A sharp shooter

C.J. Miles brings a three-point game to the Toronto Rap­tors

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY LORI EWING

The NBA’s shift to­ward three­p­oint shoot­ing has a big fan in C.J. Miles.

The Toronto Rap­tors swing­man has de­vel­oped into one of the league’s elite sharp-shoot­ers, and the three-point trend has breathed “new life” into the 30-year-old’s ca­reer.

Team pres­i­dent Ma­sai Ujiri of­fi­cially in­tro­duced his new­est player, who should be a big of­fen­sive boost to a team that strug­gled in the play­offs against the long bombs of the Cleve­land Cava­liers.

“We just signed a sniper, so we’re happy,” grinned Ujiri.

The six-foot-six, 225-pound Miles, who re­port­edly signed a three-year deal worth US$25 mil­lion, is com­ing off a ca­reerbest 41.3 per cent shoot­ing from three-point range last sea­son with In­di­ana.

That’s slightly bet­ter than team leader Kyle Lowry (41.2), and 12th in the league among play­ers who at­tempted at least 200 threes last sea­son.

“It’s ba­si­cally given me greater op­por­tu­ni­ties to be able to play this game, to be able to hone in on that and that to be one of the things to make my niche on a team and al­low me to be a greater weapon on a team,” said Miles, who went straight from high school to the NBA.

“It’s been ex­cit­ing to watch. . . It al­lows for tempo and scor­ing and every­thing fans want to see but it’s also a great weapon to have a basketball team. You’re talk­ing about three pos­ses­sions be­ing a 10-point run.”

The Rap­tors were 14th in the league in three-point per­cent­age, and the weak­ness was par­tic­u­larly glar­ing against Cleve­land in the post-sea­son.

Miles de­vel­oped his three­p­oint shot, he said, be­cause of “ma­tu­rity,” and at the sug­ges­tion

of for­mer Cleve­land coach Mike Brown.

“You’re al­ways in the gym but I don’t see you re­ally hon­ing in and work­ing on that with it be­ing such a weapon that you have,” Miles said Brown told him. “I ac­cepted that chal­lenge and I’ve taken pride in it over time and I’ve been able to use to my ad­van­tage, ob­vi­ously, and my team’s ad­van­tage.”

The Rap­tors were swept by Cleve­land in the sec­ond round of the play­offs, and Ujiri talked a cou­ple of days later about the need for a new cul­ture and play­ing style. The ad­di­tion of Miles, he said, is a big step in the right di­rec­tion.

“C.J. is a player who can space the floor a lit­tle bet­ter for us and make DeMar and Kyle have a lit­tle bit of room to op­er­ate,” he said.

“We are go­ing to pay at­ten­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of our young play­ers. They have to play so I think col­lec­tively we will try and do that and the style of play I think will mat­ter.”

Miles’ in­tro­duc­tion ends a busy stretch that saw Ujiri ship Car­roll to the Nets and Cana­dian point guard Cory Joseph to In­di­ana to pave the way for Miles.

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