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Brad Miller: Portrait of A Big Man in Decline


So the Celtics are considering using their mid-level exception to sign Brad Miller, a free agent who made $12.25 million (!) last season, according to ShamSports.

So: Should Boston go down this road?

As recently as two seasons ago, Brad Miller was probably a better player than most casual fans thought. In 2008, he was one of the league’s true plus/minus monsters. The Kings were 10.12 points per 100 possessions better with Miller on the floor versus with him on the bench, and most of that gain—about 7.0 points of it—came on the offensive end, where Miller’s combination of jump-shooting and passing was as valuable an offensive lubricant as any non-starter was providing. His adjusted plus/minus stats on Basketball Value—which seek to isolate a player’s individual contributions by adjusting for the quality of teammates—were among the very best in the entire league.

He had a similar effect on the Bulls after the Kings dealt him to Chicago in the Andres Nocioni/John Salmons trade in 2009. Chicago’s offense scored 6.3 more points per 100 possessions with Miller on the floor versus with him on the bench, and its defense improved as well, according to 82games.

His traditional stats weren’t as outstanding, but they still marked him as a productive player. His PER was regularly in the 15-18 range—above league average—and he’d reliably grab between 20 and 24 percent of available defensive rebounds, a decent number for a big guy.

You could count on Miller shooting about 48 percent from the floor and generally helping his team.

In 2010? Not so much.

Miller’s stats declined across the board last season, something that was not unexpected, given that he’s 34 and well into the “past his prime” stage of his career. Some examples:


• Miller shot 43 percent from the floor last season, a career low.

• Much of that is due to Miller’s migration to the three-point line. He attempted a career-high 132 threes last season and made just 37 of them (28 percent).

• He attempted just 2.8 shots per game from 10 feet and in last season, down from 4.5 per game in 2009, according to Hoopdata.

• His percentage on long two-pointers—Miller’s bread and butter—dropped to 38 percent in 2010, down from 43 percent in 2009 and 47 percent in both 2007 and 2008, per Hoopdata.

• He finished 58 percent of his shots at the rim; the league average for centers was around 64 percent, according to Hoopdata.


• Miller rebounded just 17.8 percent of opponent misses when he was on the floor last season, the lowest mark of his career, according to Basketball-Reference. Among 36 centers who logged at least 500 minutes last season, only eight had lower defensive rebounding rates, according to BR.

That could have to do with Joakim Noah’s maturation into a beastly rebounder, but it’s still something to note in evaluating Miller. He is, at best, an average offensive rebounder, so don’t expect him to shake up the C’s in that regard.


• Miller lost his status as one of the league’s Plus/Minus Gods last season. His adjusted plus/minus mark in Basketball Value’s formula dropped to -1.25. Unadjusted numbers show the Bulls scored and allowed almost the exact same number of points with Miller on the floor versus with him on the bench.

And while we can all argue about the value of plus/minus as an NBA stat—the jury most definitely remains out—the fact remains that outstanding plus/minus marks were the chief proof of Miller’s continuing value as he aged. In addition to the marks I’ve already mentioned, Wayne Winston, a stats expert and former consultant to the Mavs, told TrueHoop in the fall that his own secret plus/minus formula showed Miller was one of Chicago’s two best players in 2009. (The other was Ben Gordon).

• The only stat trending the right way for Miller: His direct counterparts (i.e. opposing centers) produced below their average levels while Miller was on the floor in 2010 after producing at above-average levels in 2009, according to Basketball Prospectus.

It’s hard to tell whether that has more to do with Miller or with Chicago’s jump from 18th in defensive efficiency in 2009 to 11th in 2010.

The upshot of all of this is that Boston needs to tread very carefully in using all or some of its mid-level exception to pursue Miller. Let’s amend that: Boston should not (and won’t) use its full mid-level exception on Miller.

A piece of the mid-level? Perhaps. Miller is still a decent player. He can space the floor, and he can pass—at least when he’s not trying too-fancy passes that result in turnovers, something Boston obviously doesn’t need. He’s smart, feisty, and strong, and he can shoot free throws, an under-rated end of game skill.

But evidence suggests the C’s would not be signing the Brad Miller who was so valuable for the Kings just two or three seasons ago.

