C.J. Miles, the veteran swingman entering his thirteenth season, wasted no time making his mark with the Toronto Raptors. Opening night against the Bulls, C.J. rumbled through with a terrific debut - 22 points and 5 boards on 7 of 12 shooting. He was 6 from 9 on threes, and it looked as if the Raps’ found that sharpshooting sparkplug off the bench. C.J. Miles followed that game with an off-night against the 76ers but rebounded with 13,10, and 9 point games.
C.J. was looking good enough to find a spot in Zach Lowe’s coveted weekly column; Ten Things I like and don’t Like:
”Kilometres (C.J Miles) doesn't even care if he's facing the basket when he catches the ball; he'll twirl around -- in midair, mind you -- and heave that sucker up.This is part personnel and part Dwane Casey coaching outside of his comfort zone to reinvent an offense that craps the bed every postseason. Kilometres is at the center of it, bombing away as part of a delightful, five-man bench mob.”
Lowe is right in one way - Miles is still heaving those suckers up. In his 18.6mpg, he’s putting up 5.8 threes a game on 36% shooting from deep. That works it’s way to 11 threes a game per 36.
Miles is currently on pace to put up his worst shooting season (FG%) since he was an 18/19-year-old 2nd rounder fighting for minutes on the Jazz back in 2005.
To play devil’s advocate on myself, C.J is a career 36.1% three point shooter. He’s currently hitting them at 36.2%. So why am I writing this? Why is a roleplayer performing to his standards a troubling conundrum? Because C.J is better than this.
C.J is coming off of a borderline career year in Indiana. He 41.3% on threes, TWENTY PERCENT better than his 2nd best season from three! Miles was wildly efficient last year. Ten points a game on 41% from deep, 56%efg and a serious threat to the defense to can it at any time from deep? We need this!
Raps’ fans were a tad skeptical when we dealt ol’ Cojo to the Pacers for Miles. All we could do was assume Delon was ready to go (and thankfully, he is). But now Miles has to hold up his end of the bargain. In that first game against Chicago, he looked like a force to be a reckoned with. A three-point assassin off the bench that will cause opposing coaches to constantly be scrambling with matchups. C.J can be dynamic on both ends of the floor.
Obviously, 22 points a game isn’t the expectation for C.J, but it is a demonstration of his capabilities - even if it was against the Bulls. He’s come a long way since his ineffective first few years, wherein his 10 minutes a game, he couldn’t bring his three-point % out of the mid-twenties. Something clicked going into his 3rd season, and especially since his 4th. He shot the ball better, and was more efficient in every way.
My point is, I think C.J has another gear he can reach. He’s got to reach that 40% clip on his threes, dig in, and perform his role as that veteran/shooter/leader off the bench. His role on the Raptors is much more important than most people think.
Come April 18th, C.J Miles will be turning 31. He knows himself. He’s not a young run-and-gunner still figuring himself out. He’ll get out of this slump; he knows he’s better.
For the Raptors - following a crushing loss to the red-hot Celtics (sans Irving and Hayward) - they continue the road trip with a deadly Houston matchup (potential for C.J. to thrive in some fast pace ball) and a battle with the bigs in New Orleans. C.J. Miles is a much better shooter than what he’s shown Raptors’ fans so far, but the clock is ticking to prove his doubters wrong. Crossing my fingers for C.J. to breakout on this road trip. It’s going to happen at some point. Why not now?