Last week we brought up the point guard battle going on in Portland, and were pretty certain that after signing Andre Miller to a three-year, $21 million deal, it was a no-brainer that the 12-year vet was going to start. Not so fast. According to The Oregonian, Nate McMillan was very clear with Miller when the team recruited him this summer saying that he “envisioned Miller coming off the bench, running pick and rolls with Oden and funneling fast-break passes to Fernandez and Webster streaking on the wings.” And it appears that’s how it’s going to be.
“The one thing is, I don’t (mess) around with you in the summer,” McMillan said, becoming stern. “When I tell you something, that is what I’m thinking. So when I told Andre that he was coming off the bench, I was for real. Now, he said he wanted to start, and I understand that. And there is a chance he could. I’m not saying we won’t go there.”
Managing one of the deepest rosters in the League, McMillan envisions his starting unit staying intact from last season with Steve Blake, Brandon Roy, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and Joel Przybilla beginning the games, and Miller, Fernandez, Webster, Travis Outlaw and Oden coming off the bench.
“I do see something in that unit,” McMillan said. “I think that can be a unit that is very difficult to defend and play against — whether it’s the first or second. There is a balance there — we can run pick and rolls, we can run post-ups, we can run turn-outs, we can trap … we can do the same thing with this unit as we can with that unit. So there’s a balance.”
As anyone knows, it doesn’t matter who starts the game, but rather who finishes them. For example, while Batum would lineup around the circle to start each night last year, Outlaw was the one nailing jumpers in the clutch. Still, when you’re dealing with a former No. 1 pick in Oden and a guy who’s started in every single game that he’s played in since the start of the 2000-01 season (except one after being traded to the Sixers from the Nuggets), there’s much more involved than meets the eye.
Personally, I love what McMillan is doing. Starting Blake and bringing Miller off the bench will make the Blazers that much more of a dangerous team. Lamar Odom bought in to coming off the bench last season and the Lakers won a title. If Miller and Oden can adjust to not coming out for the pre-game intros, then the Blazers might be able to do the same.
What do you think?
Source: The Oregonian
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