Nuggets forward Quincy Miller seizes opportunity in spotlight

First career NBA start comes one year after long stint in D-League
by Aaron Lopez

In January 2013, Quincy Miller was navigating the snowy roads of Des Moines as a starting forward for the Iowa Energy.

Twelve months later, he was defending NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant in his first career start for the Denver Nuggets in a nationally televised game at Pepsi Center.

“It was awesome,” Miller said. “It was just a great feeling. I was just happy to see the hard work paying off.”

Miller, 21, matched his season high with nine points in Denver’s win over Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night. He started in place of injured forward Wilson Chandler, who is sidelined with a left hip strain.

Though Miller averaged 5.4 minutes in his first 10 appearances this season, Nuggets coach Brian Shaw liked his length against Durant. At 6-foot-10, Miller is agile with the ability to run the floor and contest shots.

Durant finished with 30 points, but he gave Miller some encouraging words on the court.

“K.D. has always called me young fella,” Miller said. “He just said, ‘Good job, young fella. Keep working.’ ”

Miller paid his dues as a rookie last season when he served a seven-week assignment in the NBA Development League. He averaged 11.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in 23 games for the Energy.

“Last January, I was starting in the D-League,” he said. “You just have to keep pushing through anything.”

With Chandler still day-to-day, Miller could get another opportunity to start Saturday against the Orlando Magic.

“I’m proud of him,” Shaw said after Thursday’s game. “He had some shaky moments, but he also had some good plays that he can build his confidence off of. Jokingly, I told (the team) that with Quincy Miller starting at small forward, we’re 1-0 in that era.”