When I think back to Brad Miller in the 2007-08 campaign that has ended for the Kings center, my synapses will fire off this memory (and, no, not the one from above that started the season on a hair-raising note)...
I have to admit - and this is no exaggeration - that I never thought we would see that again. After his 2006-07 season, the last thing I saw coming was a resurgence that included high-flying Youtube clips of the big man who had been grounded for so long. This particular highlight was followed by the best soundbite of the year that never hit the paper.
After Miller celebrated this dunk with a crotch-area gesture a la Sam Cassell , Ron Artest said, "Sometimes in life you've just got to do that. When you're doing something you may never do again, you've just got to grab your crotch."
As we would later learn, though, that would not be the last time. After Miller spent the offseason rededicating himself to the game and being inspired by fatherhood, he was new and improved in every way. Not only did Miller re-introduce the attack-mode to his offensive game, he hit the boards so hard he wound up ranked 14th in the league on the glass (9.4 per game). The rebounding efforts - and the health - weren't there last season, when former coach Eric Musselman would have killed to have this year's version of Miller.
Don't believe me? Check out E-Muss' Wikipedia file, which I'm convinced was written by the man himself considering the nature of all the super-positive news links. There's a line in there that says "not a single Kings player ranked in the top 50 in rebounding or blocked shots (last season)." And while that's not entirely accurate (Artest was 36th in the league in rebounds, leading the Kings with 6.5 per game), the point is well taken.
Miller improved his defensive presence as well, although it peetered at the end when the bumps and bruises caught up with him. In all, he was a far better version of himself than anyone expected. And considering he's still on the books until 2010, it's a success story for Miller and the Kings.
Take a moment to compare, and appreciate, the before and after...
Field-goals attempted/made (3.6-7.8 per game); Field-goal percentage (.453)
Threes attempted/made (0.1-0.5); Three-point % (.152)
Free throws attempted/made (1.8-2.4); Free-throw % (.772)
Blocks per game (0.6)
Rebounds per game (6.4)
Assists per game (3.6)
Points per game (9.0).
Field-goals attempted/made (4.7-10.1); Field-goal percentage (.463)
Threes attempted/made (0.4-1.3); Three-point % (.311)
Free throws attempted/made (3.6-4.3); Free-throw % (.848)
Blocks per game (1.0)
Rebounds per game (9.4)
Assists per game (3.7)
Points per game (13.4)
Well done, Brad. Well done... - Sam Amick