Andre Miller is more or less Old Faithful. He doesn’t spout water, but the 38-year-old point guard is as reliable as nature’s ancient relic.
The 16-year NBA veteran’s dependability was proved once again on Friday. Miller was not expected to play versus the Celtics after being traded from the Wizards to the Sacramento Kings on Thursday, but he traveled across the country and passed his physical in time to suit up. He logged 23 minutes and hustled eight points, four rebounds, four assists and two rebounds in the win. Incredibly, Miller hadn’t slept for 30 hours or practiced with his new team.
Miller’s commitment to appear in an insignificant match for a lottery team in mid-February is just one of many reasons why the Kings swapped him for Ramon Sessions. The journeyman spent more than three seasons in two stints playing under head coach George Karl in Denver, where the two thrived together.
“I think he, Andre is not a fast player, but he runs my system really well,” Karl told the media on Friday. “So it’s not necessarily fast break basketball, it’s more pace and energy basketball, smart-decision basketball, good shot basketball, and Andre is an expert on all that.”
Miller added, “I think he (Karl) has a certain level of being comfortable with me and has confidence in me running the team and kind of being an extension of him on the court. So that gives me a little bit of an advantage and more opportunities to be on the court and get away with some things.”
In his prime, Miller was a maestro at the point. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder never featured a prolific 3-ball, but he specialized in scoring in the paint by driving, scooping, backing to the basket and popping short jumpers. For his career Miller takes 60.7 percent of his field goal attempts inside the key, standing with Rajon Rondo (61 percent) and Derrick Rose (57.9).
Over the past few years, the craftsman’s slithery movements have come to be more predictable, but his court vision and passing touch have ripened like central valley wine. The NBA leader in assists back in 2002 thinks two steps ahead with his ball decisions, which was still evident in his Kings debut.
“It was just kind of a no-brain trade for me,” Karl emphasized. “This team has a passing inadequacy at times, and you’re putting a Hall of Fame passer on your court that I think can help everybody, can help all the wing guys.”
Miller told reporters that he plans to play beyond this season before he suited up for his first game in a Kings uniform. It’s feasible considering Miller remains durable as ever, never suffering a serious injury. But as nights his legs feel weak increase, it will harm his well-positioned yet below-average perimeter defense.
Ideally, Karl would like to run Miller around 15 minutes a game backing up Darren Collison. The 70’s baby is strictly a one-guard at this stage and hasn’t defended two’s for years, but Collison can slide over if necessary. Karl won’t ask Miller to score as he did in the past, but he’ll need to initiate the offense and take care of the ball. Not a problem for a player whose career turnovers per 36 minutes are less than Jason Kidd’s.
Looking ahead, Ray McCallum should eventually cut into Miller’s playing time, but the apprentice still has much to learn. The man they call “The Professor” will be expected to provide a steady hand to direct the second unit and prevent the implosions Sacramento has become accustomed to.