Should Oklahoma City Thunder Pursue Mike Miller?
I suppose that must be water under the bridge now, as Miller has been waived by the Miami Heat (via the amnesty clause) and the Thunder have become the favorites to acquire him, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
Oklahoma City has emerged as a frontrunner to sign free agent Mike Miller, league sources tell Y! Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 18, 2013
Miller, a 13-year veteran, is definitely well past his prime but still has plenty to offer as a role player off the bench, especially for a contending team. But does he fit in with Oklahoma City's roster?
Miller's on-court abilities to spot up and knock down three after three would give OKC a potent scoring boost off the bench in a role similar to the one Daequan Cook played a couple of seasons ago. Additionally, Miller has a respectable amount of defensive talent on the perimeter, which is definitely amplified by his tenacious hustle.
It sounds cliche, but Miller is also one of those guys who will be the first in the gym and the last to go. Even given his older age (33) and limited role with the Heat, he was working just as hard as he always had to keep his game sharp and prepare for his opportunities.
If he does come to Oklahoma City, Miller may be used about as sparingly as he was in Miami. But his role also carries a weight of importance, as he could be a fail-safe in case Jeremy Lamb struggles or gets injured.
More importantly for the Thunder, it's important to build a team of winners. Championship teams must be oozing with guys who want nothing more than to win it all. Mike Miller fits in perfectly with that description, and his team-oriented style of play fits in perfectly with Oklahoma City.
The Thunder have taken some hits over the past two offseasons after being forced to trade James Harden away last year and then losing Kevin Martin to free agency this summer. However, those big subtractions often overshadow the little additions that come along.
Miller would fall under the description of being a little addition, but don't let that take away from his potential importance to the team.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook proved last season that they can still lead their team after losing a key player like Harden, but that was also partly because of the boost received from Kevin Martin in his place. This season, neither Harden nor Martin will be in uniform for Oklahoma City with the bench now being powered by the likes of the more youthful Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb.
Next to Lamb and Jackson, second-year forward Perry Jones III will likely get to see some minutes with the second unit, which will include rookie Steven Adams.
Do you see a theme here? This Thunder bench is incredibly young and pretty inexperienced overall. Adding a guy like Miller to sort of stabilize and lead the younger talent on the court could pay dividends for OKC, who needs significant bench production if it wants to make a deep playoff run this year.
Sure, Miller may not be as spry nor as talented as his benchmates, but he does offer up some important floor spacing that complements Jackson's game very well. Jackson, depending on how quickly Lamb becomes comfortable in his role, is looking like the primary scoring option off the bench, so having Miller there to maximize his effectiveness is a good look.
The fact that Thunder GM Sam Presti is even pursuing Miller with this much interest is a testament to how much he wants to add another piece to the bench. Oklahoma City has developed a reputation for being a draft-and-develop team that doesn't look to free agency very often. In fact, take a look at this list of players whom the Thunder have signed or attempted to sign since 2008, via Royce Young of Daily Thunder.
As you can see, not exactly Earth-shaking types of moves here. Therefore, Presti clearly feels the need to add some depth and experience to OKC's reserves, and a high-character player like Miller fits the bill.
There are some possible downsides for Miller, though, mostly revolving around his nagging injuries. Since the 2009-10 season, Miller has appeared in no more than 54 games during any season and hasn't played a full 82-game season since his rookie campaign.
Taking that into consideration, the risk of Miller missing time during some period of the upcoming season is a high possibility but would essentially be a very minor inconvenience for the Thunder in any case. The great thing about this signing is that it would be a very low-risk, high-reward type of deal because Miller's contributions aren't vital to team success. Whatever he does produce is icing on the cake for Oklahoma City's talent-laden team.
Injuries are a manageable downside, and Miller's certainly displayed enough toughness in recent seasons to show that he can gut through just about anything, often playing on bum hamstrings or, sometimes, a missing shoe.
Would Mike Miller actually produce anything significant if signed by the Thunder?
That shot is a telling testimony to the type of player Miller is and exactly how well he would mesh with the culture in Oklahoma City as well as the mindset for the team. He's relentless on the court, and it'd be thrilling to see him in a lineup with Nick Collison just to see them try to out-hustle each other.
Based on how unstoppable the Heat have looked in recent seasons, plus with the ever-increasing competition in the Western Conference, the Thunder need to load up on whatever weapons they can get. Mike Miller may be a subtle pickup but could prove to be a lucrative one for an Oklahoma City team trying to put together the championship puzzle.
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