Memphis Grizzlies fans can feel sentimental about Mike Miller's return to Beale Street. Delicate and precise use of the veteran three-point specialist is essential to making this more than a gushy reunion. If the Grizzlies properly inject him in the rotation and set him up, he could boost a weak spot for the team.
Memphis fans shouldn't project an inflated concept of Miller's capacity in this tour with the team with which he spent five-plus years between 2003 and 2008. He won't shoot or hold the ball much. Miller averaged 5.4 shots per game in 2011-12 and 3.9 per game in 2012-13.
Since leaving the Grizzlies, his usage rate hung between 14.4 and 14.9 percent.
Moreover, his value is almost exclusively in his long-range aim. The man who stands 20th all-time in three-point field-goal percentage shot 41.7 percent from downtown last season after placing fourth in the league at 45.3 percent the year before.
While with the Miami Heat, he largely shot from from beyond the arc. Those three seasons saw him take 63.8 percent of his attempts from behind the line.
Miller still puts forth effort on the boards, having amounted an 18 percent defensive rebounding rate. However, this was on a Heat team that placed 24th in the category and didn't have a player with more than eight rebounds per game.
The Grizzlies have plenty of big men whose work on the glass will save Miller's grieving frame from blows.
Protecting Miller's body
Speaking of which, Dave Joerger should monitor Miller's minutes in an effort to reduce the risk of injury. Giving him slightly less than the career-low 15.3 minutes per game would be best.
Joerger won't need to push Miller too hard. Since the Grizz have two backcourt players, Jerryd Bayless and Quincy Pondexter, who will play more than 20 minutes per game, Miller faces no pressure in having to put in more time on the court than would be comfortable.
If the Grizz add Mo Williams, the burden will be even lighter for the 13-year veteran.
Smart use of him on the floor consists of keeping him away from contact, keeping him on the perimeter in the half court and allowing him to rest on some possessions.
They could also limit his time in practice, as the Heat did last season, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Indeed, that doesn't guarantee that Miller, who missed 91 games in the past three years, will stay healthy. His back may act up. Other ailments could surface.
Maximizing his three-point capability
Miller brings a quality that the Grizzlies lack. Finishing No. 24 in three-point field-goal percentage, they had only one player shooting better than 37 percent from distance.
Extracting the optimal contribution from him requires specific use. According to Grantland's Kirk Goldsberry, Miller shoots best from the wings.
The Grizzlies should keep him positioned on the outside so that he stays safe and can easily stand in the right place to knock down three-pointers. He'll maintain separation and eye passing lanes in order to spot opportunities.
Since Miller won't create his own shots, he would enjoy the most success with at least one of the team's two best passers. Marc Gasol may be the best partner for him. Gasol often makes passes from the elbow, which would allow for the best passing angle to set up Miller.
The Spaniard's acute awareness of others' location on the floor will give him a great chance of finding Miller open.
Mike Conley may also succeed in creating looks for Miller. The 25-year-old may move things slowly, but he could guide the ball and facilitate to overextend defenses to open up opportunities for Miller.
The right passes will enable this specialist to tally threes frequently. As that happens, this member of the the first Grizz playoff team may help this incarnation of the grinders further their push in the postseason bracket.