You couldn't throw a proverbial dart into a crowd of NBA pundits this offseason without hitting someone talking about how youth and depth were going to be important factors for teams in this compressed NBA season. Now I like to question the narrative as much as the next unknown blogger, but this one seemed to hold up. There was no doubt that the fresher your legs could be when facing stretches of back-to-back-to-backs or 7 games in 9 nights, the better. Teams with deep benches could keep from playing starters 36 to 40 minutes a night and we all know that younger guys recover easier than veterans.
Last night's Nuggets/Sixers game was a great example of two teams that have benefited from the youth/depth theory. And when the contest went into overtime the obvious hero in a game between fountains of youth would be...35 year-old Andre Miller. Miller had 28 points on 12 of 20 shooting including 3 for 4 from three, a distance he's never particularly excelled at. Add in his 10 assists and 8 boards and Miller ended up with a +18 for the game, better than any other player. He hit the go-ahead basket to put Denver up 106-104 and then forced a steal after retreating on a double-team against Jrue Holiday.
It should be no surprise that Miller is continuing to play well. Despite playing at the mad dash pace of the Nuggets, Miller hasn't slowed a bit. His assist rate is 34.8 with just a 10.5 turnover rate. In case you are wondering, those numbers are better than starter Ty Lawson. Of course Lawson is still the logical player to start, but the Nuggets benefit from having one of the better backup point guards in the league. Miller is also insanely durable. This season will be the first in which he has played less than 80 games, you know, because there are only 66. My guess is he plays in about 65 of them.
Yes, young, deep teams will be best equipped to handle this battle of attrition that is 66 games in 120 days. But let't not completely forget some of the vets who are ready to keep up with the youngsters.