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NBA Top 150…146 & 145

The countdown rolls on…

146) John Drew – 6′ 6″ SG/SF from 1974 – 1985…Quite simply, John Drew was a gnarly athlete for whom basketball was just easy and natural. He could flat out score…and rebound. In high school in Alabama, he averaged 41 pts/gm for his career, then went to Gardner Webb University, a small college in North Carolina, where he averaged 25.9 pts and 13 rebs his sophomore year before entering the NBA draft. A 2nd round pick taken 25th overall by the Hawks, he immediately showed how mistaken the NBA scouting departments were (yep, they were dumb back then, too), averaging 18.5 pts and 10.7 rebs (career best, including NBA best 4.6 offensive rebs/gm) his rookie year. He went on to average over 20 pts six times in his career, peaking at 24.2 with 9.1 rebs/gm in 1976-77, the first year the league combined with the ABA, making it a far deeper league that once again included all the best players. Strangely, he only made two all-star games, in 1976 and 1980. He was overlooked in that ’77 season, ’78 season (23.2, 7.3 rebs, 48%), and ’79 season (22.7, 6.6 rebs, 47.3%). And in 1980, his numbers were far worse across the board when he was selected to the game – 19.5, 5.9 rebs, 45.3% (maybe this was when his coke habit started?). Drew had a great knack for getting to the charity stripe throughout his career, seven times finishing top 7 in free throw attempts, four times top 5. He had a great handle for a 6’6″ guy as well, but there were two major drawbacks to his game: he wasn’t much of a passer, only twice averaging at least 2 asst/gm (and never more than 2.2), and his numbers declined greatly in the playoffs. In his peak playoff years, he averaged only 16.3 pts, 6.4 rebs, and shot just 40.8%, compared with impressive entire career numbers of 20.7 (#41 all-time), 6.9 rebs, and 47% shooting. Unfortunately, his propensity for nose candy got him a lifetime ban from the league for drug use in 1985 at age 30. Also sadly, he now drives a taxi cab in Houston and basically refuses to talk about his NBA career, or ever visit his hometown in Alabama, where he’s still regarded as a hero.

145) Andre Miller – 6′ 2″ PG from 1999 – Today…Here we have yet another PG from Los Angeles (Compton, went to Verbum Dei) and from the 1999 draft (Baron was the 3rd pick, Miller 8th…quick aside, definitely one of the better drafts of the last 25 years – Rip Hamilton was 7th, Shawn Marion 9th, Jason Terry 10th, and the other top 4 picks were Elton Brand, Steve Francis, and Lamar Odom. Others in the top 24 were Kirilenko, Artest, Corey Maggette, and James Posey). But the similarities end there with Baron & Andre. Whereas Davis is (was?) an explosive athlete with a large personality who loves to shoot from distance, Miller is an average athlete by NBA standards, a very low-key personality, and has only twice in his career made more than 20 three-pointers in a season. But that hasn’t stopped the 12 year veteran from carving out a very solid NBA career so far, a career in which he has missed only 6 total games. He was the best player on his team twice (years 2 and 3 with a pretty poor Cavalier team), and the 2nd best player 7 more times (definitely his 3 years in Philly behind Iguodala, in Den he was tied with Camby behind Melo, but Camby missed 10, 16, and 26 games in those 3 years, so the tie goes to the guy who missed exactly zero games those 3 seasons. Last year was 2nd behind Aldridge in Portland). He was 3rd best on his team his other three seasons: Behind Shawn Kemp and Lamond Murray his rookie year, behind Brand & Odom his one year in L.A., and then behind Roy & Aldridge his first year in Portland. His career numbers are remarkably consistent: 4 times at least 15.8 pts (peak of 17.0 in 2008), never lower than 13.4 pts/gm in years 2 through 11, top 10 in assists seven times, peaking his 3rd year in the league when he led the NBA with 10.9/gm. He also had 9 straight years of at least 4 rebs/gm, and has been a steady pickpocket over the years with a career average of 1.4 stls/gm (#50 all-time) – never less than 1.0/gm, never more than 1.7. He is a rock solid floor leader, knows how to run a team, run the fastbreak, use a variety of crafty head fakes and shoulder fakes to drive to the hoop, and takes good care of the ball. He has only been over 3 turnovers a game three times in his career, and has been at 2.5 or under the last four seasons. Unfortunately, he has never made it past the first round in the playoffs, but his numbers are again solid for the 39 postseason games he has played – 16.5 pts, 5.1 asst, 4.3 rebs, 45.1% shooting. His career regular season numbers are 14.4 pts, 4.1 rebs, and 7.2 asst (#23 all-time). Andre Miller – the quiet professional who built a remarkable resume the last 12 years while no one was really looking.

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