Andre Miller was never the most outstanding player to take the court at any point in his career, but he was still an excellent player for much of his career. He balanced his scoring with his playmaking in a way that a point guard should be able to, and it helped him carve out a role for himself no matter which team he found himself on. That was important because Miller played for nine teams throughout his 17-year career.
Miller saw what it meant to be a point guard change right before his eyes
Miller played his career at an interesting point in NBA history. He entered the league during the 1999-2000 season, in which the game of basketball was just beginning to realize how important three-point shooting was becoming.
By the time Miller retired after the 2015-16 season, the game of basketball had changed entirely. Teams were shooting threes at a rate never seen before, and players were able to create roles and careers for themselves based solely on being able to hit threes at a high clip. That didn’t bode well for Miller, who finished his career shooting just 21.7 percent from three and seemed to get caught up in the wave of change towards the end of his career.
The three-point revolution radically changed how teams operated on offense and how they had to defend at the perimeter, mainly regarding point guard position. As a point guard himself, Miller saw this change firsthand, and he was amazed at how the evolution of the point guard position played a significant role in changing how the game of basketball was played as a whole.
“You go from guarding Chauncey Billups, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, we were all getting older. And then you got Chris Paul, (Damian) Lillard, Russell Westbrook with the young legs, you got (Steph) Curry coming in. I mean, it was like, what’s going on here? It was like a hybrid. They took the game from the point guard, the little guy position, and it just went over that cliff as far as the shooting, the ball-handling skills, just their movement and shooting alone, it just took it to another level. And that was something that took the league to where it is today once those guys started coming in.” - Andre Miller, Forgotten Seasons.
Miller recognizes how the point guard position has changed from when he entered the league
When Miller entered the league as the eighth overall pick of the 1999 NBA Draft, being a point guard meant something completely different. While you were expected to chip in scoring, the point guard’s primary responsibility was to control the offense. Whether that meant finding open teammates or getting looks for yourselves, it was all done to put points on the board.
Nowadays, point guards take on a much larger scoring burden because of how well many of them shoot the three or do other things rather than just passing the ball. Of the names listed, Chris Paul probably is the closest thing the NBA currently has to a true point guard. But that’s because guys like Steph Curry and Damian Lillard have come in and been able to shoot ten threes per game at a 40 percent clip. You can’t argue against shooting threes when you take that many and such a high percentage of them.
Playmaking is still an essential part of being a point guard, but when you have a guy bringing the ball up the court that can score 30+ points on any given night, there’s less of an emphasis on taking the ball out of that guy’s hands. That has made it rare to see players like Miller nowadays, who were pass-first point guards who let their offense come to them.
The evolution of the point guard position has changed the game of basketball. Threes have never been more critical than they are in today’s game, and a large reason for that is because the best three-point shooters are typically point guards. Miller provides a unique perspective given all that he saw throughout his career, and it will be interesting to see what change comes next for the game of basketball.