  • Filipe

    I’m ok in giving Miller 2m. Anything more than that is overpaying. My roomate is a Bulls fan so I watch a lot of Chicago on League Pas and he really were a lot worse this year.

  • Al

    no… go get something else… if they do get Miller, fine… it’s better than having Shelden Williams on the bench but they would still have to get another big man who can rebound the ball and block shots… or at least just rebound the ball…

  • I love Green

    Jermaine O’Neal or Earl Barron.

  • Al

    or Tyson Chandler

  • Al

    (he may terminate his contract… hopefully he will. he would fit perfectly)

  • Sophomore


    It’d be great to get a 4 or a 5 who’d duplicate playoff Sheed, but all our realistic options sound a lot more like regular-season Sheed.

  • http://e erwin

    It would be a good pick up for the celtics but Miller’s not worth the entire mil level exception. the C’s should used part of that to pick up Brendan Haywood, for a chance at a ring he might be willing to take a paycut. They should vet’s minimum to add another bif for insurance like Drew Gooden or just their 2008 draft pick Semih Erden for less money, give Ryan Gomes a affordabable contract, sign Bradley and Harangody to their rookie contracts, resign both Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Tony Allen, Nate Robinson and sign Kyle Korver or Eddie House. With That, Boston will have a nice balance of youth and experience

  • lakershater13

    @erwin Haywood plays for dallas. He is going to be offered a big contract. Well more than what he is worth. No way he takes half of our mid level.

    Mark Cuban offered Gortat over 6 mil a year. You think he is going to offer Haywood anything less? Plus Dallas is already a winning team. As long as dirk stays haywood would likely be coming to a team that is worse off than dallas. Dallas made a great mid season trade. Just like the trade the lakers made a couple years ago to get gasol it might take a year for all the pieces to fit right.

  • lakershater13

    Celtics picked up deshawn sims for their summer league roster. 6’7 forward. Avg. 16.8 ppg 7.6 rpg 1.1 spg. last year at mich.

  • I love Green

    Yessssss deshawn sims. Dude knows how to play basketball.

  • Cptn Bubbles

    For those who follow the C’s in summer ball hoping for some diamond in the rough, here are the invites to the Cs (that I could find) for this summer. I was hoping for some 6’10+ rebounding machines, but this is who I found so far….

    Ryan Wittman, 6’7 215 Cornell Sr. 18ppg 47%fg 43%3pt 83%ft 4rpg 2apg 1steal

    DeShawn Sims 6’8 235 Michigans Sr. 17ppg 49%fg 28%3pt 67%ft 7rpg 1apg 1bpg 1spg

    Ryan Thompson 6’6 220 guard Rider Sr. 17ppg 42%fg 32%3pt 82%ft 5rpg 3apg 1spg

    Artsiom Parakhouski 6’11 260 Radford Sr. 21ppg 58%fg 25%3pt 56%ft 13rpg 1apg 2bpg 1spg

    Rodney Green 6’5 205 guard La Salle Sr 19ppg 42%fg 27%3pt 70%ft 5rpg 4apg 2spg

    I don’t suppose the Red Claws had any rebounding bigs handy???

  • Kinpin

    Any word on other summer league signees?

  • Kinpin

    Nevermind. Thx Cptn

  • Jay P

    If he’ll take a piece of the mid level (2-3mil) or a vet minimum, yes.

    Otherwise, no. His numers suggest regular season Sheed like performances, and I have very little doubt he’ll be able to turn it on in the playoffs like Sheed did, and somehow dial the clock back 3-4 years.

  • http://politicaldeathmatch.org Harrison Bergeron

    I wouldn’t mind bringing him in, he’s always been underrated. For depth up front off the bench, he’s a pretty decent option, even if he is in decline. Hard working, team first guy, a willing and deft passer, tough and physical; we could do a lot worse.

    That said, I wouldn’t want to overpay for him, and the MLE might be doing just that. Still, I doubt we could do much better right now.

  • lakershater13

    @ Cptn… Very nice.

    Ok this doesnt make sense to me. Atsiom Parakhouski actually shout 25% from 3pt. That would lead you to believe that if a guy 6-11 is shooting 3s that he must have some kind of shooting touch. Then you look at 56% ft shooter? What?
    I dont know about this guy but i think a guy like Avery Bradley will be a better ft shooter than he was in college. I cant imagine he will be like rondo at the ft line. Rondo is a poor shooter in general. Bradley shot well and he relies on his jumper to score. I still wasnt thrilled that Ainge picked him. He is a Celtic now and I will be hoping he ends up being great and shuts me up. Ainge usually picks the right guys.

