In 2010, the Denver Nuggets’ Quincy Miller was seen in a very different light. Coming out of high school he was ranked among other top prospects in his class, such as Anthony Davis, and had begun to receive Kevin Durant comparisons before he received his high school diploma. Despite tearing his ACL during his senior year, Miller was heavily recruited by many top schools but ultimately chose to join Perry Jones III at Baylor University. With Miller in the fold the Bears drew national attention as a team to watch and expectations were raised for everyone. Then, after just one season at Baylor, Miller elected to turn pro by entering the 2012 NBA Draft.
Once expected to be a top-10 pick, Miller fell into the second round. There were concerns over his injury history being just one year removed and over his size. Evidently Miller’s productive season at Baylor post-injury was not enough to convince NBA teams that he was still capable of becoming the player he once was and he was now going to have to prove himself yet again.
“The D-League helped me a lot. I went down there and showed a lot of people what I could do. It was going well with my team even though we were losing, and I think I played pretty consistent,” said Miller following the Nuggets’ 93-81 summer league loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
Playing for the Iowa Energy gave Miller the chance to earn those crucial developmental minutes that a young player like himself needs. For a team like last year’s Nuggets that was full of playoff aspirations it would have been very unlikely they could have given Miller the 24 minutes per game he saw with the Energy. Sure enough, Miller played well enough to earn a call up in December after putting up 11.3 points per game and 6.8 rebounds to go with 1.4 blocks per game, although his efficiency never reached that of his Baylor days.
According to Miller the biggest benefit he saw from his time with the Energy was that it helped ease the transition from college to the pros by allowing him to adjust to the speed and physicality of the professional game at a steady pace. Although Miller still struggled during his first six games with the Nuggets, his seventh and final game before returning to Iowa was encouraging. In that final NBA appearance he shot 2-3 from the field with a rebound and no fouls or turnovers in four minutes. While that statline may still have been unspectacular, Miller returned to the Energy on a high note.
While Miller would love to remain with Denver next season, he views the D-League as an excellent proving ground for his abilities and only looks to continue improving. “As long as I’m getting minutes and getting better,” Miller added before admitting, “I want to spend more time with the Nuggets next year, though.”
Like the other top prospects in his class Miller understands the amount of hard work that goes into being a successful NBA player. Some enter the league and shine right away, while others have to cut their teeth on other levels to reach that point. As we’ve seen from Miller before, having rehabbed from a torn ACL as a 17-year old to becoming a productive college player, he’s not afraid to do what it takes to get there. Miller noted the widening fan interest across the league but also an improved ability to develop promising young talents like himself. While being an everyday player in the NBA remains his ultimate goal, Miller is willing to do whatever it takes and go wherever he has to go reach it.
Welcome to the Hardwood Paroxysm Mail Bag Round Table Capitalized Compound Word Bonanza!
Thing are happening in the NBA, and there are no better people to answer questions about these things than the HP crew. And there are no better people to ask the questions about these things than you, the fans and readers. Although, sometimes we’re good at making up questions, too. But other times, fans and readers are great. Oh, and reporters. They’re good at asking questions. But DEFINITELY fans and readers (love you guys <3).
Seriously, thanks to everyone who took the time to hit us up on Twitter and Facebook and send in questions.
1) Chris (Facebook): Do you trust this recent trend of NBA teams using the D-League or is it a fad that will go away?
Sean: I think the fact that teams such as the Blazers and Sixers are purchasing D-League teams is going to keep it in the conversation. The real test will come during the next CBA negotiations, when we see if the league and players’ union can come up with a system like baseball’s that allows teams to call up and send down players more freely.
Eric: This is totally dependent on the success of guys that went to the D-League, honed their skills, and came back to the NBA. If teams like the Thunder are going to send Perry Jones III and Jeremy Lamb to the D-League, and they come back and start killing it on the NBA level, then teams may look to emulate the OKC Model in the way front offices of rebuilding teams seek to emulate the Thunder’s approach to building a contender. On the flip side, Luke Harangody threw up a double-double in the D-League playoffs last year, but mostly just made fans want to throw up when they saw him play in the NBA level. No surprise the Cavs finally cut ties with him yesterday. The trend of using the D-League will continue if teams see a benefit; it won’t if they don’t.
Ananth: Thanks for the question Chris! Trust is crucial to any strong relationship but unfortunately not that many NBA teams have developed a strong relationship with their D-League affiliate. I don’t think it is a fad though, it seems like organizations are slowly coming around to building a proper minor league relationship with their D-League team. Boston does a good job with their affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, so does the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Philadelphia 76ers are rumored to being the old Utah Flash D-League team and moving the team to Pennsylvania. Hopefully more teams will join their ranks.
I once sat court side at a D-League game and watched a very raw Byron Mullens, who was playing for the Tulsa 66ers. These kids who were sitting next to me kept heckling him and at one point he took the ball out near us and said something to them which shut them right up. No real point to that story but it always makes me smile.
