RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Darius MillerPosted by AMurawa on May 21st, 2012
The NBA Draft is scheduled for Thursday, June 28, in New York City. As we have done for the last several years, RTC’s team of writers (including Andrew Murawa, Kevin Doyle, Evan Jacoby, Matt Patton, and Danny Spewak) will provide comprehensive breakdowns of each of the 35 collegians most likely to hear his name called by David Stern in the first round on draft night. We’ll generally work backwards, so for the next week or two we’ll present you with players who are projected near the end of the first round, and we’ll work our way up into the lottery as June progresses. As an added bonus, we’ll also bring you a scouting take from NBADraft.net’s Aran Smith at the bottom of each player evaluation.
Note: Click here for all published 2012 NBA Draft profiles.
Player Name: Darius Miller
Height/Weight: 6’8”/235 lbs.
NBA Position: Small Forward
Projected Draft Range: Second Round
Overview: Miller is one of those increasingly rare breeds: an NBA Draft prospect who has just finished up his senior season in college. In his four years in Lexington, Miller never approached the level of a go-to player (the 18.8% of possessions he used in his senior season was the highest of his career), but that may be one of his biggest strengths. Playing alongside NBA-level talent for four straight seasons, his proven unselfishness is one of his most positive attributes. He understood well what role head coach John Calipari wanted him to play and did his best to excel within that framework — he defended on the perimeter, knocked down open shots and took care of business. And, perhaps more than anything else, he won. In four years, his teams went 124-28 (with half of those losses coming as a freshman under Billy Gillispie), went to two Final Fours and won a national title. While he’s certainly not the first guy you think of when you remember the 2012 UK national championship team, his ability to embrace his role not only was a key component of his team’s success, but it will suit him well as he makes the transition to the NBA. His future at the professional level may look much like his recent past, as he will likely never be better than the fourth or fifth option on the floor at any given time, but if he can knock down open looks and hold his own on defense, he’s got a chance to stick.
Will Translate to the NBA: There is one constant at every level of basketball: they only roll one ball out there for every game. At the professional level, where only the best of the best remain, you can’t have a team where everybody wants the ball in their hands at all times. Miller has proven that he can be an effective player away from the spotlight. He’s adept at moving without the ball, keeping proper spacing, and has shown an ability to knock down open looks when they arise. While his three-point percentage dropped from the blistering 44.3% he shot as a junior to a merely good 37.6% as a senior, he’s shown NBA range and a willingness to step into the right shot when needed. Throw in the fact that at 6’8” and 235 pounds he’s got the frame to handle the big boys at the next level, and Miller looks the part of an NBA wing.
Needs Work: He’s got the athletic ability to become a solid defender at the next level, but he is not yet an elite defender. Aside from knocking down jumpers, it would really help his chances to stick around if he develops as a more trustworthy defender. Don’t get me wrong, he is solid, but he is prone to allowing dribble penetration and from time to time his effort wanes a bit. While his size and shooting ability will get him a look, if he can’t out-defend other players at his position, his NBA shelf life may be limited.
Comparison Players: Maybe Robert Horry? Chase Budinger? A small forward who can sit in the corner and knock down threes, help out a bit on the glass and hold his own defensively. The type of guy who is a bit above-average athletically and can fill a lane on the break, but still tough enough to battle with stronger wings in the paint when necessary. It is a stretch to see Miller having the impact that a guy like Horry has had over his career (so maybe somebody like Shawne Williams and his career 5.7 PPG average is more like it), but they share a lot of the same plusses and minuses.
Best Case Scenario: The ceiling for Miller is not really that high. If he sticks around in the league for eight seasons and spends half of those earning double-digit minutes per night, that’s a good career for him. Odds are strong that he never averages double-digit scoring over a single season in the NBA, but given the right fit, he could make an impact on a playoff-caliber team before his playing days are done.
Best NBA Fit: We know Miller doesn’t want to wait through 52 picks to hear his name called, but he could fit in well with the Clippers if they pull the trigger on him with the 53rd pick. With Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan spending most of their time in the paint, Miller could be a good release valve for Chris Paul to find when his penetration draws defenders. And with all the current wings on that team (Caron Butler, Bobby Simmons, Ryan Gomes) likely closer to the ends of their careers than the beginning (and certainly closer to the ends of their contracts), there could be an opportunity for minutes there for a youngster.
Scout’s Take: (from NBADraft.net): “Some argue that he was Kentucky’s top shooter, Doron Lamb included. While not a sexy upside pick, Miller should carve out a niche in the league with his all around skill level.”
*This post was contributed by RTC’s Andrew Murawa. He can be found on Twitter @amurawa.