C.J. Miles 2016 Season Review

Pacers sharpshooter C.J. Miles talked about his 2015-16 season and his mentality moving into next year.

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C.J. Miles 2016 Season Review

Pacers sharpshooter C.J. Miles talked about his 2015-16 season and his mentality moving into next year.
May 26, 2016  |  02:59

C.J. Miles 2015-16 Season Highlights

Check out these top plays from Pacers swingman C.J. Miles from the 2015-16 season.
May 26, 2016  |  02:39

Player Review 2016: C.J. Miles

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Age: 29
Years pro: 11
Status: Has two years remaining on his contract, the second one a player option.
Key stats: Averaged 11.6 points while shooting 41 percent from the field, including 37 percent from 3-point range. Averaged 14.2 points as a starter, but just 3.4 in the playoffs.

C.J. Miles put on one of the all-time life-ain't-fair demonstrations in franchise history this past season, getting far less out of it than he deserved.

Becoming a sympathetic figure wasn't his goal when he put in all those lonely hours inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse over the summer. By all accounts, he had the best off-season of all the players. Although it was difficult to know exactly what those who worked out in other cities were doing, Miles was a familiar and fatigued figure around the fieldhouse.

He worked on his body, incorporating yoga and Pilates into his routine to become stronger, more flexible and 15 pounds lighter. He also put up endless shots, developing a workout ritual he dubbed the "Pacers 100," in which he shot 100 3-pointers from around the arc. He got up to 85 made shots and was hoping to get to 90, but teammates returning from their summers began taking up court space with pick-up games.

GALLERY: C.J. Miles' Season in Photos »

"Just being a pro," he said before the season began.

A lot of good it did him.

Miles had finished the previous season well, averaging 18.8 points on 49 percent shooting, including 48 percent from the 3-point line, over the last four games. That, and the prospect of becoming a starter in the Pacers' new spread offense, inspired his diligent summer and gave him hope of becoming the player he had imagined becoming when he entered the NBA draft out of high school in 2005.

For awhile there, it was going well. He started all but one of his games during the 12-5 start, although he missed three of them with an injury. He went on to start 23 of the first 34, and had some big ones along the way. He scored 18 points in each of the first two games, and later had at least 16 in five consecutive games. One of those was a 32-point performance at Washington on Nov. 24, when he hit 8-of-9 3-pointers. Two weeks later, he hit 8-of-11 3-pointers and scored 27 points at Portland, and had 24 points in the homecourt loss to Golden State.

PLAYER REVIEWS: Read More Season Recaps »

Gradually, though, it began coming apart. He had volunteered to take on the dirty work of playing the "four" position that originally was designated for Paul George, and his body paid the price for absorbing all the contact around the basket. He missed three early games with a sore right ankle, then missed two games at the end of December with a sore lower back.

"I was in great shape to play my position (one of the wings), but not in great shape to get beat up (while playing four)," he said later. "I had never been in that position before. I had never been hit that way, at least that much for a period of time. It wore me down, and I was trying to figure out how to keep from getting hit (while playing).

"It was slowing me down and taking me away from the extra work I like to do. I was trying to make sure I had the legs and energy to heal up and play in the game. It was tough; it was different. And we were starting to win games, so I definitely wasn't going to complain about it. If that's what I had to do to make us better, that's what I had to do."

By the end of December, coach Frank Vogel had abandoned small ball for a "big" lineup, with Lavoy Allen starting in the four sport. When Myles Turner replaced Allen on Jan. 28, bringing more scoring punch, Miles' role as a reserve was set.

DRAFT CENTRAL: The Latest Pacers News On The 2016 Draft »

That was OK with him, but it didn't go well, either. His shooting was erratic as he tried to regain his health, and Solomon Hill's delayed emergence reduced his minutes. So did various ailments. He missed a game with a stomach virus in February, but came back the next game at Orlando to score 14 points and hit 6-of-8 shots in just 13 minutes – only to suffer a strained left calf muscle that kept him out of the next nine games.

He also missed a game in March with an upper respiratory infection, but got his body and game back together at the end of the season. He averaged 13.7 points while hitting 48 percent of his three-pointers over the last 10 games, and 16 points over the last five games – including a 25-point outing at Philadelphia – before having to sit out out the last two with a sore right shoulder.

If that didn't seem like fair compensation for his devoted summer and sacrificing season, it got worse in the playoff series with Toronto. He just couldn't get anything going. Playing in all seven games, for an average of 13 minutes, he averaged just 3.4 points and hit 2-of-20 3-pointers. He put in extra time, before and after practice and on his own, but it didn't pay off.

Hardly the ultimate reward he had been seeking.

It's not as if Miles couldn't handle the pressure. He had performed well for Utah in his previous postseason appearance in 2010, averaging 14.4 points, and had excelled in high-pressure games late in the 2014-15 season when the Pacers were striving to earn a playoff spot. It just didn't work out for him. It happens that way sometimes in sports and life.

Despite the unhappy ending to his season, Miles remains a valuable asset. He's a mature and upbeat presence who accepts whatever role given to him, and provides badly needed 3-point shooting. It's easy to forget now that he averaged 14.2 points while hitting 42 percent of his 3-pointers as a starter last season. He averaged 10.3 points on 33 percent 3-point shooting off the bench, but he can handle that. The most influential factor for him is consistent playing time, whether it's as a starter or reserve. He hit 42 percent of his 3-pointers last season when playing 30 minutes or more, 36 percent when playing 20-29 minutes and 32 percent when playing 10-19 minutes.

If he can work up the optimism to put in another summer like the last one, it might work out better next time around.

"It's going to happen when it happens," he said during the playoff series. "If you play the game the right way and keep respecting the game and keep working and stay ready for the chances you get …"

Rewarded. Usually.


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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