"Sometimes you just gotta unload the clip. With 30 games left, I think we're in a situation now where an aggressive Mike Miller helps this team, especially down the stretch."
That was Mike Miller talking (in the third person?) to the Chris Vernon Show on his 34th birthday last Wednesday, the morning after sealing a win over New York with a three-pointer in the final minute. It was the first of a three game tear in which Miller has gone from tepid wing shooter to legitimate offensive threat simply by upping his shot attempts - "going out and shooting the basketball," as Sean Tuohy might say.
In the three games since the All-Star break - a small sample, make no mistake - Miller has attempted 25 shots and made 16 of them (64%). He went 10-17 from three (59%) in those games, racking up 19, 13, and 11 points and truly off-the-charts advanced stats. His offensive rating is at 149, and his True Shooting Percentage, an especially relevant stat for three-point shooters, is at 84% trough the last three games. That's insane, and likely unsustainable, but it shows what a locked-in Mike Miller is capable of.
Even if the aggression doesn't hold up through the end of the season, it's a promising shift in tempo in what has been a disappointing year for Mike. Miller was the star of the Grizzlies' summer before taking a back seat to in-season acquisitions Courtney Lee and James Johnson. He's been a decent rotation player this year, but nothing like the transformative floor-stretcher the Grizzlies were hoping for. Not only have his seasonal numbers been underwhelming - 6.7 points per game on 46% - 42% shooting - but even at 21 minutes per game, his usage rate is one of the lowest on the team, ahead of only Tayshaun Prince and Jamaal Franklin. (10-day PG Darius Morris had a higher usage rate in 5 games than Miller has in 55.)
But when Miller is aggressive, his efficiency goes up and the team benefits, too. The loss to Charlotte notwithstanding, the Grizz have played well out of the All-Star break utilizing Mike's aggression, especially in transition opportunities. He's made a point of running laterally while the ball moves up the floor, rather than camping in the corner, making himself available to the ballhandler - in this case, Nick Calathes:
And in this case, shedding Matt Barnes (green circle) while Conley (red circle) works a double screen:
Miller's not the youngest or healthiest body on this Griz team - actually, this year, he might be - but when he can push down the floor and shed defenders, he's still one of their deadliest threats. He's clutch, too.
If he can maintain his aggression and efficiency, Miller will be a valuable asset as the Grizzlies look to push back into the top 8. Look for him to play most of his minutes with fellow Floridian Nick Calathes, who works better when surrounded by trigger-happy shooters who won't give him the ball back with the shot clock waning.