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Why Wolves Fans Should Be Happy To See Brad Miller Return

The Wolves need help at center. Right now they are starting one of the worst starting centers* in the league.

Their backup center* (who is probably has the strongest strengths of the three, if that makes sense) is a known foul machine.** But did you also know he's an complete turnover artist*** as well (which is related to the foul problem, admittedly)? Hope that Nikola Pekovic will reduce his errors, but not that he actually has a higher rate of fouls and turnovers this season versus last season. So we need someone effective who can take over the center for the game.

But what can the Wolves do? More after the jump...

Enter Brad Miller. Brought to the team as part of the Great Rambis Fire Sale, Miller is usually referred to as an throw-in for the deal, but I'd be willing to bet that Miller does okay on the Wolves. Why? Take a look at what Miller has done historically. Okay, but he's old, right? What's he done lately? Well, since turning 30, he's done pretty well, it turns out. Now he has had microfracture surgery, which I'll discuss later. But for let's compare him to Pek and Darko.

Compare the three in their most recent seasons. Check them out on a career basis. Now, that's a lot of data to look at, so let's just break it down to the Four Factors. Here's their latest seasons:

Player...................Season......eFG%.....ORB%.....TOV% .....FT/FGA.....ORtg.....DRtg......WS/48
Darko Milicic........2011-12.....0.469.........8.3............16.5........0.142.........90.........100.........0.043
Brad Miller............2010-11.....0.514.........4.9............13.8........0.264........117.......108.........0.142
Nikola Pekovic......2011-12.....0.629.........15.1..........28.4.......0.285.........102.......102.........0.102

And here's their career numbers

Player....................eFG%.....ORB%.....TOV%.....FT/FGA.....ORtg.....DRtg.....WS/48
Darko Milicic...........0.46.........8.5..........16.3.........0.1630........95.......105.........0.042
Brad Miller..............0.494........8.1..........13.6.........0.366.........114.......105.........0.150
Nikola Pekovic.........0.53........11.5..........23.2.........0.325.........100......110.........0.043

While Pek has done pretty well for himself the last few games, Darko is still a disaster. Keep that in mind, because even though Miller had surgery, I am betting he establishes himself as either the Wolves starting or second string center. Why do I think that? The Lower Extremity Review. Read the specifics for yourself, but the main takeaway is that the average reduction in PER for a player is 3.5. Now, I don't know of any place that has better data, so we'll have to use this as out starting point. So if we convert that to a percentage of Miller's PER and compare it to his WS/48. A comparable percentage decline in WS/48 would put Miller at 0.112, which would make him head and shoulders better than the other two centers. Even doubling that percentage loss would put Miller at .081, which puts him in second among or centers and makes him an effective backup.

Now, do I think that the Wolves are going to be going to make a run just by adding Miller? No, I don't. The wing positions are a particular weakness, especially small foward (which makes sense, because for all of our crying for a shooting guard, the Rubio/Ridnour/Barea combo is holding down the position well enough, albeit with no real margin for error. And more importantly, it's likely that center will still be a position of weakness, even with Miller in the rotation. The main takeway from this exercise is that short of being a player who shouldn't be in the league, Brad Miller should get minutes at the center spot, and giving them to him will help the Wolves win.

*As I was writing this, the Wolves game started, and Pekovic is starting! Thank god.

**While Pekovic is 184 out of 203 in fouls per 36 minutes among forwards and centers, I only listed that because Basketball Reference rather inexcusably has Pekovic listed as a forward, even though he has player every minute of both seasons at center. His 5.7 fouls per 36 minutes ties him for 30th out of 46 among all centers who have stepped onto court this season (which includes such stalwarts as Earl Barron and his 6 minutes of fame).

*** Second verse, same as the first. Except this time, Pekovic is 41st outof 46.

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