Pelicans Offseason Update: Darius Miller

By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer

Leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, Pelicans.com will provide a player-by-player examination of the New Orleans Pelicans, with input from various sources. We’ll review the 2012-13 campaign of each New Orleans player who appeared in at least half of the team’s games, while also looking ahead to the inaugural 2013-14 Pelicans season. Pelicans.com continues its offseason updates by profiling Darius Miller, the team’s second-round draft pick in 2012 after the steady wing won a national championship with the University of Kentucky:

Darius Miller
Key averages: 2.3 points, 1.5 rebounds

WHAT HAPPENED
Chosen 46th overall in last year’s draft, Miller did not face the same external pressure to immediately produce as 2012 New Orleans lottery picks Anthony Davis (also a University of Kentucky teammate) and Austin Rivers. Unlike Davis and Rivers, who averaged 28.8 and 23.2 minutes as rookies, respectively, Miller did not receive significant playing time during the first half of the season. On New Year’s Eve, the 6-foot-8, 235-pounder was assigned to Iowa of the D-League, where he spent the next four weeks. Rarely an aggressive offensive player, Miller’s numbers in Iowa were not overwhelming (averages of 9.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists), but the stint appeared to help him on the floor when he returned to the Crescent City on Jan. 27. Partly as a result of injuries, the 23-year-old’s impact increased later in the season, particularly during the team’s seven-game homestand March 18-31. Three of his top five scoring games as a rookie occurred over that span. New Orleans went 4-3, defeating Boston, Memphis, Denver and Cleveland.

BEST GAME
A 16-point outburst vs. Denver on March 25, part of New Orleans’ 110-86 rout over the Nuggets, was easily the top individual performance by Miller in 2012-13. By going 6-for-7 from the field, including 4-for-5 from three-point range, it was the only time he cracked double digits in scoring. It was also one of just two instances in which he attempted more than six shots from the field. Miller finished at 39.3 percent on the season from three-point range, second in that category on the team behind Roger Mason (41.5).



FIRST PERSON COACH’S TAKE FAN FEEDBACK
"I feel like we made a lot of big steps as a team. Hopefully we can continue to build on it. I feel like (the uncertainty of my situation individually) was good for me. You have to be prepared every single day. With the experience of going to the D-League, I felt like I learned a lot. I got a lot of experience playing against really good players who are hungry. I got to see the other side of things. I felt like it helped me be able to come back and contribute in a few games." – Darius Miller "He’s a young player and he’s got some skills for sure. Our (assistant) coaches spent a lot of time with him. Darius showed signs that that he can knock down a shot and make plays off the dribble." - Monty Williams Following his D-League stint, what was your assessment of Darius Miller’s play as an NBA rookie in the second half of 2012-13?

@mknkachow: Decent 3-point shooter, good assist rate. Could be solid role player in the future.

@iamkimmieho: Smart basketball player with high IQ, good passer, shoots 3-ball well, I get excited when he gets playing time alongside AD.

@patrickclay10: Showed a knack for the euro step, being able to get to the rim. Has solid court vision and always sets up his teammates 1st.