When you talk about key additions this summer, the top of mind answers would be Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets, Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to the Celtics and Isaiah Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers. For the Toronto Raptors, the offseason was more of a subtraction than addition.
Filling Up an Important Need
The Raptors lost Patrick Patterson, P.J. Tucker, DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph to either free agency or trade. As for addition, the significant name added to the Raptors’ 2017-18 roster is C.J. Miles to their roster. The Raptors landed Miles by trading Cory Joseph to the Indiana Pacers in July. While Miles may not be in the superstar mold of Butler, George, Paul and Irving, he fills an important need in Toronto.
Last season, the Raptors finished 21st in the NBA in three point field goals made per game with just 8.8 three point makes per outing. And after losing their second ( Caroll ) , third ( Ross ) and fourth ( Patterson ) most productive three point shooters of last season, the Raptors needed help. That’s where Miles comes in.
Improving in Every Stop
C.J. Miles came directly from the Skyline High School for Architecture in Dallas, during the last year NBA teams were allowed to draft high school stars. He spent his first seven seasons with the Utah Jazz before playing two years for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Miles spent the last three season with the Indiana Pacers and if you take a look at his averages, he’s improved every stop he’s made in the league:
|Points per Game||3P made per game||3P attempts per game||3P%||eFG%|
Special mention has to be made for C.J. Miles’ 2016-17 season. That’s because he shot an impressive .413 from three point distance ( 15th in the NBA ) with 2.2 three point makes per game ( 25th in the NBA ). Miles’ 169 threes ranked only second to Eric Gordon for three pointers made by a player coming off the bench. Don’t forget that Gordon was Sixth Man of the Year last season, so Miles is in good company.
Spacing The Floor
More eye catching is that Miles converted 50.8% of his corner threes ( 2nd to Kyle Korver ) and made 66 corner three pointers ( 2nd to Klay Thompson ). Now we all know that the corner three isn’t just the shortest three point area, it’s also the one that gets the most attention from weakside defenses. Let’s talk about the latter.
The reason why the Raptors didn’t really go after the All-star free agents of the summer is because they have their own All-Star backcourt already. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have made the Eastern All-star team in the past two seasons. We know these two can put up the numbers but when the defenses tightened up in the playoffs, they struggled with their shooting. With an excellent floor spacer like Miles who draws weakside defenses with his three point marksmanship, Lowry and DeRozan have more real estate to work with and thus have better scoring opportunities.
Hopes Are High
No, C.J. Miles will not be a game changer like say Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Chris Paul or Kyrie Irving with their new teams. But what he does is make life easier for Lowry and DeRozan with his floor spacing abilities. That should make the Raptors’ backcourt more effective, especially during the playoffs.
Likewise, playing with two excellent scorers like Lowry and DeRozan who demand defensive attention should give C.J. Miles more open looks and when both kick out the ball to him, you bet C.J.’s ready to nail those corner threes for the Raptors. With Jonas Valanciunas playing impressive basketball in the current FIBA Eurobasket tournament, the prospect is good for the Raptors.
According to the sportsbookers, Toronto’s odds of winning the NBA title is +6600 ( taken from Betway ) That’s tied with Milwaukee for fourth best in the East after Cleveland, Boston and Washington. That’s almost the exactly same spot they were last season when the playoffs began. Hopefully, the addition of an excellent three point shooter like C.J. Miles is going to make a difference this time around.