  • Shooter

    No to Miller..

  • http://celticshub idunno

    I take a better rebounder/defender for this team instead of someone who could stretch the floor. Ideally, both, but I don’t know how likely it is. I would be willing to take a risk on Channing Frye, split the MLE with a more reliable veteran maybe.

  • Shooter

    I would still like Danny to use our mid level on Mike Miller,He’s a solid rebounder,he can play the 3,4,he can attack,score in isolation,get to the free throw line.He was 2nd in 3P% and he’s a good passer.2-3 years at full mid level……starter with Ray as 6th man…………….done deal for me.

  • J Atlas

    @lakerhater the 3pt% on Artsiom Parakhouski isn’t any true indication of a shooting touch he just shot 12 3s and he made 3 of them…oh and this season is going to be rough but we will make it through because we have more heart than the other teams

  • Adrian

    I still don’t know why we just didn’t draft a young big man. Now we put ourselves in a difficult situation trying to sign one. Desperate time calls for desperate measure but if we get this guy this is an extreme low. And by the way who scouting these players. Our major problem was rebounding, then scoring. And we get a Pg and an aging vet. This guy is less effective then Sheed. Now we are going to suffer both ways. Lowest rebounding Avg. in the league here we come.

  • dslack

    You wrote the same comment on another thread. The essence of my reply to you there was that it’s better to draft best available instead of drafting for need.

    Mike Miller is more a 2/3 than a 3/4.

  • Jay P


    Channing Frye is not a better rebounder/Defender.

  • Jay P


    Brad Miller, even in his decline, will have a FAR greater impact that anyone we could have drafted, save possibly moving up into the top five for Favors or Cousins… and then even still that’s no guarantee.

  • http://CelticsHub.com Zach Lowe

    Mike Miller cannot play for the 4.

  • Keith Popsicle

    Zach, did Salmons leaving have any effect on Miller’s numbers at the end of last season? The assumption is that Miller would take on a little more scoring responsibilities with Salmons gone.

    Soooo depressing that think that 34 is officially on the delcine in NBA years. I think I had more quality years than half the centers in the NBA at this rate…

  • Ross in Maine

    No to Miller, hate the guy. He is like a used up cross between Leon P. and a slow white version of Dennis Rodman. I’d tolerate that acquisition for vet min only. (and he’ll never go for that little).

  • http://www.truecloud.com Dave

    Has to be a Center. Not just a BIG. KG isn’t a center. Neither is Big Baby and they can’t defend that position the way that Perkins did.

    Shaq wouldn’t be a bad option actually other than the fact that he wouldn’t settle for the minimum.

    He was never a great defender but he can occupy a lot of space and clog he middle.

    Still gets his share of rebounds
    and anchors the low post on offense where he can still score and cause some problems with defensive matchups.

    Good in the locker room. Knows about leadership and what it takes to win championships.

  • Jay P


    True to everything you just said, but I would not pay him more than the minimum, so it’s not going to happen.

    Although, anythings possible I guess. I mean, Shaq’s of no use to any team who’s not already a contender, and needs big bodies. As of right now, there’s really no other team out there that fits that mold. Honestly, what team right now is going to look at him and really think he’s worth their MLE, to play a back up role, and basically just take up space?

    Obviously they should throw the offer out there, but Shaq has way to much of an ego to take a minimum contract, I just don’t see it happening.

  • http://carlosrizik@gmail.com Carlos R.

    I like Brad Miller, he could be very helpful.

  • NHBluesMan

    i wouldn’t mind Miller… if he was a replacement for Sheldon rather than Sheed. As it is, it sounds like we’ll be getting the same kind of headache we got from Sheed during the regular season (drifting towards the 3 point line) WITHOUT the post-season turn on.

  • Jeff

    I think Danny knows what he’s doing.

    Knowing what’s out there and who the targets will be early on in FA, he may be playing it smart by seeing how things play out.

    If they pursue Miller it would allow them more flexibility with the contract of Sheed to make a trade when lot’s of teams are out of the Lebronathon. A guy like Miller, who can contribute but is not going to be getting a lot of looks this offseason, may be a decent addition for the right price.

