Staking A Claim: Andre Miller’s “Defense”

Staking a Claim is a new column that will be taking a look at all things Nuggets through the eyes of an outsider. As those who follow me on Twitter know I am a Bucks fan, so it will give Nuggets fans an opportunity to see things through the eyes of someone who follows the team closely but isn’t necessarily a fan. Please leave any subjects that you would like to see addressed in the future in the comments below or send them to me on Twitter @Matt_Cianfrone.

In the past few weeks there has been a dominant discussion in the comments section of just about every game recap: The staff here at Roundball Mining Company has been too harsh to Andre Miller.

Many people see his offensive line and wonder how we could give Andre such a good grade because he “kept the Nuggets in the game,” others say docking him for his defense as much as we do is not fair because he is old, slow and generally nonathletic.

What we keep trying to get across though is that the grades aren’t because Miller is bad at defense, again we don’t expect him to shut down Tony Parker or Chris Paul, but the problem is just a lack of effort.

Thanks to help from Cole Patty from the Portland Roundball Society, I have five videos from the first three quarters of the recent game against the San Antonio Spurs; which I recapped and was criticized for my grade on Miller because of his defense, to show just exactly what I am seeing that makes me kill Miller’s grades so much.

The videos will start from the simplest problems, those that you can live with if they happen once and a while and gradually get worse and worse; unfortunately the final three are just head scratchers that should not be happening.

The first play I will show comes from the 1:50 mark of the first quarter.

Before I get into what Miller did wrong on this play let me preface this by saying out of all the plays I have to show this is one of the plays where if Miller could have made a difference is in doubt. There is a chance that even if Miller did everything right, Tim Duncan still scores but there is also a chance that Miller at the very least could have made Duncan earn his points from the line.

The play starts and Miller does a good job of rotating to Ginobili, but after that all the good stops.

Once Manu gave the ball up Miller should have rotated down to Boris Diaw to take away the potential pass from Duncan. Instead he stands still and when Duncan beats Wilson Chandler to the basket with a pump fake, Miller is not able to step in and create a bit of resistance like he would have if he had properly dropped down to Diaw. Once Duncan misses though, it really shows the impact of Miller’s lack of effort. If he had dropped down to Diaw, Miller is at least in position to box out Duncan on his original shot. At the very least Miller could have fouled him and make him earn the points from the line. Instead Miller never travels back into the paint and Duncan gets an easy two points.

The second play comes in the last ten seconds of the third quarter.

In this play Miller makes two really bad plays. First he is way too far off of a corner shooter as he starts the play for some random reason down at the block helping nobody. It would have been one thing if Miller jumped down to that spot mid-play to help on the pick-and-roll but no, he just never moved from that spot. Instead Miller takes great pick-and-roll coverage from JaVale McGee and turns it into three points.

As you can see in the play JaVale levels Ginobili off very well, cutting off his straight line to the basket and instead forcing him more towards the baseline. Unfortunately for the Nuggets that good job of defense ends up being a really bad play when meshed with Andre Miller’s defensive scheme.

What ends up happening is Manu drives right towards the baseline and in front of Miller before dishing the ball to Miller’s man in the corner, effectively screening Miller with both himself and McGee. Not that it matters though, because as you see, Miller couldn’t be bothered to take a step or two towards the corner after the pass anyway.

Does Miller block the shot if he runs out? No. But he may have caused Corey Joseph to rush it a bit by providing even token effort.

Those first two plays are both frustrating, but at least understandable if they only happen every once and a while (for Dre it is more common than that though), but the final three plays I have are almost inexcusable.

This play comes first of the three because it ended up hurting the Nuggets least, coming at the 1:30 mark of the first quarter.

Miller did everything right to start the play. He sprinted back in transition, got into position on the block and waited. Then the Andre Miller effort came into play.

Instead of trying to take a charge or force Kahwi Leonard to give up the ball, Andre decided to let him go right past him and executes a perfect ole move. Miller is literally right in the way of Leonard and the basket and just turns away from the whole play as Leonard goes by him. Luckily for Dre, the Nuggets have other players back to put pressure on the shot and it is missed, but the fact that Leonard was able to get a layup when Miller was in the perfect position to stop it is terrible.

The final two plays are two examples of why I typically downgrade Miller’s grades because of his defense as both of them happen multiple times a game.

The first is the breaking of one of the most basic defensive fundamentals out there, I know it is because I teach it to the high school and middle school teams I coach on day one of practice, and typically they don’t mess it up after that.

I actually mentioned this play in the comments to someone in the Spurs recap because it stood out so prominently to me.

Two of the most basic rules of man-to-man defense in basketball are never turn your back to your man, and never turn your back to the ball. Yet every game, three or four times Andre Miller turns his back to his man and completely loses track of him.

First Miller turns his back to his man as he crosses the top of the key and he never really finds him again, which is problematic in two ways. First Joseph went to the corner to spot up; only the most efficient three pointer in the game, and Miller never knew exactly where in the corner he was. If the Spurs wanted to they had a pretty easy corner three there since, as we saw earlier, Miller probably would not have attempted to close out to the shooter. But Andre compounds his mistake as Joseph takes the smart play and breaks right for the rim as the ball handler dribbles at him for a wide open layup, since Miller never moved from his spot on the hash mark.

As I said before the worst part of this play is that for Andre Miller it happens typically two or three times a game and is just basic fundamentals.

The final example I have is one that more clearly than any other shows the lack of effort Andre Miller puts forth at times on the defensive end of the floor.

Miller gets screen by Dejuan Blair early in the Spurs motion and decides that after that screen he will take the rest of the play off. Now Miller’s pointing as Parker brings the ball up seems to show he understands the screen is coming, (or it is random Andre Miller pointing which also happens and causes confusion) so why he decides to give up after he gets hit is strange.

He just takes a step back towards the three point line and watches instead of chasing Blair down to the paint to try and rebound when the corner three is taken. Instead by hanging out on around the three point line he makes the rest of his teammates have to work extra hard to cover for him in their rotations and leaves the team shorthanded in rebounding after the scramble. This was not the only time that Miller stopped playing after being hit with a screen in this game, but it was the most obvious so I choose it to show.

These videos explain why exactly myself at least, and I assume some of the other graders; give Miller such a hard time about his defense. It has nothing to do with not being able to do the job at a high level, that isn’t expected. It is about following basic principles and giving a real effort.

Until Dre starts to do that for a full game, I will continue to ding his grade for it.

Thanks again to Cole Patty for grabbing the videos for me. If interested please follow Cole on Twitter @ErickLampier and join us in the Daily Dime Live chats to talk basketball as it happens. 



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  • steve

    Im with ya…i always have been. I know Dre is a solid player and yes he probably wins the same amount of games as he loses for us. But it’s frustrating to watch him on both sides of the ball. The NOH game that we lost the streak on almost made me break my TV. He was pathetic. We never got into rythym on offense and he refused to play D that game. I’d rather get someone in there that plays all out just like every other Nug does just about. He’s a lazy veteran. I just wish Karl wasn’t all over his nuts and would bench his booty every so often. Yank him out after 1 bad play and make him sit the rest of the game like he does with Faried, Mcgee, AR, Hamilton etc. But then again, that would probably happen every third game and he would b*tch and complain and would want to leave…which i’d be fine with honestly.

  • Chris

    This is embarrassing.

  • googergieger

    Actually only one person “defends” Miller by saying he can’t shutdown Westbrook and it is shame on us for saying he can. Despite the fact no one at all has ever called for him to be a shut down defender, and only want him to make the most basic of effort on defense, because when he wants to be he can be an above average defender. At the very least he can stay with spot up shooters like your Novak’s.

  • Mark

    Thank god for this article. Casual fans look at Dre’s stat line after a win, and completely miss out on his defense, selfishness, and decision making that is counter productive on a team that could use a smart veteran at times. On both ends of the ball, he is frustrating. As shown here, his defense is lazy, and deplorable. On offense, he is inconsistent, selfish, and plays in a style that is the opposite of what our team is built to do (run). You guys cannot criticize or downgrade him enough, because he can do better. It is not a talent issue with Miller, it is an attitude problem. I cannot wait to see him either retired or in a different uniform.

