It’s Hall of Fame week, which means players and coaches are going to say very nice things about former teammates set to be inducted on Friday. At any time outside that friendly context, I’d be worried that the Warriors had hitched their team to a head coach with cloudy judgment when it comes to pretty basic things. Their coach, Mark Jackson, said the following about Reggie Miller, set to enter the Hall on Friday (via Mike Wells of the Indy Star):
“When you take Michael Jordan and you take Kobe Bryant out of the discussion, he’s as good as any two-guard that has ever played the game,” Jackson said.
Miller was a fantastic player whose longevity, nearly unprecedented for a wing player, allowed him to pile up insane career numbers; only 16 players have scored more combined ABA/NBA regular-season points than Miller’s 25,279. And Miller isn’t just a longevity Hall of Fame case. He was the centerpiece of an Indiana offense that typically ranked among the league’s 10 best (and higher during the late 1990s/early 2000s), and he was ahead of his time in embracing the three-point shot as a game-changing weapon. Miller took more threes than five entire teams in 1989-90, and he relied on the triple for between one-third and nearly half of his shot attempts for the bulk of his career. He got to the free-throw line more than people remember, even if he had to use some shady leg kicks and flops to get there, and he dished a respectable number of assists — though an expected number, given how much attention he’d draw curling off screens on the wing.
He pulled a rare postseason double for most of his career, taking on an increasing burden within Indiana’s offense (more shots, higher usage rate) while also increasing his efficiency. That’s hard to do. Miller’s postseason career is littered with crazy clutch shots, most famously against the Knicks (especially in 1995) and his game-winner in the conference finals against Chicago in 1998, a series in which the Pacers came closer to beating Chicago than any other team during Michael Jordan’s run of titles.
And while Miller’s frail frame and so-so athleticism meant he was never going to be much of a defender, he was smart about positioning and played heavy minutes for very good defensive teams. Read More…