The Whiteboard: Brandon Miller's jumpshooting, Warriors hit a wall

Today on The Whiteboard, mapping Brandon Miller's development, the Warriors hit the wall and more.

Mar 3, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Charlotte Hornets forward Brandon Miller (24) shoots the ball
Mar 3, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Charlotte Hornets forward Brandon Miller (24) shoots the ball / Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

There have been precious few bright spots for the Charlotte Hornets this season but rookie Brandon Miller has quietly established himself as a rising force on offense, averaging 16.7 points per game. On Sunday night, he had one of his most impressive all-around games of the season, putting up 26 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists on 11-of-21 from the field in a five-point loss to the Raptors.

In this one, Miller demonstrated both the ways his skill set is already allowing him to make an impact and the ways in which he still needs to develop to unlock his star potential.

Brandon Miller needs to be more than a jumpshooter

Right now, the most reliable tool in Miller's offensive toolbox is his jumper and over 35 percent of his shots this season have been catch-and-shoot 3s and he's making a respectable 38.5 percent. He's particularly reliable from the corners and he knocked down a pair of those shots against Toronto.

While Miller has been a mess shooting off the dribble from beyond the arc (32.7 percent), he's very good stepping into open space inside the arc and he's hit 48.4 percent of his pull-up 2s. He looks incredibly smooth and comfortable on these kinds of looks and knows exactly when to leverage the empty space left by a sagging big man.

Where Miller is still developing is making positive plays with the ball in his hands. He drives a lot, especially for someone who has primarily operated as a secondary or tertiary ball-handler — 7.4 drives per game, above the same as D'Angelo Russell or Paul George. However, his effectiveness has left a lot to be desired — he rarely passes, his turnover rate is fairly high and he's shooting just 41.8 percent.

In this game against the Raptors, we saw him make several tough finishes off the bounce.

As well as one of the most impressive live-dribble passes we've seen Miller make all season long with this left-handed shovel through traffic to Grant Williams.

Often, with a young player who has a reliable jumper, you want to see them diversify, to not overly rely on their security blanket — like Jabari Smith Jr. last season with the Rockets. But Miller has already shown the willingness to try the things he's less effective at, to pass up comfortable pull-up jumpers for forays to the rim.

But, when comparing him to the kind of players who are physically similar and represent his hypothetical offensive ceiling, it's clear he needs to improve not just effectiveness and finishing on drives but his ability to pressure the defense with balance.

You can see that relative to pull-ups, Miller drives far more often than these aesthetically similar players. And while he's already in their league as a pull-up shooter he's nowhere near as effective off the bounce.

Miller is relatively old for a rookie and will turn 22 early next season. But his level of effectiveness as a rookie is impressive and he's already showing the kind of growth other similar rookies didn't really tap into until their second season. If he can continue building effectiveness over the next few weeks things should be even easier for him next season as the Hornets get healthy, he has more talent around him and his role becomes more defined.

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Mar 3, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) before the
Mar 3, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) before the / Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

QUICK HITTER: Can the Warriors beat the best teams in the league?

The Warriors' 52-point loss to the Celtics was an ugly blemish on what has otherwise been a bounce-back hot streak. Before this game, the Warriors had been 14-5 going back to Jan. 24 with just one double-digit loss in that span.

However, the loss to the Celtics underscores how easy their schedule had been over that stretch. Of those 19 games, just six came against teams in the top six seeds in either conference and they were just 3-3 in those game with the wins coming against the short-handed 76ers (twice), and the Knicks.

The Warriors are currently sitting at No. 9 in the Western Conference with a 32-28 record. But they're just 10-19 against the top six seeds in each conference, with six double-digit losses. If they really want to make a run at another title, at some point they're going to have to start beating good teams too.

Recommended Reading:

1. With Anthony Edwards, what's old is new again: "Of course, therein lies the joy and thrill and madness. The bank shot, in all its possible forms, feels revitalized in the hands of Edwards. Never mind Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, and Dwyane Wade before him—the pull of Edwards’s magnetism is such that these shots feel new." The Defiant Charm of Anthony Edwards

2. Practice makes perfect: "But what makes Dončić stand apart from other stars, even those who make similarly ridiculous shots on a semi-regular basis, is how he’s turned trick shooting into a legitimate skill and perpetual challenge. He’s always, genuinely always, testing himself with more difficult attempts: higher arcs, unnatural mechanics, longer distances, lower probabilities." The ‘Luka Magic’ you don’t see: Step into Luka Dončić’s trick shot addiction

3. Hyperbole be damned: "But that aside, the Thunder offense is equipped to break defenses, no matter who touches the ball last on a given play. That's both because of their chaotically selfless style of play and their historically accurate jump-shooting, which right now stands as the best in NBA history. And they're doing it using a playbook that fueled Stephen Curry and the 73-win Golden State Warriors." How SGA and the Thunder compare to Stephen Curry and the 73-win Golden State Warriors

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