Andre Miller: Who Benefits, Who Not So Much...

Obviously there's still plenty of Andre Miller talk to be had after the weekend so let's take a look at who benefits most (and perhaps least) from Andre's acquisition.

Greg Oden should find Miller to be a little slice of heaven offensively.  If the Blazers have Greg in the post Andre should be able to feed him there.  It's more likely that Portland will be looking for Greg to catch the ball on the way to the basket either off the screen or keying off of somebody else's penetration.  Andre should be great at either approach.  It's hard to think of a better (obtainable) point guard for this purpose.  We've already talked about the lack of relief for Greg on the defensive end but at least Miller shouldn't be dumbfounded by the first screen he sees while defending.  Oden may have to deal with penetration but maybe he won't get hung out to dry on opposing point guards as much.

Rudy Fernandez looks tailor-made to play with Miller on the offensive end.  Andre wants to drive and dish?  Three!  Rudy wants to cut?  Whoop!  Smooth pass...conversion.  A guy who can get to the hoop and pass is just what the doctor ordered for Rudy's offensive game.

Nicolas Batum should see his responsibility increase with Andre on the floor.  As with Rudy, Miller is more than capable of finding Nic for the corner three or the baseline cut for the jam.  The Blazers will also need every defender they can get with a Miller-Roy backcourt.  Hello Nicolas!

Martell Webster should see more open threes if he and Miller play together, similar to Rudy and Nic.  Andre may be able to help him develop his rim attack as well, providing Webster can catch it.  Martell will need to show some defensive chops as well though.

Brandon Roy will probably find some of the pressure taken off of his shoulders.  No longer will he be the only multi-threat offense initiator in the backcourt.  Miller can handle the ball and knows what to do with it.  If Roy and Miller mesh Brandon should absolutely love Andre's heady play.  The double-edged sword is that Roy flourishes with the pressure on his shoulders.  Many of his best moments in the last two years came when the Blazers gave him the ball and said, "Lead us."  Miller will probably be wise enough to let this happen often.  After all, he played with Andre Iguodala who is much more of a me-first scorer than Brandon is.  But Miller is not the same kind of idiot-proof, play-off-of-Brandon safety valve on offense that Steve Blake is.

LaMarcus Aldridge is another guy Miller knows he has to feed.  It will be interesting to see the dynamic between the two.  Aldridge was used to being the early option on many Portland plays last season.  He may have to share the ball more now.  Whether that balances out with the (hopefully) better looks he gets remains to be seen.  I'd love to see LaMarcus dive to the hoop off of Miller's penetration much as Greg Oden will.

Joel Przybilla will continue to get offensive opportunities if he plays with Miller but, though improved, that's never going to be the best part of his game.  Miller probably makes Joel important to have around defensively, to spell Oden if nothing else.

Steve Blake gets hurt at a causal glance.  However he and Miller are quite different in their approach and it's not likely Blake will be phased out entirely unless he's traded.  The Blazers will still need his outside shooting and his ability to hold down the fort.  He'll probably not start though and he may see 10 minutes shaved off of his game.

Travis Outlaw will probably not benefit from having Miller around.  It's tempting to envision fast breaks and alley-oops but in reality Travis has never been that good at catching the ball on the run.  Outlaw's best offense starts and ends with the ball in his hands, which is not likely to happen as much with Miller on the floor.  Neither is Outlaw's defense up to the level of his teammates'.  Miller's scoring potential alone may ease the need for Travis' contributions.  The one saving grace here is Outlaw's three-point shooting ability.  That should flourish.  But Travis is wasted being a spot-up shooter.  Maybe Travis' game will evolve further getting to play with a guy like Miller.  We'll see how it works out.

Jerryd Bayless gets the raw end of this deal unless and until Steve Blake is traded.  Bayless and Miller have similar offensive profiles except Andre's jump shot is better, he's far more experienced and competent, and he can pass.  Unless Bayless really excels defensively it's hard to imagine a situation where the coach would call on him instead of Andre.  Bayless' best hope is to push Blake down to the third point guard spot but that's a tall order at this point.

Coach McMillan is probably turning cartwheels over this acquisition.  No matter what else he likes and dislikes about Miller's game he'll know that he doesn't have to explain much to him.  He won't have to teach.  He'll barely have to remind.  Miller will see most things the same time Nate does.  He also has the skills to do something about it.  That's a combination the Blazers have been lacking for a while.

Miller joining the team brings challenges, but they're outweighed by the potential benefits.  Most of the Blazers should love Andre unconditionally.  Even those who might find their game impacted negatively will probably have a hard time arguing against his contributions.  He's going to make the game easier for many of Portland's key players.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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