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NBA Draft 2023: If the Dallas Mavericks move up in the NBA Lottery, Brandon Miller could be ideal

Even if you question his ceiling, he’d help the Mavs immediately.

Brandon Miller is a long wing with an elite shot, and that says a lot by itself. The Dallas Mavericks are barren in the wings department and if they jump into the top four of the NBA Draft in June, Miller might be the ideal player to help answer questions immediately.

Although he and Houston Rockets forward Jabari Smith aren’t as comparable as thought on first blush, the appeal is similar; how many wings hovering around 6’10 are elite shooters, and for that matter how many true two-way wings in the league are there? What could more effortlessly impact winning?

I wouldn’t say I’m all that much lower on Miller than the consensus, but I do gravitate more toward the athletic tools of the other players in his range, and I don’t think he’s close to the prospect Scoot Henderson is. Miller’s skillset is so applicable to the NBA landscape, his floor so high, but when the goal of drafting highly and tanking is to find a player good enough to lead a championship team, is that floor the goal?

If the Mavericks were to move up in draft order, their thought process would be different. If you have the sense of urgency a potentially unhappy superstar entails, maybe you bypass the ceilings and tools and just hit a double. Normally I might be skeptical, but what I’m looking to answer for myself is whether Miller’s worth changing philosophy for.


As stated, Brandon Miller is a 6’9 pure shooter. He has shot versatility — coming off screens, relocating, stepping back. You can question what those shots look like when closely guarded considering what was an abysmal NCAA tournament performance, but a two-way wing/forward who is deadly spacing the floor is still insanely positive on its own.

The pathway to more is there; he’s not Jabari Smith when it comes to being able to create space for himself. He’s more fluid than that, weaponizing small gestures — footwork, one or two jabbing dribbles — to make that space. This craftiness and the addition of more muscle is how Miller might be an elite mid-post scorer a la Brandon Ingram. It’s worth noting that he developed greatly in-season at this. He started out especially poor at the rim, but drastically improved by the end of conference play. His high release point means that it’s possible getting “thrown off his spot” is less of a concern as he gets stronger.

Miller is very well-rounded, a fact that is maybe underreported. He has said that a good pass is his favorite play, and he’s miles ahead of where someone like Ingram or Tatum was as a playmaker at the same age. Despite being skinny, he’s a feisty rebounder. He can’t necessarily keep up with fast guards, but his feet are quick and his length bothersome, and he tries very hard on defense. Miller quite visibly shows interest in the non-scoring parts of basketball — he might set up a move to the rim with the pass already in mind or put ball pressure on an opposing ball-handler at the correct time. Even if he doesn’t evolve on-ball, I cannot imagine a scenario where Miller is talked about as a “losing” player because of some clear weakness opponents could exploit.


While he does share so many traits with great two-way wings of recent vintage, he doesn’t have the burst or verticality many do and it’s rare that players become MVP candidates without pressuring the paint. As his handle improved, he was able to leverage his size more, but there are enough strong forwards in the NBA to combat that and it will be rare that Miller out-athletes another team to impose himself. Again, he’s more fluid than someone like Jabari — he’s not exclusively a four — but we’re talking about the fine line between fringe All-Star and All-NBA.

That lack of elite athleticism also applies to the tightest of spaces, and Miller’s ghastly tournament shooting is alarming. Against the best defenders, will he be able to create efficient jumpers for himself? He was nursing a groin injury, and it’s also a tiny sample size; taking away conclusions from those games is foolish, but weaknesses he’d already exhibited were context for the performance. I’m sure the handle and craft will improve, but I can see a world where the on-ball stuff is more a matter of getting a mismatch or attacking an advantage, with most damage done off-ball.

The off-court stuff is hard to talk about, except to say it is a very concerning data point. He was involved in a situation in which a person was murdered, and we’re not qualified to say more than that. I’m sure NBA teams will know more about the situation than fans will and act accordingly. It is on record that some NBA teams saw it as impressive that he played well after the story broke. It’s an icky take, but I also can’t deny that it might show an on-court resilience which helps him when the stakes are high.

Fit with the Mavericks

The fit with the Mavericks is important to juxtapose against players in his draft range. The Thompson twins are elite, elite athletes who can barely shoot and fit awkwardly with Luka. Cam Whitmore would fit better, but is raw, probably needs the ball early on and didn’t help his college team win. The Mavericks are on a different timeline. Miller could help from the first game.

Even a median outcome for Miller starts to sound like a player the Mavericks need, because every team does. Let’s say I’m right and he doesn’t become an All-NBA player; some combination of Trey Murphy, Dorian Finney-Smith, Andrew Wiggins, and Rashard Lewis is still the exact player you put with Luka.

I can’t lie and say it wouldn’t pain me to pick him above players with what I believe are higher ceilings, but that’s personal draft philosophy and I’m unsurprisingly not planning on life without Luka just yet. If the Mavericks move up to three or four, Miller becomes the best option for the team as constructed.

NBA comparison

There’s a lot of development that makes the difference between a Trey Murphy and a Brandon Ingram, and it’s hard to project that. Still, I think he ends up somewhere in the middle and greatly impacts winning and playoff basketball. He and Andrew Wiggins are drastically different in the sense that Wiggins is an elite athlete, but it feels accurate to say that level of two-way wing is a healthy goal. A better shooter and worse slasher, a longer and less physical player, but still in that fringe All-Star zone whose importance is magnified next to a superstar. It may sound disappointing for a player picked so high, but only a few per-draft are All-Stars. Despite my misgivings, if you know for sure you’re getting such a player, it’s not a bad pick once the tip-top prospects are taken.