Pelicans.com Give-and-Go: Darius Miller
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
We caught up with New Orleans Pelicans small forward Darius Miller at Thursday’s community event at Rock N Bowl in the Carrollton neighborhood of the city. Miller was joined by fellow New Orleans reserve wing Terrel Harris at a local Make-A-Wish charity fundraiser, held at the iconic bowling alley. The 6-foot-7 NBA rookie’s playing time increased over the course of 2012-13, after he spent a month-plus in the D-League in December and January. Miller took a few minutes’ break from bowling against Harris to answer Pelicans.com’s questions and those of numerous fans who submitted queries via Twitter over the previous 48 hours.
Various Pelicans players have been in New Orleans since the season ended in order to work out together at the Alario Center. How have those workouts been going and what are you focusing on individually now?
Miller: The workouts have been going very well. As far as me individually, I’ve been working on kind of changing my body, being consistent with my shot. It’s been a little bit of everything, really. Ballhandling too.
How cool is it to have this many guys already here preparing for the season?
Miller: It’s been a lot of fun for us. We’re getting to know each other even more and becoming closer (off the court). We’re just trying to build off what we were able to do last season. All of us really have the same goal, to get better as a team and individually.
Looking back on your rookie year, what part of the experience do you think will most help you entering your second NBA season?
Miller: Probably this time right now in the summer, getting a chance to work with all of the older guys, the players who have been here and learning from them. Also, getting the chance to play a little bit during last season, getting that (game) experience. Those are the two main things that I think will help me out.
In what specific aspects of the game did you feel you either outperformed or underperformed your own expectations? For example, you had a better NBA three-point percentage than in college.
Miller: I feel like there are a lot of things I could have done better, obviously. As far as my three-point shot, I feel like I could’ve done better, honestly. There were a lot of opportunities that I missed. I feel like I wasn’t as consistent as I should’ve been throughout the whole season. Hopefully that does get better.
How much have the team’s coaches discussed a need for you to be more aggressive offensively or to look for your shot more? People often praise your team-first attitude and approach, but were you too unselfish at times as a rookie? (Editor’s note: Miller had one of the lowest usage and free-throw attempt rates in the entire NBA last season).
Miller: Yes, we’ve talked about it. There were times last season I had opportunities that I really didn’t take advantage of. The coaches talked to me. Obviously, you don’t want to be selfish or anything like that, but I need to be in more of an attack mode at times.
On to questions from fans via Twitter. From @Jeff_Rhodes: What aspect of your game did you work on most to help you carve out that niche we saw you fill at the end of the season?
Miller: I think it came with getting experience, getting a chance to play with the guys and see what the coaches expect from all of us. I think that was the key part, and continuing to work. I felt like we kept working as a team. That helped me out a lot.
From @KingJewels: Were you disappointed you weren’t in NBA2K?
Miller: [laughs] No. Actually, I wasn’t on it at first, but when they updated it I was on it. But no, I wasn’t disappointed. [smiles]
Did they just not include second-round picks, maybe?
Miller: Yeah, that may have been (the reason for the initial exclusion).
A follow-up from @KingJewels: What must you work on to have a breakout year?
Miller: Changing my body a little bit more. It’s such a long season that demands so much from you every day. And like I said earlier, becoming more consistent, attacking and making shots.
From @chekiri: How do you think the squad is going to improve moving forward?
Miller: I think the team is going to get better and better. Like you said, with this many guys working out here this early, it’s easy to see that everyone is on the same page and on the right path. If that continues, I think it can be a great team.
From @hornetsfan202: What’s your favorite thing about New Orleans?
Miller: I like a lot about it, including the whole culture, the food, my team. I have really enjoyed the experience of being in New Orleans so far.
From @iamKimmieHo: What’s your favorite New Orleans dish and what do you like to do for fun in New Orleans?
Miller: The first thing that comes to mind when I think of New Orleans food is gumbo. I’d have to go with that. For fun, my favorite thing to do besides playing basketball is watching movies.
From @nikhilasaurus: How have you and Anthony Davis’ lifestyle changed after your first year in the NBA?
Miller: There haven’t been a lot of changes. I think it’s mostly about knowing what we have to do as far as eating right and stuff like that. In college you kind of just eat whatever, but in the NBA you have to change your diet. You also have to manage your time. At this point, we’re on our own as far as getting better as players. Part of it is really just about becoming a man.
How important is it to you to try to just maintain the focus on doing some of the same things that made you successful earlier in your basketball career, including at Kentucky?
Miller: Me personally, I definitely do that. You should always stick with what got you here and just try to improve and get better at that. I don’t think you should get to this level and then try to change who you are. I personally don’t think that would work out too well.
Lastly, speaking of Kentucky, you wore uniform No. 1 in college and your Twitter account is still @uknum1. Do you have any plans to try to get back that jersey number in the future in the NBA?
Miller: [smiles] Nah. I just haven’t changed my Twitter name since college. I don’t have a computer, and I can’t do it on my phone, so I just haven’t done it. But I’m not going to change my number. That’s something that really doesn’t matter to me at all.