Rookie Victor Wembanyama will garner most of the attention from the National Basketball Association this season, but Brandon Miller is the rookie to watch.
How is that possible? Furthermore, didn’t Miller find himself in a situation where he provided a weapon that was ultimately used in a fatal shooting by his former teammate Darius Miles? Wembanyama has no off-the-field trouble?
All of those are fair questions, and it is also fair to question how the University of Alabama handled the matter. But last we checked, the public’s opinion amounts to dust. What did officials say?
They said Miller was not the one who committed the crime, he cooperated fully with authorities, and Tuscaloosa County Chief Deputy District Attorney Paula Whitley stated Miller would not face charges as a result of the incident.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way and told those in the public eye who want to continue to criticize Miller despite him not doing anything to be quiet and back off, let’s get back to basketball.
Brandon Miller is not as hyped up as Victor Wembanyama, but he should be the rookie to watch
Wembanyama had a phenomenal career abroad and will be expected to replicate if not enhance his game with the San Antonio Spurs, whose history with international players is well-documented.
Wembanyama’s stats are documented as well. In three World Cup qualifying games in 2022-23 with France’s international team, Wembanyama averaged 20.3 PPG, 10 rebounds, and nearly three blocks per game. As part of the Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 in the 22-23 season, he averaged 21.6 PPG, 10.5 rebounds, and just over three blocks per game. That works.
In contrast, Miller, in Alabama, averaged 18.8 PPG, just over eight rebounds, and over two assists per game in 2022–23. Not exactly the biggest stat-padder as many would want, but to put the Tide on the national basketball stage as opposed to their dominance on the gridiron gives him the credibility to make it to the next level.
So how is Miller the rookie to watch? It’s very simple. Lower expectations. Wembanyama has so much riding on his shoulders. Miller is in Charlotte, a team that has only one major superstar in LaMelo Ball.
Ball and Miller are likely going to be the one-two punch in Charlotte, but the Hornets aren’t expected to make that big of a jump, which is why you need to see Miller. That doesn’t make sense to many, does it? Ok, but how often does anyone watch the Hornets compared to other teams like the Lakers, Celtics, Heat, Nuggets (yes, the defending champs), Warriors, etc.?
The Spurs will certainly get back on the national stage, and the Hornets won’t. But that’s why Miller is the guy to watch. He plays fast, he’s aggressive, and he’s not afraid to drive the basketball.
That works even in this modern era of sharpshooters and long-range shots that flood the Twitterverse. Moreover, when the two rookies faced off in the Summer League, Miller had 16 points and 11 rebounds, with three steals, against the Spurs. That works.
Miller’s brand of basketball and the way he plays warrant attention, provided, of course, he stays out of trouble. Wembanyama will probably have a better long-term career, but this year, Miller is the rookie who bears equal, if not greater, attention.