    • Bill

      It’s easy to find casual fans, all they care about is offense.

  • Legalize Denver Nuggets

    Thanks Matt- video really helps my instincts here. I’m still learning what to look for while analyzing defense so some this really does help me… actually I take that back. Most of the time I experience my face and palm connecting it’s related to Andre on offense, now I have a feeling this phenomena will occur at a higher rate than before. So dang it Matt- my vision of Nuggets games may be forever obstructed by your insight. But seriously, I appreciate taking the time to point out some specific examples. This is just me still learning the game, but sometimes I can listen (in my head) to you guys talk about defensive motion a lot, and think I know what you (RBMC writers) are talking about, but the visuals really help me learn what exactly you mean with your language. I’m still learning bball lingo, especially on the defensive end.

    What I can’t understand is how this all seemingly gets looked over by the coaching staff. These plays are not isolated experiences. How does Miller get a pass? Ultimately this pass is what makes Andre’s D as turrible as it is. GK wouldn’t let our other guys get away with this. But as I’ve stated on this site before, getting that pass, or respect, may be the only reason Miller is even playing as well as he is now. It just seems like a losing battle either way though- either you respect Miller and receive a guy who is talented, but selfish on offense and a defensive liability, or you say to him he has to earn his mins, which will throw his ego off, and make him (even more so) disinterested in the Nuggets. His sulking attitude needs to go and some sort of humbling experience needs to happen for him professionally so he can accept his role moving forward. I wouldn’t want a player on my team who thinks he has nowhere to improve. But of course he will be on an NBA team until he dies or decides to retire even if he never fixes his attitude. It’s time the Nuggets and Miller move their separate ways however. We don’t need this- we need players who want to make the jump from good to great, they need to be able to earn their mins based on their effort on the defensive side of the floor, and we certainly don’t need players who operate as though they are above that (I guess unless they actually are, you know, like a superstar (GK- this might hurt, but Andre Miller is not a superstar in the NBA today. Or ever. I know it’s a lot to take in)). It starts to just come off as Andre taking the NBA for all its worth- as long as they keep paying him, he’ll keep playing. But I guess I would too if I were in his position. I just hope he isn’t as sad and empty of a person as he sometimes comes off as. Like seriously- is the dood depressed?

  • ahmed

    During free agency i was really hoping that we would have signed Jason terry instead of dre. Terry would be a perfect fit for Karls 2 Guard lineup and he fits better with our style of play.

  • Snuggets

    This article is truly embarrassing. Spending this much time bad mouthing a player on a 50-24 team, for what purpose? To prove that all your constant ranting about how crappy Andre Miller is at back-up PG is valid? Meanwhile, it’s not just GK who understands the value of a veteran guy like Miller and his seen and unseen contributions to this team, but listen to any opposing teams broadcasters or coaches on any given night and it’s clear the respect this man has throughout the NBA.

    • Kalen

      It blows my mind how anyone could label this article “embarrassing.” Whats embarrassing is the fans’ unwillingness to acknowledge the reality laid out directly before their eyes. There’s no reason we should have to go this far and dig up tape just to prove something you should already be familiar with as a fan of this team. The perpetual attitude of incredulous, and blantanly ignorant, repsonses to our dockig of Andre Miller in our Rapid Reactions should end immediatley following the publication of this article. Nobody is saying Andre Miller is a bad teammate or cancer to this team. He’s a great offensive player and solid backup point guard. But basketball has two modes: offense and defense. If you disregard one half of the game, exactly how valuable are you to your team? This article is a fact — plain and simple. If you do not wish to acknowledge it, I’d wish you luck in your delusional formation of what you believe this team is and what it’s capable of — especially in regards to Andre Miller’s contributions.

      • Snuggets

        I don’t think there’s any need to be insulting in the discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of a team that people who come to this site are all passionate about. For that reason, I apologize for saying the article is “Embarrassing.” That was unnecessary. It is not embarrassing, it’s just frustrating when so much effort is put into explaining the deficiencies of one player that as part of a whole adds more value to this team than his sometimes lackluster defense detracts. Andre Miller’s contributions on the court are hard to calculate when you look at him from an individual perspective as opposed to a team perspective. He creates open looks not just for himself, but also for his teammates. When he has floor space, he is able to draw defenders incredibly well, and then push the ball out to players for easy shots, or those amazing lobs for which the Nuggets have become known. With Wilson Chandler playing as well as he has been (his ability to hit open shots, defend the perimeter and rebound) Miller’s offense efficiency becomes even more potent. It is true that his defense can be a liability, but this same thing can be said for one of the greatest PGs to play the game since Stockton: Steve Nash. What he creates on offense far outweighs his low quality defensive, and with quality guards, as is the case with Miller, some of his deficiencies can be masked. There are very few players with a complete game on both sides of the floor. I am not a delusional fan, I just think you could commit an equal amount of time divulging video evidence of the many plays created by miller, plays that very few point guards have the fundamental basketball IQ to create. I’m not a crazed Andre Miller fan, just a huge fan of this squad and the contributions each player is able to make in a team effort as opposed to individual effort. It’s very special and unique in the NBA. Also, I believe when you start picking on a player and looking for mistakes and missteps, you can dig up dirt on anyone. Don’t assume just because I believe Miller’s contributions outweigh is deficiencies means I am an uninformed, delusional fan. And again, I apologize for saying the article was embarrassing. It was well written, well conceived and levied a strong argument, one that I just happen to disagree with.

        • Henson

          I don’t see how you can defend the kind of defense Miller displayed in these videos. He lacked basic basketball knowledge and, more importantly, the requisite effort. Miller takes defensive possessions off and it is very noticeable. This wouldn’t be a problem, I don’t think, if he wasn’t a 30 minute-minute-a-night player on this team. Karl leans on him and, at times, his defense is a huge liability.

          That being said, his steady offense and veteran leadership are more than welcome on the team. But you can’t defend his defense.

          • Snuggets

            I never defended his defense. I actually acknowledged it as a liability. My argument is simply that sometimes it’s easy to pick on players when you only see where they are lacking. In my opinion Miller’s upside is big enough that I still want him in the game. I was also pointing out that Nash, one of the greatest PGs to ever play is often called out for the same lackluster defense as Miller, but his upside and leadership is such a boon to any team that the pros outweigh the cons. I believe this is the way Karl sees Miller. Not saying he is a Nash caliber point guard, but he is a great leader. And I know for a fact that Nash’s defense drives people out here in LA crazy, but any team would be lucky to have him, especially as a back-up. Miller is a great back-up for this team. Ty is clearly the future, and hopefully Stone can take over back up duties at some point when Miller retires or leaves.

            • steve

              snuggets…They write this stuff up because they can. They do video write-ups all the time showing different nugs players for good and bad. This is no different than what they’ve done in the past. If you dont like it, move on. Even if you disagree, just state your point and let it be. Just don’t come on here and tell them they shouldn’t do a write up on a player just because we are a winning team or for whatever other childish reason you gave above. This is a freakin blog. It’s here for them to write about however they feel. Don’t be a hater like the bunch of morons on other sites and ruin this for us.

        • mike

          I totally agree with you. Kalen you rant how bad andre miller is all the time its pathetic. Whos a better back up point guard in the league then andre miller…….The answer is NOBODY. You pick apart his game just to prove some sort of point. REAL BASKETBALL people know how important he is to our team. Its EMBARRASSING you dont .

      • Chris

        I want to clarify that when I used the word “embarrassing,” I was referring to YMCAndre’s defensive effort.

    • Bill

      Oh noes, somebody pointed out a flaw in a player! oh the humanity! how could they??? we have a good record so nothing negative should ever be mentioned!

