After being selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Brandon Miller is getting his first impressions of the league. After the Charlotte Hornets’ 124-118 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, he’s appeared in six games, averaging 13.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 31.3 minutes per game.
Right now, the 6-foot-9 forward is focused on making his presence felt on defense, whether by taking on the tough assignment or actively making quick and precise defensive rotations in the half-court. Miller earned praise from league observers for his willingness to do the dirty work defensively in the Hornets’ 125-124 victory against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday while using his size, length, and athleticism to do it.
“Defensively, I want to take on the tough assignments, be at the right spots at the right time, really fly around and make plays for my team like I did last night against Indiana,” Miller told DallasBasketball.com before Sunday’s game. “That’s what I’m focused on right now — making an impact on defense.”
When preparing for challenging assignments, whether it’s Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, or really any talented NBA offensive threat, Miller has continued to utilize game film to study his opposition’s tendencies and trusts his veteran teammates’ insights. He remains confident in the process that got him to this point in his career.
“My process is still the same mostly. I have film to help me prepare [for those assignments], so I just study their tendencies and apply it when I’m on the court,” Miller said. “I can also lean on my veteran teammates to help me.”
While there are typically a lot of expectations placed on players to put up big numbers, particularly in the scoring column, Miller continued to convey is complete desire to impact the Hornets on defense while letting offense take care of itself.
“No goals [offensively] right now,” Miller said. “I’m just focused on helping my team defensively right now.”
With it being the start of Miller’s NBA career on a team with plenty of scoring options, he has primarily played in a spot-up role where he makes plays within the game’s flow with potentially a few ball screens or making hustle plays in transition or on the offensive boards. When attacking, he’s focused on not letting himself get sped up.
“I wouldn’t say slow down, just not letting people speed me up,” Miller said. “Getting to my spots how I want to and make a play when I get there. Just continue to play my game without being sped up.”
Miller began his career at Alabama with high expectations as an elite prospect for his class. He credits his time with the program for helping him to grow using the weight room and providing on-court opportunities to grow into his game. It’s a process he’s continuing to emphasize during his rookie campaign.
“I’d say the weight room [has helped me to adjust],” Miller said. “And then with on-court work, I just took every opportunity I could to get better and continue to add to my game.”
Miller has mentioned Paul George as a player he’s studied and admired throughout his basketball journey. When George began his NBA career with the Pacers, he made his mark by being a highly impactful wing defender who improved offensively each season. Surely, Miller would like to follow that path.