TNT analyst then went on to say that Miller was probably somewhere in the top 15 given the names ahead of him.
Mind you, top 15 would still be rather generous in my books considering that we would be leaving out players such as Mark Price, Kevin Johnson, Chris Paul and a host of other terrific point guards. But Karl and Kerr were not necessarily off in their rankings. Generous perhaps, but Andre Miller has been a consistent and steady point guard in the NBA throughout his career.
Most might not recall, but the Utah product led the league in assists in his third season, playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers — back when they had those black and blue jerseys — and has managed to average 7.2 dimes in his 15 seasons in the NBA.
Also, although it may not be much of a claim to fame, it is widely accepted that the Nuggets back up guard is the best lob passer in the league. Indeed, other than Jason Kidd, rarely have we seen a player anticipate defensive rotations as quickly and throw the ball up with perfect precision and touch at the exact moment that the player becomes open in the half court regardless of the distance between him and his teammate.
Very rarely do we see Miller throw the ball over the head of teammates or throw it too hard. He always manages to find his guys and reward them.
His brilliant playmaking skills were on a full display against the Lakers in Game 5 as he fed Javale McGee on a few occasions over the top of the defense. One of his feeds came in the set offense with him lobbing the ball from the 3-point line, and another one came in transition as he lofted the rock from half court to his big man for a thunderous finish.
And yet, for all of his brilliant passing skills, it bears mentioning that when Kobe Bryant went nuts in the fourth quarter and made a series of ridiculous 3-pointers, the one player that helped the Nuggets avoid an epic late game collapse was Andre Miller.
The former Ute was able to get himself into scoring position and put points on the board while his teammates seemed relatively clueless. Indeed, Miller owned the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points and collecting three assists on 4-for-6 field goal shooting. The Nuggets’ guard not only scored but he served as a terrific quarterback late in the game as the unit of he, Javale McGee, Ty Lawson, Al Harrington and Danilo Gallinari — the squad that closed the game with 2:41 left in the final frame — produced 0 turnovers according to NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.
Miller was at the heart of it all with his willingness to carry the scoring and playmaking burden and that alone spoke louder than his 24 points and eight assists on the night.
The former Clipper has flown under the radar for much of his career, but at least for one night, he flew above it and reminded everyone of his terrific point guard skills.
Can he remain in the spotlight for a little longer?
Tune in for Game 6 in Denver to find out…
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.
Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at JM.Poulard@Warriorsworld.net.