In a draft class where most of the top picks didn’t go the conventional college route, Alabama forward Brandon Miller stands apart. Miller is averaging 19.9 points and 8.2 rebounds per game for a Crimson Tide team that is the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament. Miller is a special offensive player, and the fact that he was the 2023 SEC Player of the Year — and a consensus second-team All-American — says everything you need to know about the kind of year he’s having.
Miller will enter the draft with more baggage than your average prospect as Tuscaloosa police have claimed that the freshman was responsible for bringing his former teammate, Darius Miles, a gun that was later used to kill a 23-year-old woman. Alabama head coach Nate Oats described this as a “wrong place, wrong time” situation, but people are going to have their doubts — and many wanted Miller suspended. After all, this was a situation that ended with Miles being charged with capital murder.
The off-court issue doesn’t appear to be impacting his draft stock to this point. In fact, there is a lot of buzz about Miller having jumped Scoot Henderson on a lot of draft boards; the G League Ignite guard has been the consensus No. 2 in this class for years.
When breaking down Miller’s game, the first thing you must talk about is his ability to shoot. Miller is a 6-foot-9 forward that is drilling 39.5% of his threes. He is also doing it on ridiculous volume, as he attempts 7.4 triples per game. Miller’s mechanics are as clean as they come, as he has textbook form and shoots an effortless ball. The 20-year-old is comfortable shooting on the move, off the dribble and as a spot-up, pick-and-pop option.
Miller is so polished as a shooter that he’ll be able to step in and space the floor immediately. NBA coaches are going to love drawing up plays for him to showcase his ability to shoot off movement. Players with his size and shooting ability don’t come around very often, and it’s easy to scheme open good looks for this specific archetype. Given there are small concerns about other areas of Miller’s game, it’s huge that he has one elite skill. It almost seems like his floor in the league is turning into a player like Trey Murphy III or Cameron Johnson. However, there’s more upside with Miller.
A lot of people were quick to write off Miller’s ability to create offense for himself earlier in the season, but he has popped a lot more as an all-around scorer in the second half of the year. Miller doesn’t have the tightest handle in the world, but he is plenty capable of consistently beating slower forwards off the dribble. And there was a play in Alabama’s February 25th game against Arkansas in which Miller completely crossed up Anthony Black, who is one of the best guard defenders in this class. That was an eye-opening play for Miller, as he blew by a guy that usually defends quicker guards and does it at a high level.
This Brandon Miller basket scoring on one of the best guard defenders in the draft in Anthony Black has been on my mind. pic.twitter.com/1e7hwlO1XX— Global Scouting (@GlobalScouting_) February 26, 2023
Miller has also started to show off his athleticism a bit more as the season has gone on. Miller had some insane dunks throughout his high school career, but he didn’t exactly attack the rim with ferocity in the first half of his freshman year. Then, Miller flipped a switch and started to use his leaping ability to his advantage. That resulted in Miller throwing down some powerful jams when he had a step on his defender. Every time he does that, he makes himself tougher to guard. If Miller is scoring as a driver, defenders won’t be able to play up on his jumper.
It should also be noted that Miller has had some serious “onions” moments this season. Alabama won a lot of games in blowout fashion, but Miller stepped up in the clutch when the Tide needed him — whether that was the game winning layup he had in a 41-point performance against South Carolina or the countless three-point daggers he hit to put other opponents away. It goes without saying that every team in the league wants a guy that can score in big moments. And the fact that Miller looks unflappable late in games is sure to pique the interest of some scouts.
Quite frankly, Miller is a complete offensive prospect, and he happens to play one of the most valuable positions in basketball. Miller has a guard’s skill set inside a forward’s body. He isn’t quite Paul George, but there are some similarities there and NBA teams are going to have a hard time passing on somebody with that type of offensive ability and versatility. In fact, we’re fresh off an NBA trade deadline in which teams were offering packages that included at least three first-round picks for some of the league’s stronger starting forwards.
The fact that Miller is also a solid defender is a huge bonus. Miller uses his length to his advantage, and he moves his feet well. The forward has been sturdy as an on-ball defender for one of the best defenses in college basketball, and there’s no reason to believe that won’t translate to the next level. That’s not to say that Miller will be a shut-down defender or anything — we’re certainly not trying to compare him to George on that end of the floor. But he shouldn’t be anywhere near an on-court negative defensively. And he’s a guy that should be able to check small forwards and power forwards in the NBA, while also being able to step out and give guards trouble in a pinch.
If there’s any noticeable flaw when it comes to Miller’s ability to defend, it’s that the forward lacks the strength to defend some of college basketball’s stronger bigs. He’ll occasionally get punished by forwards that like to score around the basket. But Miller should improve his functional strength considerably once he starts working with NBA trainers. That will give him the ability to bang with some of those forwards in the NBA — although there are less of them than you might think.
Miller isn’t as sexy of a prospect as Victor Wembanyama or Henderson, but there are quite a few teams in the lottery that probably like where they are at the point guard position. If that’s the case, we wouldn’t be able to blame them if they decided Miller was their cup of tea with the second pick. A forward with Miller’s positional versatility and ability to make shots is extremely valuable in today’s NBA, and whoever gets him is getting a great consolation prize. Miller has the potential to be an All-Star in due time.