Hornets Pleased, Surprised to Land Miller in Round 2
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
July 2, 2012
For many college players, the biggest adjustment of leaving
school and coming to the NBA is that they're no longer
deemed a star. Virtually every NBA draft pick was
ultra-successful in college, but when a prospect enters the
league, he nearly always must accept a smaller role,
leaving his ego on campus.
Fortunately for Kentucky four-year player Darius Miller,
sacrificing personal goals and individual accolades for the
betterment of the team won't be anything new. While many
players consider transferring or leaving school if their
minutes and shot attempts don't increase with each passing
season, Miller actually played considerably less as a
senior than he had as a junior. He wasn't complaining about
the results though - Kentucky won a national championship,
with Miller serving as a sixth-man catalyst.
At least a handful of NBA teams, including the New Orleans
Hornets, recognized the 6-foot-8 forward's contributions by
listing him as a first-round prospect entering the June 28
draft. That's why the Hornets' front office was thrilled to
see the career 37.8 percent three-point shooter still on
the board when they selected at No. 46 overall.
"We didn't expect that," Hornets general manager Dell Demps
said of having the opportunity to pick Miller. "We think
he's a good player. He can shoot the ball. The one thing
about him is that his role in college will be very similar
to the NBA. He's not the superstar. I want to see him fit
in, get into the system."
"We were very fortunate," assistant GM Tim Connelly said.
"I know there were teams who had him on their board in the
"He's a selfless player, very tough, with a maturity that
you generally don't see in college players. He was the glue
guy for the best team in college basketball. He was a
big-shot maker, loves the moment, and has great positional
size. He can play a couple positions and is versatile."
Miller, who is expected to report to New Orleans by next
week - when the Hornets' summer-league team makes its final
preparations to play in Las Vegas - is generally considered
a small forward. However, he has the perimeter range to
move to shooting guard, with the sturdy frame to slide to
"I think he could become a really good spot-up shooter,"
assessed Connelly, who joined NOLA's basketball operations
staff in watching the Wildcats play countless times last
winter and spring. "He can spread the court. He's
surprisingly athletic and is sneaky bouncy. He's a big,
strong guy. He's also very smart and is a great teammate.
What he does surprisingly well is he's able to use his size
and establish his post game. He's just a solid all-around
New Orleans may have also been the most ideal NBA
destination for Miller. Not only is the Crescent City where
Miller capped his four-year college career with a national
championship, but he also will have a familiar teammate in
No. 1 pick Anthony Davis. For many second-round picks, just
making the roster of an established team is a daunting
task, but the Hornets entered July with only six veteran
players under contract.
At this early stage, it's impossible to predict what
Miller's role will be as a rookie, but the Hornets were
impressed with the player's willingness to sacrifice for
the Wildcats. After starting 37 of 38 games as a junior,
Miller was a first-stringer just 11 times in 40 games last
season. He averaged 9.9 points.
"Their goal was to win," Connelly summarized of
star-studded Kentucky. "They had six guys drafted. They
could've all started on almost any team in college
basketball. That really speaks to those guys, Coach (John)
Calipari and the staff down there. They were able to amass
that amount of talent, but maintain the team-first and
winning-first approach. It paid off in team success and
individual success. We talk about it all the time, that if
you win, everybody wins. It clearly didn't hurt Darius (in
terms of his draft stock).
"All of the background (research) we did on Darius was not
good, it was great. To add a guy like that who has that
type of approach was fantastic. And Anthony was just as
excited as anybody. That speaks to what type of teammate