Blazer Preview Part Six: Darius Miles

Darius Miles

Height: 6'9"
Weight: 210 lbs
Age: 25
Years Exp.: 6
Games Played: 40
Started: 23

Minutes: 32.2
Points:  14.0
FG%:  .461
3PT%: .200
FT%:  .534
OffReb: 0.6
DefReb: 4.0
TotReb: 4.6
Stl: 1.05
Blk: .98
Ast: 1.8
TO: 2.5
Ast/TO:  0.74
Fouls:  2.5

Assets

--Darius' calling card is his athleticism.  People are intrigued by him because he's a freak of nature.  He's fast, leaps like a gazelle, he's built well...the visions are of a shorter, lighter, faster Kevin Garnett.

--Darius also has a fair number of skills.  He can handle better than most guys his size.  He's perfectly capable of rebounding and then leading the fast break all by himself.  He can score from just about any position inside 18 feet.  When he's on his face-up crossover is unstoppable, period.  How many times have we seen him fake one way, go the other, and leave the defender grasping air?  Zach is the go-to guy but if you gave me one player, one possession with my mortgage on the line, it's Darius off the dribble from 10 feet out.  He's also developed a semi-reliable mid-range shot and post moves.

--He's has always been a high-percentage shooter for a guy who trades on athleticism.  He's by far the best percentage shooter of our double-digit scorers.

--Watching a motivated Miles play help defense is a thing of beauty.  He'll come from across the court (or from halfcourt on the break) and swat away a shot that you swore nobody could get.  It doesn't happen consistently, but when it does it's a crowd pleaser.

--The man can finish.

--Where Zach has pretty much maxed out his potential (even if he plays flawlessly you're talking maybe two more points and a board a game) you get the feeling that Darius hasn't touched his.  His scoring has trended upwards the last few years and the sky is still the limit.

Challenges

--The biggest question right now is his knees.  If they're bad his game suffers irreparably.  A creaky Miles can't do anything listed above.  That he's only played 70+ games in one of the past four seasons adds fuel to the fire.

--A close second, of course, is his attitude.  Six years is a long time to be discovering your potential.  His motivation can go from frenzied to nonexistent in the space of a quarter and when he's down he disappears completely.  He'll literally just stand still at one end of the court then jog slowly down to the other end and do the same.  In those moments "half-assed" effort is too much by two-thirds.

--His career high is only 14ppg and that's suspect because it was established in 40 games and not a full schedule.  Guys who haven't scored 20 by their fifth or sixth season don't ever do it.  Plus it took him 32+ minutes per game to average that 14.

--His turnover numbers are bad.  He can't be trusted with the ball at all.

--His free throw shooting is atrocious.  This is doubly damning considering he has exactly the type of game to draw copious fouls.

--He doesn't create near the number of opponent turnovers you think he should with that ability.  His on-ball defense is just as unpredictable as the rest of his game.

Notes

If I were playing against Darius I would let him have all the outside shots he wants.  If he tried to post or take it off the dribble I'd want an immediate double team because he doesn't pass well and is likely to throw it away.  I'd like a decent offensive player opposite him.  At least a third of the time Miles won't care enough to guard him.  If it's a night where he does care that'll keep him from roaming around and getting cheap help blocks.  I do not want Darius on the run so I'd make sure to tell my guys not to let him leak out.  If you slow down his game you take the better part of his effectiveness away.

I have real concerns about how Miles fits into this team this year.  Even with a potential increase in rebounds we're still not a running squad.  Miles has become more effective in the halfcourt but he's still not a possession type of player.  He commits too many turnovers, he has a hard time with shot timing (if not selection), he's not going to help the ball move, and he doesn't move himself all that well without the ball unless it's a clear alley-oop.  If you want someone to go one-on-one he's your guy but Zach already has that role on this team (and we don't even like it when he does it).  Factor in his stated desire not to be here, his "Dr. Darius, Mr. Miles" personality, and his willingness to play Zach's wingman in the coach-killing power bloc struggles and you're looking at a long, long year.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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