Brandon Miller’s tools could lift OKC Thunder to elite heights

Brandon Miller #24 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Brandon Miller #24 of the Alabama Crimson Tide (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The fit of Brandon Miller for the OKC Thunder is astounding. However, if the ping pong balls shift the fate in favor of the Thunder, the potentialities could be dangerous.

Brandon Miller, who stands at six-foot-nine with a seven-foot wingspan, has been projected to be a top-three prospect entering the 2023 NBA Draft. However, the lottery luck to bring him to Oklahoma City may be slim, having only an eight-percent chance of jumping to the top four.

With Lottery luck, Brandon Miller can elevate the Thunder’s ceiling.

20-year-old Brandon Miller averaged 19 points, eight rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block per game in 37 games for Alabama. It was an impressive freshman year for Miller, becoming a first-team All-American for the Crimson Tide.

He is a smooth forward who has shown brilliance on offense through his outside marksmanship, capability as a scoring valve, and playmaking prowess, among others.

Miller shot 38 percent from three on close to eight attempts in college while nailing about 86 percent of his free throws on nearly five tries a game. His true shooting rate was at 58 percent in his lone year for Alabama — a solid mark considering his reps as an offensive cog (26 percent usage rate).

He shot an outstanding 40 percent from catch-and-shoot looks on 201 three-point attempts while punishing defenses with his unguarded looks, which tallied 48 percent. His shooting dip, at first glance, looks a little low, but his quick release on his shots seemed to offset this potential weakness.

That aptitude on offense, coupled with the positional length he could bring, must be considered in the Thunder context. His fit within OKC’s offensive system — which often relies on paint touches, dribble penetrations, and kicked-out threes — around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Chet Holmgren, and Jalen Williams is mouth-watering.

With his size and innate tools, Brandon Miller has showcased elite fluidity at the collegiate level. His upside as a reliable go-to scorer off-the-dribble was evident too. His bag includes some hesitations, inside-out dribbles, and crossovers while flaunting credence with his left hand.

While he showed solid playmaking flashes, his advanced reads, especially on screening actions, are something to improve on.

His switch ability on defense is also an intriguing factor for him, as the Thunder often loves to deploy switches, pre-rotation, and chaotic scrambles on the defensive end.

His long wingspan should help him disrupt passing lanes and trigger some turnovers, an area in which the Thunder led the league this season. The Alabama product has also shown great timing in numerous stretches for Alabama, often on defensive recoveries and chase down chances. His effort is not in question defensively.

So far, the biggest question of his game is his finishing around the basket. Down the stretch of the season, Miller shot just 40 percent near the rim in the final seven games. While he improved a lot across the season, his angles on drives, lack of physicality on penetrations, and ability to finish through traffic are concerns.

If he ends up with the Thunder, he could learn a lot alongside Gilgeous-Alexander, who led the league in drives and is a machine at finishing at the rim.

Brandon Miller’s combination of skill, size, and shooting is an added luxury for an OKC Thunder team looking to fill in the missing pieces to its title puzzle. With his skillset and tools, his stock is undeniably high. Fate can only tell if he’s destined to be a Thunder.

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