Mike Miller’s Time With Westchester Knicks Prepared Him To Be An NBA Head Coach

By Keith Schlosser | December 7, 2019

Over the course of an NBA season, so much is often made about an NBA G League player earning that coveted promotion and receiving their time to shine at the next level. But now, Mike Miller is the one who will be stepping up to the plate, assuming head coaching duties for the New York Knicks.

Coach Miller received his NBA call-up earlier this season when he joined New York’s staff as an assistant. With a new kind of spotlight on him, he’ll have the chance to see if his past success as head coach of the Westchester Knicks will translate to The World’s Most Famous Arena.

The Knicks’ organization has seen first hand what Coach Miller can do. He’s acclimated himself to the team’s culture, overall vision, and the way they want to play. He’s in a unique position to execute things moving forward. Moreover, the coach was at the reins of the minor league squad for the past four seasons, making evident strides each and every year:

  • 2018 NBA G League Coach of the Year award winner
  • Three NBA G League playoffs appearances in four seasons
  • Helped Westchester Knicks win their first playoffs series in 2018-19
  • 108-92 overall record as head coach.
  • Oversaw multiple NBA call-ups each season, with at least one player each year (Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Jimmer Fredette in 2015-16, Chasson Randle in 2016-17, Trey Burke in 2017-18, and John Jenkins and Billy Garrett in 2018-19) joining the NBA club after spending time with Westchester.

Racking up the wins and earning playoff births is impressive simply at the surface, but it arguably takes even more effort and greater attention to detail at the minor league level, which should say even more about Coach Miller’s abilities. There are many moving pieces each and every day. An NBA G League head coach is tasked with keeping team morale high as players come and go via midseason NBA call-ups, making it tricky to frame one’s offensive attack and/or rely upon certain players to serve as defensive anchors on a given night. It’s also up to the coach to keep players focused on contributing to a winning product, all while pondering what the future may hold in terms of a promotion of their own. Minor league players sometimes sacrifice playing time to NBA assignees who arrive in town, and it’s the coach’s job to balance all of this. Of course, while the head coach manages things on the hardwood, they often serve as a support system off of it, singing praises of their players to NBA teams in hopes of seeing them advance.

Coach Miller balanced all of this quite well. As evidenced in the team’s various NBA call-ups, it’s also clear he worked well with New York’s front office to help prepare young players and ensure they were familiar with the big league system and could contribute when the time was right. The fact that New York called up a number of players directly from Westchester during Coach Miller’s tenure demonstrates a display of trust.

The front office has taken a leap of faith in Coach Miller to lead the big club, but if his track record is an indicator of anything, he’s ready for the moment.

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