While Doron Lamb waits until next week, I churned out a quick overview of his role-player teammate at Kentucky: Darius Miller. Currently ESPN rates Miller #42 with draftexpress at #34, so he definitely falls near Cleveland’s second-round picks.
Miller’s strengths are twofold; at 6’ – 7” and 238 pounds with suitable athleticism, he meets the physical expectations of an NBA wing. Second, on 280 three-point attempts over the past two seasons, he’s drained a prolific 41%. Having turned 22 in March, he understands his offensive limitations, allowing him to rack up a respectable assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.4. Confining him to his “role” is a lack of adept shot-creating, which results in nearly half of his shots coming from three and less than two free throw attempts in his 26 minutes a game. On defense, he’s neither a liability nor a lock-down guy. Largely non-existent on the boards, his defensive rebounding percentage ranks him 73rd of the 79 SEC players that appeared in more than 24 games. That’s not good.
Onto some game recaps:
In their Elite Eight tilt versus Baylor, Miller posted 8 points on 52% true shooting; overall a quiet game, as 4 of his points came through off-the-ball fouls. Oh, and ZERO rebounds in a season-high 35 minutes…that should not happen to a small forward. He displayed impressive court vision with three assists, while also skipping a nice bounce pass hockey-assist in transition and driving & alley-ooping to Terrence Jones, only to have the play wiped out by a foul against Baylor. On defense his stance is too vertical, which inhibits his lateral movement, and on a few occassions allowed a quick guard to speed past him. Otherwise, his defensive performance was solid. A stealthy post double-team snagged him a steal, and he jumped a passing lane nabbing another. Battling through screens, he pursued his opponent well and he also made proper rotations to obstruct otherwise open shots at the basket. One heady play involved trapping out of a mismatch to allow the UK defense to rotate to their proper assignments. Finally, for a stretch in the second half he played PF, and although he looked overmatched, Baylor scored no points from PJ3 or Quincy Acy when matched against Miller. Overall, a commendable effort in helping his team win.
In UK’s 69 – 61 Final Four triumph over Louisville, Miller pitched in 13 points and 3 rebounds on 74% true shooting. Much of his damage offensively was accomplished using what appears to be his favorite move; two righty dribbles, followed by a hop-step left into the paint for a 10 – 12 footer. Six points on three possessions originated this way. Combined with another pull-up jumper, his mid-range game looked solid. Despite only one turnover, two ball-handling miscues narrowly avoided demerits on the box score; once he dribbled off his foot only to watch a diving teammate recover, another time he drove into traffic and got tied up, but was saved by the possession arrow. Quick hands and feet corralled two steals, and he fought hard through screens, but his non-ideal defensive fundamentals again left him prone to abuse from speedy ball-handlers.
Summary: The team that drafts Miller won’t throw parades about it, but I think his size, shooting, and ability to fit in, keeps him in the league for awhile. My crystal ball shows…a player similar to the Indiana version of Brandon Rush (not the career year Golden State version). A jump-shooting wing with an 10 or 11 PER that does enough to keep seeing court time. There are certainly worse types of players picked at #34, but when all is said and done, I will probably recommend someone else.