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- Measurables: 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, senior G/F from Kentucky
- Key Stats: 10.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 47 percent shooting, 38 percent 3-point shooting
- Projected: Second round to undrafted
- Hickory High Similarity Score
Why I like this guy
I’ve always kind of liked the ‘elder-statesman’ type players on Kentucky the last few years. A couple years ago, it was junior Patrick Patterson. Last year, it was senior DeAndre Liggins. This year, senior Darius Miller fits that bill.
All three of those guys are examples of players with the physical skills that suggest they would be excellent first or second options on a lot of college teams, but because of the many dynamic underclassmen they’ve played with, all three of those guys settled into more complimentary roles. This year, Miller does a bit of everything. He’s a good spot-up shooter, he runs the floor, he plays hard and he’s a solid passer for a wing player. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that he can do things like this.
Pros for the Pistons
Miller has two assets that make him potentially attractive to the Pistons as a second round pick: he makes them bigger and more athletic on the wing, something they desperately need, and he gives them another spot-up 3-point shooter, something that has been a weakness for the team this year.
The Pistons are committed to Tayshaun Prince as the starter for the foreseeable future, but beyond him, things are up in the air. Austin Daye is under contract for just one more season, and he doesn’t really defend well enough for Lawrence Frank‘s liking so far, plus his main skill — shooting — has failed him this season. Kyle Singler might stay overseas, and even if he did join the team, there are still questions as to whether he’s athletic enough to guard NBA wings. Jonas Jerebko might be better suited for small forward, but unless the Pistons add depth to their frontcourt, he could get stuck playing most of his minutes at power forward for another season.
Miller has the prototypical build that Daye lacks for the NBA small forward position, he has the shooting ability that the team is weak in currently and he’s already used to being a complimentary player. All of those things should be selling points for him with one of the Pistons’ second rounders.
Cons for the Pistons
Unlike Liggins last year, Miller isn’t a lockdown perimeter defender. Liggins’ lacked a NBA-ready offensive skillset while Miller, though not a terrible defender, doesn’t always have the later movement to defend really fast wings. As a bench player in the NBA, that will not be a huge issue, but teams considering him will certainly want to see him improve that in predraft workouts.
Though his shot is good and he has range out to the NBA 3-point line, he also is the beneficiary of playing on a Kentucky team with three likely lottery picks. Kentucky has playmakers all over the court who command the attention of the defense. Right now, the Pistons only have one player, Greg Monroe, who draws extra attention from defenses. Miller would have to adjust to perhaps getting less clean looks at threes than he’s become accustomed to. Good shooters can definitely do that, but there’s a big difference between being a role player on a good team, which he is now, to a role player on a bad tea, which he’d be joining if the Pistons picked him.
What others are saying
- Very good spot up shooter
- NBA 3 point range on his jumper
- Solid penetrator
- Good size/athleticism for position
- Has been a reserve is whole career
- Can struggle to control penetration as a defender
On the defensive end, Miller has shown some development, but still gives up too much dribble penetration. Miller has done a nice job contesting jump shots, and has had some very nice possessions, but is still plagued by the lapses in concentration and effort we described in our last report. Considering his physical gifts and potential on this end of the floor, Miller’s ability to better use his size and strength more consistently on this end is worth keeping an eye on.
Miller has played a key role for Kentucky, injecting his unselfish mentality in order to maintain a balanced and poised attack. Though his skills are rarely showcased due to his talented surrounding counterparts, Miller has shown a soft touch in the midrange and as a spot-up threat on the perimeter. He’s hit at least three three-pointers in three of his last five games, while proving capable of shooting off a pump-fake and dribble.
He’ll be asked to play the same role at the next level that he plays in college, so the transition process won’t be overly daunting. While his ceiling is low, a playoff team looking to fill their rotation will likely use their second round pick on this serviceable reserve. He went from #60 to #47 in our 2012 mock draft.
Throughout his career in Lexington, Miller has been overshadowed by flashier, younger teammates. But there was one prominent witness who offered righteous testimony to what the kid had just done. “Miller is the fiber that holds that team together,” Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. “He has got one thing nobody else on the team has. He has got experience. … All those other guys deserve what they get, but Miller is their most valuable player.”
Miller has spent his entire career as the guy who operates effectively in the background while his more celebrated teammates take center stage. He never has been even a second-team All-SEC selection. It’s perhaps only fitting that the individual honor he finally earned this season was the conference’s Sixth Man of the Year award, after he moved from the starting lineup into a reserve role.
This is a guy so unselfish that he actually got benched during a regular-season victory over Mississippi State because he passed up an open shot. Yet he also knows when to take over. In that same game, Miller scored 12 points in the final eight minutes to help Kentucky come from behind.
What is the best thing Darius Miller does for his team?
Darius Miller has a rare combination of size and feel. He can pass, shoot with range, attack the rim, handle the ball in almost all situations and defend 3 or 4 spots. In college, he was a nightmare matchup at 6’8″ when playing the 2-guard. The best thing Darius Miller does for Kentucky is glue the team together, kind of like Draymond Green for Michigan St., only within a supporting role. He leads by example, and he does what he has to do to get Kentucky to a victory.