  • Cory

    If you want to call this bad mouthing Snuggets, go ahead. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that Andre allows his man to run free and give up buckets while the team fights to not give up easy buckets. Please don’t come back during playoff time while Andre Miller is getting torched on threes and say look at the record. Because the playoffs is a season in its own right and this guy will be getting lit up for threes and jump shots(Stephen Curry, SA second round, Westbrook) assuming we make it that far. The playoffs is a measuring stick regular season is for seeding.

  • Cory

    Hey Matt. Nice article. Hopefully this is seen as an area that needs to be improved upon to our lovely nuggets fans. This is probably the worse of the sorts among other things like 3 pt. shooting, but can you really put together an article of how atrocious our 3 pt. shooting can be? If so cool! Appreciate the insight.

  • dave clark

    The writers here need to stop giving so much credence to the comments section. If you get 100+ comments on your articles on a regular basis, the message you should be getting is “Yay! People are reading!” If you want to hate on AM then fine, go ahead, you are the writers and we are the readers. You outrank us. That said, it’s only natural that your work is going to inspire some disagreement. This is the internet, for god’s sake. While this article is not particularly petulant or aggressive (in the way that some (one) of the writers on here can be), it has no reason to exist. You are allowing yourselves to get drawn into the comments section fray and that reeks of amateur hour.

    • Matt


      I understand what you are trying to get at with your post but my viewpoint on the issue is a bit different. When I do 5-on-5’s for the main ESPN site I do avoid the comment section, there are just too many people that end up drawing the conversation away from any relevant topic. But on a site like this with a very specific audience the comments section is an important resource. If we see things constantly popping up in the section as discussions it shows us that it is something our readers care about. That sometimes means it turns into longer posts. In the end if most of the commenters comment the same thing on a lot of different posts we can gain insight on things they want to read. I have taken other ideas from comments and actually have had people ask me to do something like this before when I mention the problems in my grades. Why leave readers out in the dark if they may not see the same type of things that I do? Now hopefully when I mention things in my grades people will understand, or at least have a post to base it off. With a site like this interaction with readers and commenters is something I feel is very important. Our goal is to keep people informed about the Nuggets and teach them some things here and then about them and the game. Seeing what they are talking about and want to discuss is part of that.

      • dave clark

        Fair enough and well said. Nonetheless, there has been so much focus on this one topic on RMC lately (in the grades, in writers’ responses in comments, etc.) that it feels less like a topic of mutual interest and more like bone-picking, or dead-horse kicking. To me it gives the impression that the writers here want to force a consensus that is just not going to exist, that doesn’t need to exist. Engaging with your audience is fine, but pandering to and/or getting drawn into an argument with a particularly vocal subset of your readership is not constructive.

        All I’m really saying is, don’t worry so much about what we say. I, for one, would much rather see a video analysis of, say, Evan Fournier’s recent game, or a discussion of Andre Iguodala’s monetary worth to the nuggets, than read about why Andre Miller is a hack for the bazillionth time. That’s all.

        • dave clark

          And I’m going to add this: you, Matt, are not really who I am referring to here. If you want an example of what has really been turning me off to this site lately, look up above at Kalen’s response to a different reader. As the writers here you should carry yourselves with some dignity, rather than with childish hostility. But I keep reading anyways, so whatever.

          • Kalen

            Dave, if I have been turning you off I apologize. I’d also encourage you to point me towards which phrases I’ve written that specifically bother you. I always thought I’ve been fairly good about addressing issues and readers in general, so if you happen to remember a specific instance or two, please feel free to e-mail me so that I can understand what I’m doing wrong.

            I do admit the above comment of mine may have had a bit of hostility; however this is a subject I feel strongly about. Matt has been unfairly lambasted in so many more ways than one since arriving here, and frankly, I’m fed up with it. He’s offered up some of the best technical analysis any Nuggets blog has ever posted yet people insult him simply for being a Bucks fan? I’m sorry, but that kind of NBA jingoism will not fly on my watch. If you happen to disagree about the positive effect Miller has on the Nuggets, that’s perfectly fine and I’d encourage everyone to do so. But his defense and its negative impact on the other four guys on the floor with him actually trying to stop their opponents simply cannot be argued, as many fans attempt to. I guess that’s all I’m trying to say.

            Your advice in general is great and something I’ve always tried to take to heart. To be completely honest, for a while I tried avoiding comments because I was tired of the negativity but due to a recent uptick in personal attacks I’ve had to start reading them again in order to delete the inappropriate ones. But put yourself in our shoes for a minute. We’re all only human. In essence we’re just sports fans who love to write about our team. We’re not paid. We don’t like having to moderate comments and read personal attacks on readers and ourselves. We try to be as thick-skinned as possible and approach our readers with respect, but at the end of the day we all have a boiling point and certain intolerances we struggle to stay silent about. I guess this just so happens to be mine.

            If I have offended you in any way I apologize sincerely. I really do. That’s never my intention and I’m embarrassed it’s gotten to this point. Hopefully you can understand where I’m coming from and forgive me for whatever ill-advised things I’ve said in the past.

            As always, thanks for reading!

            — Kalen


    why NOT TERRY ?

    poor Karl , pooor Miller Old s**t


    15% 3 point ! GO MASAI , TRADE HIM

  • http://espn herpderpnuggets

    Glad this article was written. As of late i have been really irked by Andre’s complete lack of effort on defense…although I do respect him as a player the lack of effort is really frustrating to watch.

  • 86Elwayfan

    Hey Matt, Thanks for all of the insight you put into this article. you showed exactly why I have a strong distaste for Miller, particularly when he is on the floor in the final 3 minutes. It seems to me that a lot of his defensive mishaps (as you pointed out) do not come from him not being capable but rather just not caring. At least the former is somewhat excusable. This being my first real season as an avid follower of the NBA I had a hard time explaining to friends why I don’t like Miller other than saying he is just lazy. Again thanks for the post will be sharing this as justification for not liking the King of YMCA basketball in the NBA.

  • Bill

    I’ve only seen a few people trying to defend Miller, regardless this is a good article.

  • Stunt

    Excellent article. Really shows the way these lapses affect the defensive rotations, and solidifies that these errors aren’t due to ability, but due to effort. While I find his pace on the offensive end of the floor equally frustrating, those often stem from the fact that he’s just not that great of a fit for this roster and style. Defensively, though, he should be able to shore this up rather quickly if he could be troubled to give a damn.

    • Dubz

      I can see where you’re coming from but I think he SHOULD be a fantastic fit for this team. There have been numerous games where Miller has come in and completely thrown off the opposition by changing up the Nuggets attack from Lawson’s go go go style. As many have pointed out, this doesn’t always happen often due to his effort or lack there of. Miller’s defense can truly be infuriating and there are time’s when you can see his teammates are visibly frustrated by the opposing teams ability to score at ease. I hope he steps up his effort for the playoffs or he’s going to do a lot of damage. Unfortunately, we don’t have anyone else who’s truly capable of leading this team right now at the PG with Ty down (No Fournier is not ready and Stone isn’t quite there either). We’re stuck with him for now so let’s hope for the best. On a side note, a back up PG who can shoot is starting to become my number 1 priority in the draft.

  • markos

    hey guys check out this young kid from Greece !!! he declared for this years NBA draft! he has amazing potential , he looks like Kevin durant in style of play and size!

    • John in LA

      Holy Crap…. Nice find.

      • John in LA

        Unfortunately, we’d have to either lose the rest of our games, or trade up to get him… I bet he goes high teens low 20s… a lot of 1st round guys were unimpressive during the Tourney…

        You’re right though perfect fit for a stocked team… pick up a young talented International player that can season overseas for a few more years…

        • markos

          i think his potential for his age and size with also jis ball handling and explosivness make up an amazing package for this kid!

          • markos

            also i forgot to say that Ujiri was in Athens to watch him play and he was awe of his size and skills

        • idlejack

          Let me also add

          He is an extremely talented guy but he’s not going to be higher than 25th pick.
          So if nuggets want him they can get him for sure.
          And the best thing they can do is leaving him in Europe to get professional experience (I think he has already sign in Zaragoza) for a couple of years.
          I really like this kid[i’ve watched 5 games of his team(A2 league in greece) and also his guest appearance the greek All-Star Game] but at this moment he’s just a big big bet.

