Is Miller's Shooting Missed?

by Conrad Brunner

October 9, 2003

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Q. Last season, Brad Miller had the ability to hit the 15-18 foot jumper, which allowed Jermaine O'Neal a huge luxury. It has been well-documented that Jeff Foster has continued to struggle with his shot, and Scot Pollard has yet to be put into a position to where scoring was needed from him. How important is it going to be for Scot Pollard to be able to consistently knock down the jumper, in order for the middle to open up and enable O'Neal to do his work down low? If Indiana can't find any outside scoring from Pollard, Foster or any of the big men, can it make a long year for O'Neal, or at least make his game a bit more stressful? I think Pollard will be a nice addition to the Pacers, I just fear that Brad Miller’s game will be sorely missed. (From Jeff in New Castle, IN)

A. There certainly were mixed results in the first game. Pollard looked comfortable in the halfcourt offense, hitting a couple of jumpers in the third period and scoring eight points in 19 minutes overall. Foster, on the other hand, continued to struggle with his shot, going 0-for-7. This is not to suggest Pollard can shoot as well as Brad Miller, but no one is expecting that. Truth be told, Miller’s presence didn’t really change the way defenders played O’Neal. He still faced double-teams virtually every time he caught the ball. What Miller provided was a big target for O’Neal’s passes, and a guy who could take advantage of the opening the defense created when it doubled the post.

Double-teaming defenses offer other opportunities, though. They create gaps and seams that a slashing scorer can exploit. That’s why Kenny Anderson could play such an important role. When the ball is reversed out of a double-team and finds its way into Anderson’s hands, he can either shoot the mid-range jumper or use his penetrating skills to get inside and create scoring opportunities. Ron Artest and/or Al Harrington can also assume more scoring load; both have become much better at making the spot-up shot. Pollard’s presence is expected to improve the overall defense and rebounding; there are plenty of other players capable of contributing to the offense.