The Washington Wizards have acquired veteran point guard Andre Miller from the Denver Nuggets in a three-team trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.
In order to make the deal happen, the Wizards had to send former number six overall pick, Jan Vesely, to the Nuggets and point guard Eric Maynor to the 76ers. They also threw in a 2015 second round pick to Philadelphia to make the deal happen.
The instant reaction from this trade is that the Wizards will finally have competent backup point guard to relieve All-Star John Wall without there being a significant drop off. Poor backup point guard play has been an Achilles heel for the Wizards all season. They signed Maynor in the offseason hoping he would be able to run the second unit and just not be totally terrible. Well, it turns out he was totally terrible. He saw action in only 23 games this season, averaging 2.3 points per game while shooting 29.2 percent from the field. Garrett Temple was the next man up and even though he had some nice moments, he just wasn’t the guy to lead the second unit. He struggles to get the Wizards in to any sort of offense and his shooting is a liability (35.9 percent from the field). Temple is a solid and long defender, but defense has not been the Wizards’ problem this season. The offense, especially the second unit, has struggled and he just wasn’t the answer.
So is Andre Miller the answer? I’m not totally sure, although I do think he is an upgrade from both Temple and Maynor. The problem is Miller has been on a month-plus hiatus from basketball after an argument with Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, which led to a suspension. Miller has only seen action in 30 games this season, averaging 5.9 points per game with 3.3 assists in 19 minutes of play. Those numbers certainly do not jump out at you, but Miller has been extremely good the last couple years despite turning 38 in March.
Last year for the Nuggets, he averaged 9.6 points per game, dished out nearly six assists, and shot 47.9 percent from the field in 26.2 minutes a game. Those are very productive numbers for a guard in his 14th season. What was even more impressive about Miller was his postseason performance. Even though they lost in the first round to the Golden State Warriors, Miller turned in some solid performances. In Game 1 he scored 28 points in 27 minutes, going toe-to-toe with Steph Curry and scoring the game-winner with 1.2 seconds to go. In the series, he averaged 14 points per game along with 3.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 25.7 minutes a game. Not bad for a 37-year-old.
Miller still has game and sounds like he was working hard in Denver while serving his suspension. Many people are concerned about his age, but the guy has only missed one game the last six years, excluding this year. He is a tough player, who uses an old-school game to outsmart and beat opponents. If he has kept his body in good shape this season then I do not anticipate his health being an issue this year.
I thought the Wizards made a good move going after Miller. He is still a productive backup point guard in this league as we saw last year and he brings playoff experience to a locker room that lacks it. Also, the Wizards did not give up too much for Miller. Vesely was a failed project, who couldn’t find the rotation consistently through almost three years and Maynor could not even get on the court in blowouts. It is certainly a move by an organization that wants to be in the playoffs and make noise in the postseason now. Does adding Miller make the Wizards a team who could win a first round series? It is hard to tell just because we haven’t seen Miller enough this season and at some point everyone’s body breaks down.
All in all, I liked the move. Miller is a guy who can take a ton of stress of Wall, who is relied on way too heavily. He is a savvy, crafty point guard who has been finding ways to get it done for years. Hopefully, he can continue doing that in a Wizards uniform.