    Think about it, if Danny offers Miller a relatively low contract (Vet’s min or 2 mil out of the MLE) and other FA’s are getting swooped on, he may take it thinking that no one is going to offer him anything more than that, and wanting to get a chance at a ring. 2 years at the Min might be appealing for a guy who doesn’t have much time in the league left.

    It would also aleviate SOME of the need for a big because we would at least have one guy locked in at C for the start of the season. If Danny tries early with Miller for cheap it, and Miller takes it, it will allow him to make other pursuits an option.

    Haywood is the best option no question but other teams know that too and may overpay to get a legit 7′ C to anchor there teams D.

    As for those who have commented on this blog that NO ONE is going to be willing to help the Conference champ rebuild by doing any favors, and they’ll have to do it themselves….100% WRONG.

    Look no further than the VC trade for Orlando. No one cares, unless they have a legit BEEF (ie; LA and C’s) about sending a player to another team if it benefits THEM! So yeah, Sheed and Davis to CHI for Deng is a real possibility, especially with Thibs there. He may have some good will for the C’s and have enough pull to get some more cap, and a player he knows in Davis or (hope not) Perk if the right deal was presented.

    Don’t under estimate this team or Danny. CLE did it, ORL did it and so did LA, and save for Perk being out, and some BS fouls in the 4th, banner 18 would be hanging in the Garden right now.

    In a couple weeks Danny could have Doc back PP resigned at less, Ray back, MIller, a backup 1, and 2 in Bradley getting one of the best players in the draft at 19, a possible suprise in Luke, a couple other vets min type guys and the MLE to go to 2 reliable backups along with a nice trade piece to send for Beas and O’Neal in a sign and trade (the total of the contracts sent back for Sheed can be up to $7.9 mil), Deng, Big Al, or maybe even something no one knows about right now.

    In two weeks Danny could have a lineup of

    PG – RR, Livingston, Bradley
    SG – Ray, TA, Bradley
    SF – PP, Beasley or Deng
    PF – KG, Davis, Beasley, J O’Neal, Harangody
    C – Miller, Ben Wallace, J O’Neal, Sehrmid (or whatever his name is)
    And still have the full MLE left to go after Haywood, Gooden, Gomes, Mike Miller, Outlaw, Hakim Warrick, Shaq and a whole bunch of others.

    The C’s have options…a lot more than people think. It wouldn’t be the first time anybody went to a team for cheap for a chance at a ring. Especially if the C’s are willing to give 2 yr deals for guys who might be worried about a lockout.

    Danny will get it done. You watch.

  • Daniel

    NO brad miller. Please he never plays hard. we can get some one younger and better than brad miller. Please celtics dont mess this one up!!1

  • Daniel

    Go out and get Deng very good player as a back up player for “The Truth”

  • Shooter

    @dslack……..typo,my bad too many numbers going thru my head with contracts and whatnot.
    What I was supposed to say was, Miller can play the 2,3 not 3,4.

  • Shooter

    Guys………..i have to take back what i said about Danny drafting Bradley.He WAS the BEST player available at 19 and it was a good pick.In fact it might even be better than good.
    I’ve been doing some research on Bradley and Harangody.In other words i’ve been watching some youtube highlights on these kids and Bradley is a damn good player.He’s a freaky athelete,he’s got a solid pull up game off the dribble,he has very good form on his jumpshot/pull up jumper from mid range,excellent handles.Good body control/balance when attacking/making his move in mid air.
    More importantly he has that killer instinct and the right mentality to succeed in the NBA.
    I think Bradley and Rondo will work out together in the backcourt.I don’t know how this kid shot 54% from the line he has a good shot on him.I’m sure that will change sooner or later in his rookie season.
    Bradley can ball folks,in fact he might be too good to keep both him and Rondo.
    I’m gonna start watching more college ball from now on.Too bad Avery won’t be playing in the summer league……welcome to Boston Avery Bradley.

  • Seafarer

    1) A REAL BIG no to Brad, he is a thug. Having him in our green would be like having Bill Lambeir with us in the 80′s. I am a real Celtics HOMER but would not enjoy watching anyone who employs this jerk. I might even stop.
    2) As a HOMER I love all our guys, but could we start looking at people under 30?

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