Jared: I want to trust it, but I don’t. Teams have never really used the D-League correctly before, so I don’t see why it would just start being the case now. Until they make it a full-fledged minor league system and stop docking teams an active roster spot when they send a player down, I don’t think teams will consistently use it the way it should be used.
Noam: I definitely don’t think it’s going away. There’s just been too much success with it – the Warriors having multiple callups make major contributions to the team (and eventually sign elsewhere – Dubs be Dubsin’), and Houston sending virtually every draft pick for seasoning and getting clear cut NBA players in return are two strong examples. It may spread slowly, but it will continue to spread.
ParoxyIntern: It is a fad that will go away. Chris, when was the last time, excluding the one and only Gerald Green, have you witnessed a NBA player make an impact after spending time in the D-League? NBA teams are trying to model the D-League after the Minor Leagues, but there is simply more talented baseball players then basketball players in the world.
2) David (Facebook): Have you seen a major impact from the new flopping rules?
Sean: Sure, there’s been an increase in “_________ is getting fined for that one” tweets in my timeline.
Eric: I don’t know if I would go as far as to say major yet, but it certainly hasn’t hurt matters. It’s hard to say whether flopping is truly down this year compared to previous seasons because no one really tracks that, but I will say it does not appear to be an epidemic like it was five years ago or so. Get back to me at the end of the season.
Ananth: Great question David! I personally have not seen a major impact from the new flopping rules but the fact that it is being discussed among players and coaches is significant. It will take some time to actually make an impact but it is a step in the right direction.
Noam: Not really, and frankly, I doubt we will. Headline-grabbing rule changes tend to disapate once talking heads turn elsewhere (remember the harsher tech rules, or the new synthetic basketball?).
ParoxyIntern: Not really. That is because players will still yell and flop trying to sell the call. That is how they grow up playing. I am 16 and I have played some AAU myself so I know firsthand this flopping technique of selling a call was not learned in the NBA for these players, it was how they were taught. With that being said I do not see much of an impact from the rules.
3) Dan (Facebook) Size up the Bynum acquisition vs. the Bogut acquisition.
Sean: Bogut hasn’t provided close to the comedic value of Bynum’s hair and the bowling thing. Advantage: Philly.
Eric: Awful for both sides, but clearly worse for the Sixers. Bogut is at least under contract for another year so Golden State should, theoretically, be able to salvage something out of the trade. Bynum is a free agent next summer and it is extremely likely that he will never suit up for a single game with the Sixers. Just a dumpster fire of a situation all around.
Ananth: Danny boy, this is a really good question. Both players are 7’0″ feet but Andrew Bynum weighs 285 while Andrew Bogut only weighs 260 pounds.
Jared: I keep going back and forth on this in my head, but I think I like the Bogut acquisition better. When healthy, he’s a top 5 defensive player in the league, and I don’t think you can say the same about Bynum on offense. The Bynum acquisition really changed the entire complexion of the Sixers. They went from being a defense-first share-the-ball team to one that would probably be offense-first and mostly based around getting the ball to one player, and that player hasn’t gotten on the court yet. It’s tough. The Bogut acquisition was really just filling in the last piece of the puzzle. He makes the Warriors roster make sense. He lets Lee do his thing on offense from the high post because Bogut is on the block. He can cover up for the defensive deficiencies of both Lee and Curry, and the stable of shooters Golden State can station around the perimeter is a good fit with his excellent low post passing.
Noam: Oft-injured, offensive cornerstone joins team going nowhere with major offensive issues vs. oft-injured, defensive cornerstone joins team going nowhere with major defensive issues. Pretty darn similar. The difference is, sadly, how oft-injured oft-injured can be. It’s been almost 3 years since Bogut was last an effective offensive player, while Bynum has at least shown short stretches of durability. This topic depresses me. Jrue Holiday! Steph Curry!
ParoxyIntern: They are very similar. Both huge risks. Both out indefinitely. Not a good acquisition for either team NOW, but at the time both looked like great deals for the Sixers and the Warriors. Honestly, I would be more worried to be a Sixers fan at this moment, because Bynum has a longer history of knee injuries then Bogut.
4) David (Facebook) Why is Pablo Prigioni the best? There is no wrong answer here.
Sean: Because he has the same first name as Bob Dylan’s teenage rapping grandson.
Eric: He’s 35 years old so he appeals to the older crowd. He’s a rookie so he appeals to the younger crowd. He runs the pick and roll well in an offense that is shifting away from more than just ISO-Melo. And he’s got a tremendous name.
Jared: ¡Pablocura! He’s pesky.
Noam: HE’S JUST SO HAPPY ABOUT EVERYTHING! It’s almost impossible to find something he doesn’t like. Here, I’ll show you. Pablo, how do you feel about J.R. Smith taking step back 32 footers?
ParoxyIntern: Because he is a 35 year old rookie!
5) Joe (Facebook): OJ mayo coming on strong. Main reason for his resurgence?
Sean: Not having to pretend to be a backup point guard anymore.