  • Cephus

    Informative & damming ! I’m grateful & yet burdened for & by the knowledge . Hopefully Andre shifts it into gear when playoffs come. It’s all academic if Ty’s foot doesn’t cooperate but I’m grateful to this website for making these facts available.

  • Ckwizard

    Easy to say that the most prominent comment generating posters on this board are consistantly frustrated by Miller’s lack of defense. For all of Miller’s accomplishments on offensetthefact is this ” 100-99 ” Spurs beat te nuggets by One posession or only one point. Miller gave the spurs the win by his play on defense. Yes this could be said of any other player but the difference between Miller and any other Player getting beat is that with Miller it is a matter of effort while with most other players they are still giving effort. Everybody seems to like Brewers defense, problem is Brewer gives up easy baskets a lot especially after he Gambles the difference is Brewer gives up an easy basket because he tried to generate a turnover, Miller gives up easy baskets because he stops giving effort. It is easy for a fan like me to not be a fan of a paye who doesn’t give effort especially when a person like me would lose his job or rather miss put on promotions if I approached my job that way… It is really a societal problem I guess every once in a while I get an employee who thinks they get to pick and choose when it is okay to give the expected effort for a task or to give a half assed attempt, My customers don’t put up with that mentality and as a Boss I don’t either. But like some fans and people on this sight there are customers that dont give a crap and will accept poor quality/customer service because they dont expect better or know tat better is possible. Millers performance is ultimately GK’s responsibility and it is obvious that GK doesn’t give a crap either. Good thing for GK and the Nuggets ownership that the majority of fans are too stupid to know they got shafted out of something better simply because try are satisfied with what they have…

  • theo

    Late to the discussion. Appreciate the nice thread and your work, Matt. I have a little different view, though. I raised questions previously about how video could show the difference between A) a 37 year old point guard that knows he doesn’t have the athletic ability at this point to make most of these plays–for example, running out to contest a 3 effectively or moving laterally to cut off a guy much quicker than himself–and conserves his energy to do the things he can and B) a lazy player that just doesn’t care about defense. Saw little in the videos to change my mind. I’m not one of those normally upset at the grading of Miller; as I’ve said a couple of times, he brings some great things and some really poor things to the table. My beef has been the idea that he just doesn’t care about defense and/or is lazy.

    He’s a poor defensive player with shaky fundamentals in some instances and always has been, so no real news there. I think most folks here understand that.

    But is he lazy and doesn’t care about D? Not convinced even after looking at the vids. What point would there be for him to make the token gesture of a taking a few steps out toward a shooter in the corner when there is no chance he can get there in time or really apply any pressure? And even if he did, how would his 6 inch leap intimidate a dude that is getting 2 feet or more off the floor when releasing his three. I see a vet that conserves his limited energy and current athletic ability to contribute what he can. Here’s a key issue, too. Every coach that’s coached this guy loves him–I mean, really loves him. As you know from experience, Matt, coaches are sticklers for fundamentals and details. If his coaches over the years really thought he was a lazy guy that didn’t give a rip about D, it’s hard to imagine they would universally praise him the way they do. The only way to reconcile this fact with what you showed on the video is that his coaches–who have watched hundreds of hours if not thousands of hours of tapes of Dre’s D–take my point of view. Again, we’re not talking about casual fans that just look at offense–we’re talking about some of the best bball minds in the world who talk in reverent tones about YMCA. I mean, they really do.

    • Snuggets

      Bingo. I don’t think anyone is arguing that Miller is a great defender. The fact is, he’s a veteran that knows his strengths and plays to those strengths the best he can. The fact is, just like with Steve Nash, you can create lineups that mask the lack of defense, while still reaping the benefits of his ability to run the offense. Luckily, the Nuggets have a lot of options. That’s a credit to this organization knowing how to put the right pieces together so that more often than not the lineups work. Do they work every time? No? Does Miller get caught with his pants down on defense from time to time? Definitely, but I think it’s a little crazy to mount an argument that the guy straight doesn’t care. And George Karl is not one to let players get away with not putting in the effort. If he thinks you aren’t making good quality decisions on both ends, he will sit you. Clearly Miller is just playing to his abilities as a 37 year back-up PG, albeit imperfectly at times.

    • Matt


      Not sure I am going to change your mind about this, and that is fine but just wanted to answer some of the questions you asked.

      First, there is a bit that even just taking a step or two towards a shooter can do. With some players it can cause them to rush things just a bit. Players don’t like when people come towards them even if they aren’t super close. In that San Antonio game a couple of the plays that Miller did not close out on involved Cory Joseph, a young player with not a ton of NBA experience trying to make an impact in his few minutes. That is exactly the type of player a couple of steps can effect. But letting someone take a wide open warm up jumper with no one even making an effort to contest them is much easier to make than one when someone is at the very least coming towards you.

      As for coach’s praising him I have no way to answer that, nor do I think it should change my judgement on what I see. For all we know Miller does get yelled at behind closed doors about this stuff, but the fact of the matter is the Nuggets have no place else to go right now. I also find it hard to imagine after Andre’s comments about more playing time in February those feelings are still the same. Even if they are, coaches play players who make effort mistakes, it just is a part of the game. I watch it almost every time I am not watching Denver with Monta Ellis. But just because it happens and coaches say good things about a guy or he still gets time does not make it ok or mean that I have to like it. As a coach myself this bothers me a ton because it is correctable. Like I said the first clip with Duncan is fine in spurts. But when Miller lets someone run by him in transition despite being in the right spot, or quits on a play after being screened like in the final clip, that bothers me.

      Also for all the good talk we hear, the fact of the matter is we almost never hear bad words about a player from coaching staffs or teammates until players or coaches leave. That is when the true tests come. You really can’t bad talk someone who is on your team and getting minutes for you.

      Finally I just ask what you think about the play where Dre quits after getting screened or the one where he oles Kawhi? Is that ok to you? And what do you attribute being in the right place and moving or backing away from all the action of a play and refusing to get back into it, if not effort? Just trying to see where the other view is so I can have a bit more understanding about where you are coming from.

      But thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, it is very much appreciated.

      • theo

        On the same page re his defense. Both of us agree he’s a poor defender. He really hurts us on the defensive end in a number of ways. Particularly on the perimeter. Particularly when he plays 40 minutes a game. We differ on the reason why.

        I prefer to focus on the fact that he’s a 37 year old point guard that’s missed about 5 games his whole career due to injury and has been a starter almost that whole time. Huge number of NBA games as a starter. I mean, unless you’re 25 years old and don’t get it, the mileage and time does eventually add up on the joints and athletic ability. Players that continue to play on the perimeter into their late 30’s are guys that learned a long time ago how to manage what they can and can’t do.

        I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he’s set records for fewest missed games due to injury over his career. Again, he stays within himself and knows his strengths and limitations. No mystery why coaches love him so much. He’s a guy with limited athletic ability that has started his whole long career in the NBA among far better athletes because of his mind and strength of will and because he gets the game better than most coaches. I understand why you have nothing to say about the literal reverence coaches and NBA FO’s have for the guy. He’s the definition of the less athletically talented guy from Compton who made it out and started for many years in the NBA on the strength of his freaky Bball IQ. Coaches love that kind of stuff.

        Feeling like this is an age related difference in takes.

        • Joel

          To me, there are a couple glaring flaws in your take there, Theo.

          First, you kind of make it sound like he’s 87, not 37. It’s not as if he’s hobbling around the court with a cane in one hand, dribbling with the other. Sure, he’s not the quickest or most athletic guy in the world, but within those limitations he does display a great deal of mobility which can often be seen on the offensive end. And it’s not as if he’s in lousy shape or anything. Other players on the team get to huffing and puffing a lot quicker than he does. I’m not buying that he would break down so quickly if he put in more effort on defense, that his lack of trying boils down to an attempt to presere his body. I mean, ostensibly, if you’re in the NBA, competing at the highest level of the game of basketball, you should *probably* have the physical capability to do a little more on defense than literally standing around and watching the opponent score, right? (Or not watching, when he gets turned around).

