Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Quincy Miller has the tools teams look for in a young prospect. Size. Length. Athleticism. Coordination. You name it. He is a prototypical NBA wing in the making with the intangibles that mirror those of the two-way players teams salivate over. While Miller failed to put it all together in his first two seasons in the NBA, he now finds himself taking a pitstop in the D-League in an attempt to prove himself worthy of a second chance. As a member of the Reno Bighorns, he couldn’t be in a better situation to tap into his potential.
Coming out of high school, few players were as highly touted as Miller. He was ranked as the fourth best prospect in the 2011 class, one that was headlined by a trio of young stars in Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. But in a matter of months, Miller saw his stock fall dramatically. He tore his ACL in his senior year in high school, leading to an underwhelming freshman season at Baylor. He declared for the draft, fell to the second round, and got lost in the Denver Nuggets’ deep rotation as a rookie.
In his second season, things started to perk up for Miller. He saw his opportunities increase with key members of the roster succumbing to injury and he showcased his potential on a number of occasions. He even had the backing of his head coach, Brian Shaw, who was tantalised by Miller’s raw skills to the point where he saw similarities between the young forward and a blossoming Paul George. However, Miller failed to string together strong performances on a consistent basis, and his non-guaranteed contract made him vulnerable to a roster cut. With the NBA roster deadline creeping up on them in the offseason, the Nuggets attempted to trade Miller elsewhere, but to no avail. Once Alonzo Gee agreed to a training camp invite, Miller’s days in Denver seemed numbered. Sure enough, at the eleventh hour, they cut ties with him.
While the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Indiana Pacers all showed interest in bringing Miller on board, nothing came to fruition. That led him to the D-League, where the Reno Bighorns snatched him up out of the player pool.
The jury is still out on whether or not The System has a home in the NBA but there’s no denying that it provides players with an opportunity to showcase their offensive potential. For Miller, who has already dipped his toes in the murky NBA waters, that’s just what he needs at this point in his career — an opportunity to refine his game in a setting that pushes him to become a dynamic scorer.
Through Miller’s first five games with the Bighorns, that has led to some sparkling results: 28.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 2.0 blocks per game. He has knocked down a total of 18 three-pointers, making them down at a 46.2 percent clip. The rest of his offense has come at the rim, where he’s used his athleticism and length to finish over the defense.
It hasn’t taken long for Miller to catapult up the Prospect Watch, leapfrogging Seth Curry as the top prospect in the D-League. With 10-day contract season fast approaching, he could see an opportunity to return to the big leagues come his way sooner rather than later. He’s a familiar name in NBA circles, and it wasn’t long ago that he was garnering big minutes for the Denver Nuggets. He is finally healthy after suffering an ACL tear that set him back a number of years, and the Bighorns are giving him an opportunity to prove that he is finally rounding into the prospect that made him such a hot commodity coming out of high school.
Miller’s first two years in the NBA were a teaser of what could be. Perfectly put: He was a “jack-of-all-trade and master of none.” With his newfound confidence, however, he’ll be looking to parlay that into a second opportunity to prove himself in the NBA.
Miller seems much better prepared this time around.