Andre Miller Trade Provides Washington Wizards with Right John Wall Mentor

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2014

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The Washington Wizards are reportedly acquiring veteran point guard Andre Miller in a deal that may have more to do with John Wall than it does Miller himself. 

And it took a three-team agreement to make it all happen, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.

That may seem like a lot of trouble to go to for a 37-year-old averaging just 19 minutes per contest, but this deal was less about Miller's production on the court than what he'll bring to Washington's young locker room.

And to John Wall in particular.

Miller's departure from Denver has been all but assured for weeks. He'd been exiled from playing after openly confronting head coach Brian Shaw on Dec. 30. The uncharacteristic display of hostility perhaps said more about how things are going in Denver than it did about the usually professional Miller.

Nevertheless, the subsequent handling of the event left a more sour taste in Miller's mouth. Earlier this month, Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears quoted a source saying Miller was ready to end his tenure with the Nuggets:

The vibe is delusional. It's a burned bridge. No reconciliation. He's waiting by the door with his bag already packed. The relationship is irreparable. Under no circumstances does he want to come back to Denver. Andre hasn't spoken about the situation. He's being quiet out of goodwill.

Though a passionate personality, Miller's actions in this instance shouldn't be conflated with what he'll contribute to Washington's locker room. To the contrary, there are few veteran guards who would provide a budding star point guard with a better role model.

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That's where Wall enters the equation.

He proclaimed himself the league's best point guard in November, a notion most fans outside of Washington deem premature at best. And yet Wall is beginning to rank alongside star floor generals like Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving as the best of what's next. There's no doubting his upside, and it's becoming harder to doubt what he's already doing on the floor.

And to be sure, there's never been any doubt that Wall has the physical makeup to be a truly elite athlete. His production is starting to catch up to that potential. Thus far this season, Wall is averaging career highs with 19.9 points, 8.6 assists and two steals per contest.

The shot still needs some work, but then again Wall is only 23. There's time to fix that. 

Miller probably won't help in that respect—he's made just 22 percent of his career three-point attempts. But until Wall hones his jumper to perfection, Miller can certainly coach him in the arts of making an impact without an elite outside touch. 

He can also help Wall slow the game down some. That's always a challenge for a player who's relied so heavily on his speed and athleticism, but it's been a necessity for Miller, who's never really been blessed with either. Good as Wall has been these last couple of seasons, it's scary to think about what he'll do with improved patience and basketball IQ.

With Miller around, we may begin to see that version of Wall emerge a little bit sooner.

More importantly, Miller will give Wall a crash course in leadership.

Miller is a veteran of five different teams, so he's seen his fair share of locker rooms. Whether that earned him enough capital to justify his insubordination in Denver is an open question. Some see his antics with the Nuggets as proof that not all veterans are created equally.

On the other hand, neither are all organizations. Perhaps Miller had the right to voice his frustrations, even if he went about it too publicly.

Either way, it's hard to imagine Wall can't take something away from those 14 seasons of experience.

At the very least, he may find a calming presence. Wall's mother has been dealing with the kind of health problems that would distract most players, 23-year-olds or otherwise.

Wall has admitted as much (via the Washington Post's Michael Lee): “I was getting frustrated, because you never want to get a phone call at halftime or at the end of the game, and something bad happened. I already lost my dad. You don’t want to lose your other parent.”

On the one hand, Miller can be a source of stability for Wall, the elder statesman who's been there and done that. On the other hand, he can be a source of accountability, filling in for a role previously held by the now-departed Emeka Okafor.

According to Lee, it was Okafor's willingness to confront Wall that helped turn last season around. Wall conceded that the brutal honesty made a difference (via Lee):

"It was just me being young and very frustrated. I wasn’t making anything, turning the ball over, and we lost a lot of games that we should’ve won and I put the toll on me,” Wall explained, as he recalled his emotions before the encounter. “A lot of frustration was coming out. As a veteran and being a leader on the team, [Okafor] stepped up and said something. At the time, it was in the heat of moment. I was upset."

Say what you will about Miller, but he's got the brutal honesty part down. Just ask Brian Shaw.

Chances are John Wall will find his way one way or the other. He's got the talent and attitude alike. But bringing Miller on board should help him realize his potential in shorter order.

He might even make Wall the best point guard in the league.

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