          Which brings me to the second point, which is that while Matt assembled a useful collection of bad defensive plays here to illustrate his previous points, the fact is that Miller’s defense isn’t *always* bad. His lack of effort is selective, or maybe random would be a better word. But there are times when he exerts himself, too. And the fact that he is capable of showing defensive effort some of the time, and offensive effort most of the time, most reasonably leads to the conclusion that there’s really no excuse for not putting in that level of effort all of the time.

          The only last comment I’d like to make, and this is not directly in response to you, Theo, but in response to the general issue of what some call “bashing” players:

          We’re here to share our best possible critical analysis of Denver Nuggets basketball with the fans. And the emphasis is on the “critical.” Now more often than not, this ends up being negative criticism. But why is that? Because as supporters of the team ourselves (and I’ll include Matt de facto), we want to see this team succeed. And the best way for the Nuggets to improve is to address their weaknesses. It may be low hanging fruit, but it also tends to be important.

          But I haven’t seen anyone here point out Kalen’s recent “JaVale is a good dude” post as an example of us being overly positive. For my part I’ve done three film room posts on Andre Miller. The first showcased the talent of the two Andres when they were with the 76ers and beat Denver. The second on Miller’s clutch time execution vs. the Pacers last December. The third about how his selfish play cost the Nuggets a win in Boston last February. (If you all are keeping score, that’s two positive, one negative).

          Anyhow, the point is we *want* to be positive about this team, but when critical analysis turns up worms under the rocks, we will not hesitate to acknowledge they’re there. To expect us not to be critical of players, or organizational decisions, or Karl, or anything involving the team is to expect us not to do what we came here to do. We’ll try to do it as fairly and accurately as possible, and we appreciate your feedback, and corrections when we’re mistaken (which in my personal case may be often), but please don’t think we’re going “against” the team when negative aspects are highlighted, because really, it’s all about gettin’ betta’.

          • theo

            Yeah, whatever, he’s 37. Make a case for strong defenders among late 30’s perimeter players and I’ll take your point seriously. The last time Nash played defense we were in the 20th century.

          • mike

            people didn’t point out that it was overly positive because it wasn’t really about basketball and none of us really know the guy (though I have said in my critiques of his game that he seems like a decent dude). What is the counterpoint going to be: NO WAY is he that nice. I heard he sometimes forgets to put his socks in the hamper.

            Look he is a poor defender and frustrating to watch on that end. he makes the team worse on defense. Ty does this as well (though it is not as obvious). The point is that his lateral quickness and quickness in general is extremely below average for the league. He has good hands and decent anticipation. He still gets some rebounds. He does do some things right on that end so it would be nice if it were more balanced. Moving on…..

    • Dubz

      Coaches rarely call out players publicly, especially a starting PG who’s supposed to run the entire offense. It happens obviously, but not very often. A counter to your argument could be, “Why has Miller played for 6 different teams, without a single campaign lasting longer than 4 seasons? (If you count the Nuggets twice)” Just food for thought.

  • googergieger


    • theo

      You can do better than ‘ha.’ Speak up.

      • googergieger

        What speak up? You are given proof about lack of effort and you come back with, “Na uh”. Letting screens take him completely out of plays? Sagging off his man when it accomplishes nothing? I mean ball watching and losing track of his man. Okay. Some make that mistake. However most of the examples given are about effort and again aren’t a one time thing. And for all this crap about he can’t do anything on defense and he knows it, so he just wastes all his energy on offense, we all know that is b.s., because we’ve seen him be an above average defender. We’ve seen stretches where he is part of some great individual and team defense. Again, I called you out on arguing just to argue. Arguing points no one raised before. Now when straight up shown the complaints people raise on him, you just say, “Nope. He’s old. Coaches love him.”

        Kidd makes more of an effort and he is older. Nash is a worst defender and he makes more of an effort and again he is older. Coaches love him? Okay. Well ignoring the fact when is the last time you heard coaches bad mouth anyone that isn’t a known prick or something along those lines, coaches have loved Fisher. Brooks over played him last year in the play offs. Coaches love a lot of players. Coaches let a lot of players, especially veterans get away with things they would never let younger players get away with.

        Almost as bad as that guy that hates Iggy for no reason and never changes his mind despite the mountains of proof that say Iggy is that great on defense.

        So yeah, “ha” sums it up.

        • theo

          Are you seriously trying to argue v YMCA defensively by bringing in Kidd and Nash as examples of great effort on the defensive end by near retirees? Please.

          • googergieger

            Yup. What I thought.

            • theo

              You didn’t make an intelligible response.
              Try again.

        • googergieger

          *rereads comment*

          Whatever you say, rabbit.

          • theo

            Yeah, I’ve read the whole thread. Gotta say a sort of bizarre Andre Miller thing has developed here–obvious when I came into the mix. He’s a 37 year back up point guard but the bloggers and a lot of posters here act like he determines our fate. Odd fixation. No other way to say it. Odd. Can we get more relevant discussions here? I realize the bloggers have to respond to their audience, so congratulations that you’ve made you regular posters happy with another largely irrelevant discussion.

            • googergieger

              Well rabbit, he’s a lazy defender. People like you didn’t accept that. Started arguing we shouldn’t expect him to be a shut down defender. People pointed out no one has ever even hinted at such a thing. Then when finally worn down to arguing the point, you wanted proof he is a lazy defender. Were given it. Now you can’t accept it. Want a blog to talk about what is up with Ty not being diagnosed right, right away. What kind of post would you want on that, rabbit? The stiffs I think have more access to the team. Hoch and Dempsey would be the ones to ask about it. Heck that Kleiza douche is a known troll. He’d easily attack Karl and the entire Nuggets organization for you. Not saying you don’t have a point. Just saying if you were proven wrong, and you aren’t a troll, and you want to change the topic of discussion. Well, admit you were wrong, don’t comment on the topic at all, or just change the topic of discussion and hope someone takes you up on it.

              • mike

                counterpoint: Another poster on here named googergieger determined that Iguodala was a superior defender to Tyson Chandler and possibly Noah because NBA stats Drating suggests this is a possibility. In fact NBA stats say Miller’s defense rating is a positive on/off. He can’t be that bad if you believe in that statistic.

              • googergieger

                Predictable much, rabbit?

                The team as a whole is better on defense when Iggy is on the court by a good margin than when he is off it. Which again is comparable to that of a defensive big. And Iguodala is easily a better one on one defender than your Chandler’s and Noah’s who are specifically post defenders who anchor their team’s D. And in Chandler’s case the team defense is better with him off the court, so go figure. Synergy stats say how great of a defender he is in just what type of situations as well. Much more the eye test reaffirms all this. According to basketball reference McGee and Faried have a better defensive rating than Iggy. Which was the site you brought up for some reason when I was bringing up the on and off numbers from the official site of the nba. Which actually says the Nugs are two points better defensively when Miller is on the court, but again, when you take other things into account and the fact people are saying he can be a good defender he just doesn’t always try to be one, well we end up back where we started, rabbit.

  • NugZeit

    Solid analysis. Only thing I have to add is to point out DreMi’s (as in what he is constantly doing on D – will refer to Andre Miller as Dreamy from here on out) complete lack of close-out effort on spot up 3’s.

    I can forgive getting caught out of position (even if an experienced veteran shouldn’t be making those mistakes) – but I swear I see Dreamy standing 7-10 ft from his man at the 3 pt line and when the ball is obviously going to his man he just watches. Once his man catches the ball he just stares and then roughly 50% of the time watches as the ball splashes the net.

    I’m sure everyone here is well aware of this phenomenon – I just bring it up because I didn’t see it addressed in the clips and it is the single most irritating thing that I see every time I get to watch a game.

