Why the Spurs May Find It Impossible to Pass on Brandon Miller
Brandon Miller is widely considered to be one of the top three prospects in the 2023 NBA Draft along with Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson. However, off the court issues have caused league observers to state emphatically that the Spurs won’t draft him.
Even if it’s a long shot that Miller ends up with the Spurs due to non-basketball reasons, there’s no doubt that the Spurs will have to dig deep and figure out if the off the court risks outweigh the potential on the court rewards.
Brandon Miller’s Strengths
These days, there’s nothing NBA teams want more than a talented wing creator who can shoot, dribble and pass. Miller fits that mold. If he reaches his peak, the 6-foot-9 wing could be the go-to scoring weapon on an NBA contender.
The most exciting attribute Miller brings to the table is his shooting. At Alabama, he averaged nearly 19 points per game and hit 38.4% of his three-pointers and 85.9% of his free throws. The freshman can knock down shots off the move, off the dribble and in catch-and-shoot situations.
While he’s not yet an elite passer, Miller sees the court well and can deliver passes on the move and from a variety of angles. He’s even skilled enough to handle pick-and-roll duties and should develop into a talented enough ball-handler to bring the ball up the court under heavy pressure.
Miller is a good athlete who moves around the court like a great athlete due to the fact that he’s extremely coordinated for his size. His footwork is naturally excellent, which allows him to seemingly get from point A to point B with ease.
Defensively, Miller has quite a bit of potential. He’s tall, long and light on his feet, which should cause him to be at least an adequate perimeter defender down the road. He also has trustworthy instincts that give him a high ceiling on that end.
Areas of Concern for Brandon Miller
Considering that the Spurs tend to put a lot of stock in character, Miller’s off the court issues can’t be ignored. In fact, other teams believe that the Spurs ultimately won’t draft him due to these issues.
Although Miller wasn’t charged with a crime and wasn’t punished by Alabama, the 20-year-old freshman — knowingly or unknowingly — transported a gun to a teammate that was ultimately used in a fatal shooting. Subsequently, Miller was criticized for a pregame “pat-down” introduction.
What makes Miller’s situation more difficult to ignore are his parallels to Joshua Primo, the embarrassingly poor draft pick who the Spurs were forced to waive four games into his second season in the league. Primo was selected with the 12th pick of the 2021 NBA Draft but turned out to be a spectacular bust due to lewd off the court conduct.
Comparing Miller and Primo: Both players went to Alabama. Both players entered the draft after their freshman season. Both get glowing praise from Alabama head coach Nate Oats.
On the court, Miller is far from a flawless prospect. He has a low release point on his jumper, which could limit his three-point shooting volume in the NBA. The 20-year-old (who is quite ancient for a freshman) has a weak body and struggles to deal with contact. On a related note, he shot only 48.3% on two-pointers at Alabama.
Miller was also really underwhelming in the NCAA tournament. In three games, he was only 8-for-41 (19.5%) from the field and 3-for-19 (15.8%) from three-point range. Was he slowed due to the groin injury he was reportedly dealing with, did the pressure of the tournament get to him or did teams successfully gameplan against him? NBA teams will investigate.
A Scout’s View: Brandon Miller’s Fit on the Spurs
While most scouts I’ve talked to believe that the Spurs wouldn’t draft Miller due to the aforementioned off the court issues, one Eastern Conference scout liked the pairing: “He’d give the Spurs a player they could try to be built from. They’re a ship lost at sea. [Miller] gives direction.”
Final Thoughts on the Spurs Potentially Drafting Brandon Miller
Though the Primo parallels would make drafting Miller a tough sell to ownership and a few individuals in the front office, I wouldn’t completely rule it out. If Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson go one and two and the Spurs have the third pick, it’s not easy finding another player in this draft that can be justifiably drafted prior to Miller. If the Spurs have the fourth pick and Miller is still available, passing on him would almost be impossible due to his tantalizing skillset.
That said, my guess is the Spurs don’t end up with Miller. If they’re in a position to draft him, my assumption at this point is that San Antonio would trade the pick for multiple first rounders before they would actually pick Miller.