Eric: Environmental change? Has there been a player thrown into more Trade Machine scenarios over the past few years other than Pau Gasol and Mayo? He could have been a Pacer two different times but it fell apart in both instances. Maybe all he needed was a change of pace. Whatever it is, it’s paid dividends for the Mavs. He’s finally developed an efficient shooting stroke that’s led to career highs in field goal and three point percentages and his second highest free throw percentage since coming to the NBA.
Ananth: He changed his whole diet in the off-season and it has worked wonders – orange juice and mayo smoothies. Actually, a lot of the credit has to go to Rick Carlise and his system which is allowing Mayo to flourish. Mayo was a stud in high school and had a lot of hype surrounding him when he entered college. He probably will never match that hype but he is a damn good player and it is great to see him develop into a very solid NBA player.
Jared: Unsustainably hot 3-point shooting?
Noam: He’s making 51.2% of his threes. I really want to give him credit for being more aggressive (career high free throw rate, though not by a blowout) and for looking better without Lionel Hollins shackles (isn’t it weird how hit-or-miss Hollins is as a coach? He gets either 300% or 20% from everybody with no in-between), but if he took the same shots and shot his normal 38%-ish fromt three he’s the same guy he’s always been with more opportunities and less depressed glances at his feet.
ParoxyIntern: In Dallas, the guard position is not close to as crowded as it was in Memphis. Memphis had many players who played similar positions to OJ and played similar styles( Rudy Gay, Xavier Henry, and Tony Allen). Currently in Dallas he has no other competition. The fact that Dirk has been out for the whole season so far also makes OJ the number one guy in Dallas which is something he never was in Memphis.
6) @TheDissNBA (Twitter): Is Hasheem Thabeet better than Kendrick Perkins?
Sean: Most people are better than Kendrick Perkins.
Eric: On November 30, 2012, yes. Thabeet has outperformed Perkins in just about every main category (per 36 minutes) like points, rebounds, steals, blocks, field goal percentage, and free throw percentage. Advanced stats are in favor of Thabeet too. Oh, and Thabeet is making $7 million less than Perk this year making him a better front office value as well.
Ananth: It’s funny but this is a valid question due to improvement in Thabeet’s play this season. Basically the only claim to fame Kendrick Perkins has is that the Boston Celtics never lost a playoff series with Perkins in the starting lineup. He is a solid low post defender though and am not sure if Thabeet can match up with some of better centers in the league. It is important to note that Thabeet comes off the bench so plays against second string centers and forwards.Perkins still has the edge over Hasheem “The Dream” but if Thabeet keeps it up he could eventually surpass Perkins, the potential is there.
Jared: Thabeet has all the better individual numbers: points and rebounds and free throws per-36 minutes, FG%, PER, TS%, TRB%, STL%, BLK%, O-Rtg, D-Rtg, WS/48, but he still fouls way too much, can’t stop turning it over (~30% of his possessions) and the team is better with Perkins on the floor than Thabeet (though that has a lot to do with Perk playing with the starters and Thabeet only playing with the bench guys). Basically, I don’t know, and I don’t know if that says more about Thabeet or Perkins.
Noam: ………yes? Oh god, Nenad Krstic was the best player in the Green-Perk trade, wasn’t he?
ParoxyIntern: No. His upside was and still is incredible which is why it is good to have a player like that on your team. But to answer your question, he is not better than Perkins. Perkins is much bigger and stronger which helps on the boards as well as defensively against opposing centers.
7) From my friend Mike via text message: Can you get the HP scientists on how Rashard Lewis shoots with a slomo rotation on every shot?
Ananth: No science involved. It’s an art.
Jared: It’s all in the hips.
Noam: Rashard actually shoots fastmo. It’s just that his time scale is different than ours because he’s a million years old.
ParoxyIntern: He was taught that way in his early childhood and I guess it has worked for him, so props to him.
8) BONUS (from me): What do you think of Pop benching his big dawgs?
Sean: #TeamPop all day.
Eric: Did it suck for the fans? Yeah. Did it suck for TNT and those who worked on it? Absolutely. But did he have every right to do it? Yes. Shockingly, last night turned into one of the more entertaining games of the season. I was pulling for the Spurs all night, if only to get a Pop post-game press conference where he remixed Shaq’s “Tell Me How My Ass Tastes” rap for David Stern.
Ananth: I love it. This was a controversial topic yesterday on Twitter and even David Stern weighed in on the issue. I believe in the Spurs and am all for them extending their season any way possible. In the long run this is just one game in the first month of the regular season.
Jared: I didn’t care at all until all the moralizing that came along with it. Now I care because everyone’s being so high-and-mighty about it and it’s really annoying.
Noam: I was initially mad at him for ruining my TNT Thursday. Then Nando De Yolo and Tiago Splitter played such a fun game that I didn’t care anymore. Pop is hilarious, scrubs playing basketball is fun, and any talk about Substantial Sanctions is ridiculous.
ParoxyIntern: I am confused. I think this is smart to let them rest, but this is not allowed. This is equivalent to tanking a season but in this case it is just a game. I respect Pop as a coach but I hope that David Stern does something about this because if not, it won’t be good for the NBA.