    • NugZeit

      Oh yeah, also, this tendency is the epitome of lazy D. I have read several statements that Dreamy isn’t lazy on D. While I agree that he often tries, he just as often gives up after he gets out of position and even for entire possessions.

  • Tom2

    It’s dangerous to extrapolate from anecdotes. Miller might be a poor defender, but showing video evidence of mistakes, which everybody makes, is not proof of that; it’s merely proof that he made mistakes. I mean, I could probably do the same sort of analysis for every player in the league and use that to justify why they’re bad at defense. I’m not saying I disagree with the conclusion, necessarily, just that I disagree that the conclusion follows from this scant evidence.

    • theo

      Yeah, thanks. Not much respect for season long evidence of his overall effect on games in a couple short video takes from one game demonstrating his most obvious defensive weaknesses. Again, best way to evaluate his contribution is to look at actual stats about rotations here and the role he plays in the best rotations. News to some, but it’s actually a team game so the important thing is to evaluate combinations of players and how those combos do.

    • Joel

      Tom2, it sounds like we probably speak the same language (critical thinking/skepticism), so I can appreciate where your point is coming from. But I take issue.

      One thing: Matt’s not saying, “These 5 cips are definitive proof that Miller’s defense is crap.” This post is a *response* to people who have criticized him downgrading Miller in recaps based on his poor defense — people who have specifically requested that he show them what he’s talking about. So no, an accumulation of anecdotal evidence does not necessarily (and often simply does not) amount to proof. But to claim that that’s Matt’s project here is off the mark.

      Second thing: “Every player makes mistakes sometimes and you could make a video like this for any player” (paraphrasing your point there) is just as if not more anecdotal a point than any Matt makes here. And it approaches begging the question.

  • heykyleinsf

    no argument here.

    I have always maintained.. and still do…
    that Miller brings a lot to the half court offense.
    but it’s not a fit.

    GK has the softest spot for him…
    We get it.

    Hopefully we only get it for the
    rest of this season and a long
    playoff run..
    then Portland or Dallas or the Lakers or
    the Spurs or some other team gets it.
    Good luck and all..
    but it’s no longer a fit.

  • CJP32

    The numbers don’t lie. When Dre plays 30+ minutes, Denver are 5-5. Last year they were 9-10. Thats 14-15 over 2 seasons. We are a sub 50% ball club when Andre plays starter minutes, its not ideal and the minutes at PG should be distributed amongst Iggy, Evan and Dre whilst Ty is out. And trust me, I cannot see Ty being 100% ready by the time the Playoffs start, its not going to happen, so GK will have to lean on Dre even more. Which means defensively, we can only afford Dre to be on the court against the opponents starting 5 for no more than 6 minutes at a time.

    I would like to see minutes to be something like:

    PG – Dre – 26, Evan – 12, Iggy – 10
    SG – Iggy – 24, CBrew – 24
    SF – Gallo – 34, WC – 14
    PF – Faried – 32, WC – 16
    C – KK – 24, McGee – 24

    • Kalen

      Thanks CJP32! Numbers don’t lie. As I’ve said on Twitter and in several Rapid Reactions, Miller just isn’t a good fit for what the Nuggets are trying to do. This is a team that relies on stingy defense, creating turnovers and then getting out on the break to parlay those turnovers into easy fastbreak baskets. Miller is the antitheses of that philosophy.

  • Fraser

    Andre Miller is a lot like Kobe in the fact that he is a damn good 1 v 1 defensive match up if he wants to be AND if his direct opponent has the ball.
    Countless times I’ve seen Dre hassle and annoy the player with the ball by both using his feet to get into good position and having active hands. He certainly has the skills if he chooses to apply them… unfortunately he doesn’t give a damn what happens if he isn’t guarding the ball!

    It’s the same with Kobe, he likes looking good so when he guards the ball it’s 100% effort. When he’s off ball he just plays 1 man zones and defensive schemes that no one can recognize!!

    I don’t think Dre gets torched much when he is an on-ball defender, but he sure gets burned LOTS on three point shooters (particularly in the corner- EXACTLY like the Cory Joseph play above) and on off ball cuts.

    The problem isn’t his ability as a defender, it’s those ones where it just a bit of effort required.

    When YMCA is on the court 50.2% of opponent’s shots are from the restricted area, ie the best place to shoot from. When Andre Miller is off the court though, that drops to 44.3% of opponent shots at the rim. That is a pretty significant difference over the course of the whole season and IMO at least some of that can be credited to Dre’s lack of effort on D

    At the same time he has saved our butt’s a couple of times in clutch offensive situations (Portland game 2 weeks ago, OKC 4th qtr not long ago) so must be given some credit…

    But at the same time I have not forgiving him for that pull up-transition-contested-3 pointer (when he shoots 20%) against Boston in Triple OT when we were down by 1. Still makes my blood boil!!

  • googergieger

    Oh and off topic but refs are cheating bad for the Clips right now. Like disgustingly bad. Pacers aren’t allowed to defend and they are getting molested on the other end. And just as I’m typing horrible flop on Hollins and an offensive foul on West. Fucking disgusting. Hope Denver wins on Wednesday. League is going to do everything they can to help The Clips. Ugh this shit is disgusting. If we fall to the fourth seed, I hope we play Memphis, Clips are going to get everything from the refs. Memphis gets away with some crap but man Clips constantly go on manufactured runs. Don’t know why the refs give teams like them so much. They constantly flop, whine, and curse at the refs. Don’t get me wrong, Pacers are doing stupid shit all on their own, but refs have a lot to do with that stuff. If you let one team foul and you don’t let another team defend, makes it hard not to let it get in your head.

    • AaronCAPS

      I am/was (depending on when your reading this) watching/watched the game too. Those Refs are God awful, that’s why we have to HAVE TO get the 3 seed so we don’t get matched up wit the Clippers. Were basically the same as the Pacers from a normal fan/ref view point. We’ll get treated the same excact way the the Pacers are right now.

    • theo

      Clips lost again and are now 2 games back in the loss column with 8 to go for us and 7 to go for them.

      Time for our epic last 8 game effort when we overcome Ty’s loss. Could be a very cool end to a very encouraging regular season.

      Still surprised by the lack of interest here and at DP and other supposedly serious NBA ‘news’ sites about the misdiagnosis of Ty’s injury that could cost us a first round series. In any serious NBA city with serious NBA media, that story would have been covered backwards and forwards.

      • Dubz

        I’ve actually wondered that myself. Why hasn’t the Nuggets medical staff received ungodly amounts of grief over this? He could have close to 2 weeks of recovery by now but they chose to let him play against SA for some crazy reason. He even said he clearly wasn’t ready. For such an important player (probably our most important player) at such an important point in the year you’d think they would proceed with the utmost caution.

        • CJP32

          I look at the last 2 seasons and the injury management of core players and I wonder what the medical team are doing. Chandlers groin, hip and now shoulder, Ty’s ankles, Gallos ankles, they all seem to rest then play when not 100% and it’s clear they are playing through pain

          I would not be surprised one bit if Ty misses the Playoffs, or he returns and is 70-80%. Either way, it leaves us in a bad position. Relying on Dre is not ideal!

      • Ban Johnson

        This injury stuff seems like speculation to me. Bruised heel or plantar tear, both are the sort of injuries where Ty goes when he feels ready… Ty thought he could go against the Spurs. (As far as I can discern.)

        Also, I want no part of Chris Paul in the playoffs. That guy just throws himself into defenders in crunch-time and gets the call 95% of the time (like Duncan and Parker). Also, he’s really good. Here’s hoping for the 3rd seed and a date with the Warriors or Rockets. (And then possibly a date with the very beatable and possibly Ginobi-less Spurs in the 2nd round, depending on how things shake out.)

      • dynamo.joe

        I’m not saying this is the case, cuz I have no way of knowing, but some of that might be on Ty.

        Good medical care is a two way street. It requires communication from the patient, too. If the doctor says “how is your heel?” and you say “it still hurts, but I think it’s getting better” when you are thinking “this isn’t getting better” why would the doctor say “we should run more tests”?

