Breakdown of Portland's Andre Miller Acquisition

July 27, 2009

The Portland Trailblazers finally entered the 2009 free agent sweepstakes by completing a deal to bring point guard Andre Miller to the Rose City.

Although the Blazers had been actively trying to acquire a number of different players, including Kirk Hinrich, Paul Millsap, David Lee, and most famously, Hedo Turkoglu, all of those would-be offseason deals failed to materialize.

In particular, the deal to bring in Hinrich from the Bulls would have been an upgrade over incumbent point guard Steve Blake, but that trade hit a snag and never got done. Still, the attempt to acquire Hinrich clearly indicated that the Blazers front office wanted to improve the point guard position.

By signing Miller, Portland essentially got their wish.

With the addition of the 11-year vet, the Blazers will get one of the most consistent, yet underrated point guards in the League. Considered by most to be a "big" point guard at about 6'3" and 200 pounds, Miller will provide the Blazers with a veteran point guard that is solid, if unspectacular on both ends of the floor.

Although by no means a running point guard, Miller's rebounding and passing prowess could lead to improvements in the Blazers' non-existent fastbreak game. Miller has career averages of about 15 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds per contest, while turning the ball over less than three times a game. He currently has the fourth-highest assists total among active players.

Despite turning 33 last season, Miller can be expected to suit up virtually every night, as he has played at least 80 games in nine out of his 11 pro campaigns. In fact, Miller recently enjoyed two of his better seasons while playing for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Going by statistics alone, the past two seasons were Miller’s most efficient since his early days with the Cavs, as he put up 17 PPG, 7 RPG, and 4 APG to go along with 1 steal and only 2.5 turnovers a game in 2007-2008. In 2008-2009, Miller impressively posted 16 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 4.5 APG, with the same amount of steals and even fewer turnovers per game.

But numbers do not equal chemistry. So, the real question becomes what will this move mean stylistically for the Blazers going forward, and was it their best move?

Although Miller is certainly a good playmaker, a solid on-ball defender, and a harmonizing force in the locker room, the Blazers did not necessarily need to spend on a top-tier point guard, as superstar Brandon Roy will likely have the ball in his hands for the majority of the Blazers' possessions.

Instead, Portland would have benefitted best from having a player such as Hinrich that could extend the defense and knock down shots while playing off the ball. Neither one of these elements are considered the strong point to Miller's game, as he is not known to have 3-point range on his still-somewhat inconsistent jumper.

Secondly, the Blazers - most notably head coach Nate McMillan - have said that they wanted to improve their overall team quickness. The signing of Miller does not sufficiently address this concern either, as Miller is by no means considered a quick point guard by NBA standards.

However, given the fact that Miller is an unselfish teammate, has probably 3-4 quality years left in his legs, and is backed-up by lightning-quick youngster Jerryd Bayless, it is likely that Portland is not overly concerned about Miller's perceived lack of foot speed.

Final Analysis 

This is a good move for Portland. Andre Miller will provide veteran leadership to a young starting unit already equipped with two legitimate All-Stars in Roy and the ever-improving LaMarcus Aldridge. The Blazers starting lineup should become:

1 - Andre Miller

2 - Brandon Roy

3 - Travis Outlaw

4 - LaMarcus Aldridge

5 - Greg Oden

By acquiring a solid playmaker and on-ball defender in Miller, Portland has not only strengthened its starting five, but also has improved its bench, as proven performers Rudy Fernandez, Martell Webster, Joel Pryzbilla, Blake, and Bayless all should earn significant minutes as reserves.

Although most of the top teams in the West also made moves to improve their rosters, the signing of Miller will help Portland keep pace while bolstering their quest to become legitimate contenders out West.

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for

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