It's been two weeks and Miles hasn't let up yet. The small forward is playing the best overall basketball of his career, and he's finally taking full advantage of his athleticism.
Moreover, Miles appears to finally get it. He has six-plus seasons on his NBA resume. He's still only 24. He's in a contract year. And, in many ways, he's the most dynamic offensive talent on Utah's roster ― which is one of the reasons the Jazz have stuck by him for so long and picked up his $3.7 million contract option last June.
Even if Miles only gets 18-24 minutes per game and continues to come off the bench, the remainder of his career and his current team dually benefit when he doesn't worry about what he can't control and, instead, just cuts up the court when he's on it.
Miles entered training camp in the best shape of his career and wanted to crack Utah's starting lineup. That didn't happen. But after struggling through the initial part of the 2011-12 season, his confidence is at an all-time high. Miles doesn't think defenders can stay in front of him and he long ago proved he can drain multiple 3-pointers just by flicking his wrist. His defense has also improved and his basketball IQ is underrated. If Miles plays within Utah's offense and keeps his mind clear, he could double his time in the league before his NBA run is complete.
Excerpts from a postgame interview Saturday with Miles.
Miles on doing more with less: 18 minutes. Be aggressive. I know it's going to be 18. At the most it's going to be 24. I know that now. So it's, like, just go out there and play. I don't even worry about it anymore. If I get to stay on the floor, I stay on the floor. If I don't ― I mean, of course I want to be on the floor, obviously. And I think I make a case for myself to be on the floor. If I play well, it gives me a better chance to be on the floor. … I've been able to do well with those 18 the last couple weeks. That's another reason I don't have no reason not to play hard. If I know I'm going to be out there for 18 minutes, I can spin it. That's why I don't ever stop running. I tell Earl, 'I'm running.'
This is a good role for him right now: This is what it is. I've been able to have some success coming off that bench. I just play hard, play aggressive. If that's the role I've got to play, then it's a role that's needed ― I've been able to make some big plays that's helped us win games. I just take it as it goes instead of worrying about trying to make it something that it's not or trying to make it more than what it is. You do what you're supposed to do, you'll be on the floor and eventually, if something goes wrong, they're going to look at me like, 'Well, he's been doing it [right]. We've got to make a change.' I just know. That's it. Those 18 minutes.
The realization clicking in his head; playing with more freedom: [Screw] it. Excuse my language, but [screw] it. You know what I mean? I used to have that bad tendency. Now, it's like be aggressive. You're going to make shots. I've pretty much got to the point where I don't believe anybody can stay in front of me ― especially the way our offense is. As long as I can make one or two jump shots a game, I'm going to be fine. Like, I'm going to have to take some, just because there are going to be times when they're going to stop short and there's going to be under screens or whatever. But for the most part my head is down and I'm running to try and get that early pass so I can attack those guys. I get a charge? Eh. I'll take the charge. Most of the time ― I've only committed like two charges in this whole thing. I've been getting to the free throw line. And I'll take my chances shooting. I don't know what I'm shooting from the line, but it's only going to go up.
Brian T. Smith
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