As Pistons prepare for draft, they just might have a bonus pick in their back pocket: Quincy Miller
If the Pistons could somehow pick up a second first-round pick, down in the teens or the early 20s perhaps, the ideal candidate for a team looking for help on either side of Andre Drummond would be an athletic project who could play either forward spot. A 3-point shooter with plus length and the ability to guard both small forwards and power forwards.
Well, that's Quincy Miller.
The Pistons took a no-risk flyer on Miller when their trade-deadline deals for Reggie Jackson and Tayshaun Prince left them with two open roster spots. They saw enough after two 10-day contracts to sign Miller – a former top-10 recruit who left Baylor after his freshman season – not only for the rest of the regular season but through the summer and training camp.
There's no guarantee of a roster spot beyond that, Miller knows. While he was given some peace of mind by the extended opportunity to make an impression, he's attacking the summer as if his fate rested on every day's workout in the shadow of Stan Van Gundy's office at the Pistons practice facility.
"It's awesome. I'm definitely appreciative for it," Miller said after another day of skills work and weight training. "I thank coach Van Gundy because even now Coach has a lot of faith in me. I've seen coach Stan every day, pretty much. Great feedback from him. He just keeps telling me to stay consistent with my work ethic. He sees the change in my body. He sees the change in my game when he sees me working out, so he's really happy."
It would be hard to miss the change in Miller's body. He's gained about 17 pounds, his arms and chest noticeably thicker, working with strength coach Anthony Harvey. He says he feels the difference even more in his lower body. He thinks the fact he's a little older now, 22, has allowed him to not only add weight but keep it on despite running hard every day, as well.
Miller spent most of formative years playing small forward, though his mobility took a temporary hit with a torn ACL in his senior year of high school that hampered him in his only college season and sent him into the second round in the 2012 draft. After two seasons with Denver, he failed to stick with the Nuggets last season and started over in the D-League. When the Pistons signed him, Van Gundy's first inclination was to try him at power forward. But when he got his chance to play late in the season – the final three games and four of the final eight – it was mostly at small forward after Prince was shut down.
Where he spends the bulk of his minutes in Summer League might depend on whom the Pistons pick in the lottery, but Miller is indifferent.
"I feel it's all about who I can defend," he said. "I can defend the four. I can defend the three, as well. Either way, I'm fine."
Miller would love to stick anywhere in the NBA, but he's especially keen on making it work in Detroit. For starters, he feels his skill set meshes ideally with Drummond and Reggie Jackson's pick-and-roll action as a spot-up shooter who can also put the ball on the floor.
"If you help too much on Dre or Reggie, you've got the three waiting," he said. "I'm a good slasher. I can finish at the basket well. I'm always a threat on the court, just moving around and cutting. And, really, I want to play defense."
In discussing the intensity of his own off-season workouts last week, Drummond mentioned Miller without prompting, saying, "He's going to be a big part of our team."
"It's awesome," Miller said of Drummond's support. "Andre is one of the main keys on this team, so it's great to hear him say that. But I've still got work to do, so I just take it with a grain of salt. I definitely appreciate it, because he's a great friend and a great teammate. But I've still got to keep working. It means nothing until I'm here.
Another reason he'd like his NBA career to set anchor in Detroit: The kinship he feels with the players in his age strata like Drummond, Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Spencer Dinwiddie.
"They're just good guys, just good being around them," he said. "They've got confidence in me, got faith in me. Being around those guys is awesome. I love this group of guys – KCP, Reggie, Dre. It's a great group – an awesome group of guys."