        But just since you like arguments from authority (see Andre Miller is good, because coaches revere him): if a medical staff with years of training and decades of experience say he was ok to go in San Antonio then he was ok to go in San Antonio.

  • D3Ntilthe3ND

    Perhaps adding a block user feature would help to curb the disrespectful people?

  • Bill

    I’m a casual fan that never played basketball…I don’t understand the intricacies of basketball defense…But even before reading this article it was obvious to me that Andre Miller doesn’t like to play defense…I see the same lack of effort game after game…

  • al68

    el problema no es solo su defensa individual, si no que además descoloca todas las defensas de ayuda del equipo. A principio de temporada se veia la desesperacion de Iggy cuando se esforzaba en defensa y Miller solo destrozaba todo el trabajo defensivo.
    Otro factor importante que yo veo es que es algunos partidos su desgana se transmite al resto de jugadores ya que él es el veterano y debe dar ejemplo.
    Y por último y más desesperante es que con su mínimo esfuerzo no hay posibilidad de que tenga una pequeña lesión que obligue a GK a sacar otros jugadores y se de cuenta de lo negativo que es para este equipo el 75% de los partidos.

  • airvaid

    I have never denied that Andre Miller is a bad player defensively. It takes no genius to figure it out.

    I also understand that the game is played on two ends. And when you are rating a player within a game or reason, you have to look at both the bad and the good. Just because someones puts up a few clips of Miller doing bad defensively doesn’t make him a bad player. I could go on YouTube and find a clip of DeAndre Jordan that makes him look like Shaq reincarnated.

    And I could go through Gandhi’s history and take just a select few quotes takes out of context to make him like a fascist.

    • airvaid

      Sorry had to switch devices mid-post.

      What I was trying to get at was, if you’re gonna do an analysis of a player how about including the good, the bad and the ordinary?

      Choosing five selective plays to make a point is quite an easy way out.

      I c

    • airvaid

      Sorry had to switch devices mid-post.

      What I was trying to get at was, if you’re gonna do an analysis of a player how about including the good, the bad and the ordinary?

      Choosing five selective plays to make a point is quite an easy way out.

      It would be the equivalent of me posting the 5 incredibly clutch minutes he played at OKC to make him look like the superstar Denver needs to win in the playoffs.

      And then write “HOW CAN YOU BE SO BLIND TO FACTS!!”. Kalen style.

    • googergieger

      Yeah if you’re like one step close to pulling Godwin’s law in defending someone that can defend but chooses not to more often than not, might be time to move along.

  • airvaid

    Also I didn’t comment on the Spurs game or its ratings since I didn’t see th game. It very well could have been that Andre Miller had a terrible game.

    But let’s remember all players have terrible games, picking a few plays from a single game, doesn’t give license to Miller haters to somehow use it as a conclusive proof that Miller is a bad player.

    • A.D.

      The point of the post seems to be to highlight the main reason Matt (the poster) “kills Miller’s grade so much”. There is no need to go over the things we agree on. He’s a crafty point with a knack for great timing in ball distribution.

      No one can argue those things. And given his age, we expect a loss in his step and overall athleticism. The biggest asset to having a veteran is that they aren’t easily flustered. But there is no excuse for any of the plays he made above, REGARDLESS of the result.

      He looks lost and clearly gives up altogether at times. FREE FOURNIER!

      • airvaid

        Anybody who watches any NBA knows that Miller can’t play defense worth a lick.

        But if you an find me a back-up NBA point guard that can create his own shot, get others shots at the rim, and make an offense in the half-court tick like Miller does while playing any kind of defense I am all ears.

        And don’t go the J-Kidd or Billups route, both play off the ball as spot up shooters and no they can’t defend any better than Miller does.

        Bloggers can kill Miller’s grade all they want. Especially bloggers on this site. But for a backup PG, Miller does a fantastic job. Both as a facilitator and as a scorer.

  • A.D.

    Again. No one is arguing his ability on the offensive side of the ball. He is more than competent with moving the ball and taking advantage of windows in the opposing D. Clearly, there’s a reason GK shows so much trust with him.

    Whether he’s fatigued or confused, I’m not sure. But he gives up. Which is even clearer to see with an up-tempo team this one. The simplest way to put it. EVERYONE else is moving when he stands stationary.

    In a game that runs possession by possession, plays like those can literally be the difference between a second-round exit and a championship

    • airvaid

      Without his influence, the second unit will hardly score let alone be close in playoff games.

      Positives outweigh the negatives.

      And to expect a 37 year old player to suddenly improve his defense is wishful thinking. After 5 years in the league you are the player you’re gonna be.

      • Tom

        It’s not a question of whether the positives outweigh the negatives.

        It’s a question of whether he could do better, and therefore help the team win more games, by making simple changes — changes that are about effort, rather than any sort of inherent skill. It’s a question of whether he’s playing up to his abilities, or playing down to an unacceptably low standard. It’s a question of whether he could be bringing more positives and fewer negatives than he is right now.

        All season long, Andre Miller has been giving up on plays where he’s in position and just needs to make a token defensive effort to potentially get a stop. He’s been doing it in games where he plays 15 minutes, and games where he plays 40. In a league where 3 points per game is the difference between championship-favorite Miami and dark horses like Denver and Memphis, this is an unacceptably low standard. It’s not like we’re criticizing him for failing to stonewall LeBron, or for not being quick enough to chase Chris Paul around screens — it’s simple stuff like watching his man, taking a step toward a shooter, or getting back into a play after being screened off, that he’s perfectly capable of doing but just doesn’t. He’s our “veteran leader”, and he needs to act like it.

        • airvaid

          Yes I know what you are saying, but without Miller we are not even within those three points of Miami.

          Have you seen how bad our second unit is at creating a shot for themselves?

          It’s a price to pay for all he does on offense. You have to hide him on defense.

          • Tom

            We could hide him less on defense if he did fundamentally simple things more often. It’s a price we pay that we shouldn’t have to pay as much.

            • airvaid

              Like I said before players don’t suddenly improve after 15 years in the league. The coaching staff knows what it gets from Miller.

              If he was better on defense, he would be a starting PG on another team.

              And this team does better with Andre Miller on the floor than Andre Miller of the floor.

              Lots of players on this team could be a doing a lot of things better and that would make us a better team. Like if Ty could defend elite point guards or if JaVale could stop making boneheaded plays. Or if Faried did better on both sides of the floor.

              Difference is, the room for growth on a player as old as Miller is done. You take the good he gives you and live with the bad.

              If we had a great backup PG who did the things Andre did on offense and played lockdown defense, I would happily trade away Andre Miller. But we don’t.

              Look at the stats, we do better with Andre Miller on the floor than off the floor.

              • Tom

                Nobody is asking him to be a lockdown defender. Nobody is asking him to grow into a different type of player than he’s ever been. We’re just pointing out that he’s missing basic effort on certain types of plays. He wasn’t always this bad of a defender; he didn’t always give up on plays like he consistently has this year.

                The Nuggets have lost 5 or 6 one-possession games late, and IMO a bit more defensive effort from Andre Miller would have made the difference in at least two of them.

              • JoelK

                And two more wins would have been the difference between owning the 3 seed and sweating it out.

  • airvaid

    Well we can sit here and wish he played better defense and that McGee was dominant for 40 minutes a night.

    Or we can comment objectively on what a player brings to the team, overall.

    • A.D.

      There is a difference between a player’s style of doing something and said player making an attempt at all.

      Not sure if we can embed here, so just in case:–3XpTAo

      Imagine Noah stands under the basket without contesting the dunk, setting up for a charge or otherwise keeping McGee from another poster. Though, the basket is made, the defender stands between the ball-handler and the basket. This is something Andre Miller doesn’t always manage to do.

      We can’t expect him to stop everyone, but he should be trying. There are plenty of players who make a living on “hustle” plays alone (a Reggie Evans type)..His lack of effort shows an unwillingness to become a more complete player and could overshadow his ability to lead as a seasoned veteran on a team full of players whose potential has yet to be reached.

