When the Indiana Pacers signed C.J. Miles, it was hard to tell if they expected him to back up Lance Stephenson or if they already knew Lance was gone and were looking for a replacement in starting lineup.
We now know there is no more Stephenson to back up.
That doesn´t necessarily mean Miles will start.
Frank Vogel could easily chose to rely on players he is familiar with and start two combo guards. The starting back court could be C.J. Watson and George Hill. Or Hill and Rodney Stuckey, depending on how much promise the Piston acquisition shows in training camp.
Or maybe Vogel will simply keep all the incumbent players in their normal roles and slot C.J. Miles in at the 2 to replace Lance.
Miles hasn´t averaged more than 21 minutes per game in three seasons — and never more than 25 mpg — so it is debatable whether he can be out there as much as Vogel usually plays his starters. Further adding uncertainty is the fact that Miles is now playing for a defense-first squad and his defensive flaws have been, at least in part, why he hasn´t ever logged heavy minutes in his career.
No matter what C.J. Miles` role becomes, however, we know he is now a Pacer and that he will be a prominent piece to space the floor and add some more efficiency to Indiana`s woeful offense.
To gain more insight, we reached out to Trevor Magnotti of the SB Nation Cleveland Cavaliers blog Fear the Sword to get his take on what the former Cavalier will bring to the Pacers.
8p9s: How would you assess Miles’ play overall last year?
Magnotti: Miles was a pretty solid player overall for the Cavs last year. He averaged 9.9 points, 2 rebounds, and an assist per game last year, but how that came about was largely a guessing game. Miles would go a stretch of three or four games in a row making a minimal impact, and then would explode for 15-20 points over a period of 2-3 games (If you want good examples, look at his games against Indiana from December 31st and January 5th last year).
He was a nicely versatile player for the Cavs, however, able to play both wing slots and at a minimum providing spacing on offense and serviceable wing defense. It just would have been nice to see more consistent play from him, but then again, no one was consistent on the Cavs last year.
8p9s: It seems as though shooting is what he most brings to the table, and that is why Indiana signed him. But are there other elements to his offensive game that Pacer fans can look forward to?
Magnotti: Miles can stroke it from three, yes, but he’s overall a very efficient scorer when he’s on the floor. Miles averaged 10.6 points per game in his Cavs’ tenure, but during that time he posted 18.9 points per 36 minutes, indicating that he can get points quickly and efficiently in limited minutes.
Outside of three-point shooting, Miles is also effective attacking the basket off side pick-and-rolls and dribble hand-offs, and was a top-10 scorer in terms of points per possession in both of those categories last year, per Synergy. One of the Cavs’ favorite plays to run for Miles was to run him off a dribble hand-off with Kyrie Irving and have him immediately curl to the basket. Miles also has one of the better floaters in the NBA, and has no problems finishing over traffic, which helps him on this type of action.
Outside of scoring, there isn’t much else Miles offers. He’s an average passer and does very little on the offensive glass. However, with how efficient he can be as a floor-spacer and slasher, this really isn’t of concern. I think if Miles plays a similar role to what he did in Cleveland, the Pacers will get good value out of him offensively.
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