www.sacbee.comBonzi Wells sized up his sizable teammate and came to this conclusion.
"Brad Miller," the Kings guard said, "is our point-center. Never heard of that before, but that's what he is for us."
What it means is Miller, all 7 feet of him with the ability to peer down on the defense, mans the high post and seeks the cutters and movers. And through eight games and three victories, it has become clear to the Kings' success: Miller is effective only when his teammates are cutting and moving. No movement means no Miller moments, with the Kings transformed into a grinding, halting mess. Bumper cars clogging the arcade.
Miller leads the team with 5.3 assists a game, a rare figure for centers, but not necessarily for the Kings over the years in coach Rick Adelman's scheme. The quick math shows that when Miller's assists are up - and when he's dropping in 16-foot jumpers when defenders cheat down on the moving parts - the Kings are dangerous. In a 118-117 triumph over Phoenix, Miller produced 17 points and eight assists. In a 101-85 rout of Denver, 12 and 10. In Tuesday's 119-83 drubbing of Utah, 14 and six.
And the reverse: In a 93-67 loss to New Orleans/Oklahoma City, Miller managed four points and two assists. In a 102-88 setback to Detroit, eight and three. In a 105-95 loss to New York, 11 and three. In a 107-91 defeat to Denver, 16 and three. Sense a trend?
"We run a lot of things through him," Adelman said of his veteran. "He sees the court really well. When he's involved, when we're moving, we're pretty good. He's not going to be able to do much unless we're moving.
"He's going to see the plays (as long as teammates move and cut). We walk around the floor like we did against New York, and no one's going to look good."
Miller said growing up in hoops-mad Indiana, he learned to dribble, shoot and pass before he hit a major growth spurt in his late teens. His skills granted him a chance in the NBA after going undrafted out of Purdue.
He was acquired from the Indiana Pacers in a 2003 trade by the Kings, who provided him with the ideal passing mentor in Vlade Divac, one of the top passing centers in history.
Miller came into the season averaging 14.8 points and 4.1 assists in two seasons with the Kings, and the team winning nearly 70 percent of its games (76-33). And in a preseason NBA general manager's poll, Miller was voted as the player who gets the "most out of least." That's a nice way of saying he's not at all athletic. Miller knows it's true, that if he tries to move too swiftly laterally, he's liable to tip over like timber.
"I take pride in being able to do a lot of things," Miller said. "It's fun when it works, when the passes work. I want to get people involved."
And Miller offers a lifetime assist to Divac.
"I learned a lot from Vlade," he said. "He made it unbelievably easy to see and understand the reads, what he was looking for, how he got passes in there. He was by far the best passing big man I've ever seen, and maybe a top three guy all time ... very, very crafty.
"I wish I could've played with him for three years and learned his whole bag of tricks and repertoire. I can still learn and get better."