When the Cleveland Cavaliers signed LeBron James back in July, two of their first moves after James committed were to sign Mike Miller and James Jones to very cheap deals. Both were former LeBron teammates, noted 3-point shooters, and quality veterans that the team thought they could rely on. When I wrote previews of both Miller and Jones before the season, this is basically what I thought the expectations should be. Miller was going to be a floor-spacer as a regular rotation player, and Jones would be a surprisingly integral part of the rotation as a marksman from the corner and potentially not-awful wing defende. So far, though, both have failed to live up to expectations even slightly.
Both players have received a fair amount of playing time, and both have done nothing with it to make it appear that they are deserving of their minutes. Miller has started 14 contests for the Cavs, and is averaging just 2.9 points per game. He's shooting just 35.4 percent from the field, and while his 35.3 percent from three-point range would be just over league average, it's the worst percentage of his career. As you can see from the shotchart below, he can't hit anything from the right side of the floor, which is negating a pretty solid mark from the left wing:
Meanwhile, James Jones is almost the polar opposite of Miller. He's been acceptable from the corners and right wing, but my word, that left wing:
Jones has appeared in 22 contests this year, and while he's getting less minutes than Miller, his performance has been about equal in disappointment. Jones is hitting just 34.7 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from three, and while he's been less consistent than Miller over the course of his career, that's a far departure from his 51.9 percent clip last season in Miami.
As you can see from both charts, neither player ever really strays inside the arc. They've mostly been there in an attempt to spread the floor for Kevin Love, LeBron, and Kyrie Irving to create. As this is the case, you'd expect them to just swing the ball around, waiting for opportune moments to take open shots, and hit them. However, while both have certainly swung the ball their fair share, both are failing at crucial parts of that equation. Miller has been far too judicious on his shot selection this season, as he has continuously passed up three-point looks unless he's been wide open. He's shot 82.3 percent of his shots with four or more feet of space, per SportVU, and even then, he is shooting 22.9 percent on shots with a defender between 4-6 feet away. He's not a threat unless he is basically completely unguarded right now.
Jones, meanwhile, has been a little quicker, to pull the trigger, taking 37.3 percent of his shots with a defender 2-4 feet away and 57.3 percent with a defender four-plus feet away. However, his percentages make no sense with how you'd conventionally think: He's hitting 42.9 percent with 2-4 feet of space, compared to just 33.3 percent with 4-6 feet and a ghastly 31.8 percent on wide open shots. So much for spacing, as you can confidently leave Miller kind of open and Jones wide open and their percentages indicate that they aren't threats here.
Those issues are before we get to the defense, as both guys have been atrocious. Opponents shoot 6.8 percent better than league average with Jones defending, and an absurd 12.2 percent better on threes. Miller has been better, with opponents hitting just one percent better than average overall; however, he's allowing a 11.7 percent increase inside of six feet, per SportVU. That's......not ideal. Unsurprisingly, lineups with Jones have an absurd defensive rating of 115.3. Lineups with Miller are actually better defensively than those with him off by three points/100 possessions, but pair them? It results in a DRtg of 111.1, something that was exposed during David Blatt's weird late-game decision to put both in when the Cavs needed stops in Tuesday night's loss to the Suns.
Hope is coming; Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith's presences mean that Miller and Jones will probably see reduced playing time coming up here in the next few weeks, and Shump being healthy likely completely pushes Jones out of the rotation. However, that doesn't take away from just how disappointing both players have been this season. At the very least, we thought that Miller and Jones would be extra floor spacers to help the Cavs' offense generate points. So far, neither has helped at all in that regard, and their performance has been one of the many disappointing things about the season.