    • Tom

      Due to the limitations of human language, we can only communicate one concept at a time. At times, we communicate a positive thing YMCAndre brings to the court. In this post, we’re communicating a negative thing. Why, might you ask, did we choose to focus on this? Because it’s an important aspect of his game that seems to get a lot of people wound up when it’s mentioned.

      • theo

        Way too many people get wound up about YMCA and Karl. I realize you have to pander to the crowd, but can we move on to relevant discussions? We’re in a very exciting play off race, we’re potentially on the verge on breaking a team record for wins, we can get the 3rd seed, we’re trying to overcome Ty’s loss, Ty had an injury that was completely misdiagnosed that could cost us a first round playoff win and nothing has been reported about that in any detail here or in the supposedly professional hoops media in town that specializes in puff pieces and quirkiness, etc.

  • CJ

    Very late to this conversation. I appreciate the things that Dre does (lobs and the still effective old man post game) but his overall lack of athleticism and EFFORT on D makes the 4th quarter of tight games so stressful. Can I live with Dre as our backup point guard playing 25 mins a game against the other team’s second unit? Absolutely. Do I like him playing off the ball with Ty or slowing the pace bringing the ball up in a tight playoff game? Absolutely not. My personal biggest issue with him is the lack of spacing he provides when playing with Ty while also serving as a defensive liabilty as previously noted. If he could shoot threes at a 35% clip then I would forgive EVERYTHING pointed out in this post. But that is not the player he is or ever will be. (I should note that it is well documented that the Nuggets’ plus/minus and late game numbers are actually quite good with Dre involved. Dre has had some great moments (OKC) and bad (Boston, SA). He is what he is and nothing will change that. I just hope he can find some extra energy at the end of Game 7 in OKC/SA to close out on the corner three on the last possession.)

  • googergieger

    Mavs game, Portland game, Wolves game, Kings game, and now Mavs game again. Crucial bad calls or no calls that have all benefited the Lakers. In this one it was an obvious travel by Dwight not called that lead to points for Lakers.

    I guess here is hoping refs call a fair game tomorrow against Utah this go around. Last time we faced them during a stretch sixteen straight fouls were called on us which lead to Utah going on a big run. If we get a fair game and/or a game refs make sure Utah lose, should be a pretty worry free night tomorrow.

  • theo

    Clearly a lot of people here fixate on Miller and Karl and their relationship. Miller is a 37 year old back up point guard–who gives a f-ck? It’s amazing how much time has been spent here over the last couple of months on Miller comments by both bloggers and posters. Weird. No other way to say it. Let me repeat. He’s a back up point guard. I realize the bloggers here have to please their regular audience, but I think we can do better and give time to more relevant issues. We all agree he’s a poor defender and we could do better with a younger back up point that plays better defense and can shoot. Please, make it stop. It’s boring.

    Ty was misdiagnosed which wasted 10 days of healing time which could cost us a first round playoff win. How did the docs blow that in such a big way? Were the docs overruled by coaches or FO? In any real NBA city, fans would laugh out loud at an extended discussion about a back point guard when the real issue is the poor way Ty’s injury was handled and, frankly, the complete lack of interest here and in the professional sports media about it.

    • dynamo.joe

      You are right, having an opinion on the guy who gets the 5th most minutes on the team is stupid. Everyone knows its only the 1st 4 guys who count.

  • mariano

    If any of play basketball you know that defense really wears you out the most and dre had been playing tons of minutes since Lawson has been out so i can understand that and it also shows you the amount of trust he has in his teammates. Miller has done so many more good than bad for usand alot of you don’t even see the things he does that doesn’t come up on the stat sheet. One of the smartest players in the game hands down.

  • prospector

    ANYONE… I MEAN ANYONE who displays such a poor effort on defense does not need to be on the team… HE is a punk and a cancer to this team…. How the hell can you yell at the youngsters for their defensive mistakes while giving MILLER a hall pass???? How in the hell could you call this guy your MVP with a straight face?????? THis is why I HATE GEORGE KARL… He is a two faced know it all (WITH NO RINGS)… This is why he has won NO RINGS.. As a player that watches film how could you watch this B/S without going off on KARL next time he yells at you for defensive effort… I played sports and coached my entire life, and I hate players like MILLER and COACHES like KARL….


    DO you guys ever watch film???? Come on and do your freaking jobs and cut this cancer off our team!!!!!

  • clive

    Andre miller does make me angry sometimes with his lack of effort on the defensive end, but i think most of the time when he’s not playing D, he’s just being smart about where he spends his limited energy. the probability of a shot going up after his man blows by him is pretty high; the probability of another defender getting the rebound is pretty high too. so if the nuggets are likely going to get the rebound anyway, then why not just conserve your energy?

    of course, the problem is that the two probabilities need to be multiplied which may result in < 50%. Even if both probabilities are 60%, the final probability will be only 36%. Against a more disciplined offense, the man that goes by andre miller may not take the initial shot but pass it off to a teammate who can take a better shot. if miller had given up, we're playing 5 on 4 at that point. the second probability is also skewed because now we have one less player who's trying to rebound. so the actual chance of us getting the ball back without the opponent scoring is actually a lot lower then the 36% or whatever it is.

    All i'm saying is, given Andre's old body with limited energy and a crafty veteran brain, I can see why gives up on defense so much. But if you even do a precursory look at the probability even with hypothetical numbers, his lack of defensive efforts cannot be justified.

    But our real problem is that we don't have Ty Lawson. He's the engine that makes us go. and he actually makes our andre miller better; andre giving up on d actually affects us less on our second unit because of mcgee (not that mcgee plays better defense than koufas, but mcgee creates more unpredictability) as well as improving our second-unit offense.

  • Cory

    I would have to say i really don’t understand the views of the commenters on this one. Andre is putrid on defense and doesn’t give effort. I don’t believe it’s because he conserves energy all the time because there are times in a game when you do take a play off and move on. But Andre does it twice over multiple times. I love when he’s taking over games offensively with the pass and scoring but……..his defense is something that can be consistent just like his offense. Our offense can work without him running hero ball when he’s on the court . By hero ball i mean exerting tons of energy trying to get a basket. But you should give effort on defense always. Understandably he can take some plays off, i mean he is 37 but like another person on here said “he’s not 87” he has game. Use that savvy for defense like you do for offense. All I’m saying.

  • Jaron

    I agree completely I love miller a points, but am constantly disapointed by his defense, or lack thereof. Something that paticularly annoys me that I did not see mentioned is how he very often, sometimes even when he plays good defense with his feet, doesn’t put his arms up to defend the shot. Correct me if i am wrong is that not a key fundamental of playing defense. All of the explained cases frusterate me but i think that most of all, because even when he does show most of the effort to play D he doesn’t finish with the simple task of lifting his arms…infuriating

  • jellymonster

    A negative article on Miller on RMC
    what a surprise

    unfortunately this article is off base

    you have expanded small mistakes or even no error what so ever into proof of bad D with your subjective judgements and insulting comments (lazy, couldn’t be bothered, terrible etc)
    -try to be more objective in your analysis-

    one example: miller defense 2
    on this play miller gets back in transition, blocks the lane to the Leonard layup, forces him to go under the basket towards the help, and Leonard is forced to try a reverse layup over the back of his head while running away from the basket
    conclusion: good defense miller

    I could go on to re-frame other plays but I would rather offer the following point: the nuggets do not play man-to-man rather a man-zone using strongside/weakside

    comments such as the following indicate you have no clue about this
    “he starts the play for some random reason down at the block helping nobody.” (random reason=the defensive scheme of the nuggets)
    “Two of the most basic rules of man-to-man defense in basketball are never turn your back to your man, and never turn your back to the ball. ” (this comment might make sense if the nuggets played a strict man-to-man scheme, but they do not.)
    -perhaps more understanding of the nuggets defensive scheme is required-

    hope you enjoyed the feedback