The 2023-2024 NBA Season is pretty much a lost one for the Charlotte Hornets, but not quite for Brandon Miller.
Miller has been making the most out of his opportunities with the Hornets, with his performance against the Indiana Pacers offering a glimpse of where he is at so far and what he could become in time.
The outcome of the game may have been decided in the first quarter, but there were tense moments where Charlotte threatened despite never leading in the game. Much of that was thanks to Miller. The drives that led to baskets and free throw attempts, coupled with his ability to create for others directly and indirectly were on display. All of it resulted in a career night that saw the former member of the Alabama Crimson Tide score a career-high 35 points.
Among other things, it’s the 12 free throw attempts (10 made) that stood out. Of course, it won’t happen in every game at this stage, but Miller getting to the line means his aggressiveness is there and he’s not afraid of contact despite having a relatively thin frame.
Against the Los Angeles Lakers the next day, Miller had less free throw attempts (two), but still finished with 33 points in a 124-118 loss. Miller’s efficiency was much better against the Lakers and he was able to sustain his production despite some early foul trouble. As the game went on, Miller settled down and led a fourth-quarter Hornets rally with his 16 points in the final period. In the end, though, Charlotte stumbled and Los Angeles came away with the victory.
The Hornets are clearly on the rebuild, but they’re quite happy with Miller soaking up all the available reps for his long-term development. Miller has drawn comparisons to Paul George and Brandon Ingram, largely because he makes the game look so easy. There’s no doubt he can score in a variety of ways, but the Hornets also want him to grow in other aspects.
The makes and the misses, the fouls and the defensive stops, and the wins and the losses will all contribute to the 21-year old’s development. Each passing game has revealed an improvement and while others may hit a rookie wall, it seems that Miller will be on a learning curve, something that’s more optimistic than crashing out in Year One. Beyond that, though, he’s already made strides as a vocal leader on the court for Charlotte.
Yes, Miller’s technically a rookie, but in a Hornets roster that’s technically more Gen Z than Millennial, much may be asked of him. Understanding Charlotte head coach Steve Clifford’s system now means he’ll have to direct teammates and hold them accountable for missed assignments. It’s something usually done by veterans, but it’s safe to say he’s delivered on that aspect.
Learning to lead comes with time, and in an 82-game regular season, he’ll have quite a lot of time to understand what it takes to keep teammates young and old engaged. Sometimes, it may mean leading by example and given his body of work in 40 or so games, Miller is capable of doing that.
Brandon Miller’s rookie season may have been overshadowed by the likes of Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren, but he made quite the impression on the Charlotte Hornets, who were happy to select him after Wembanyama.
Indications are looking as if Miller has gotten better from the jump, but given his scoring abilities and the intangibles he can offer as a young leader, the Hornets’ path to postseason contention may very well run through Miller (and of course, LaMelo Ball).