Deep Thoughts: Quincy Miller

Disclaimer: I started writing this series because I couldn’t find enough content relevant to my favorite league, which is a 20 team dynasty. Each week I’ll focus on one or two young, high upside players who are currently owned in less than one percent of ESPN leagues. While some may break out this season, most will need a little more time, and I’m sure I’ll have my share of whiffs as well.

Quincy Miller–SF/PF Sacramento Kings; 0% owned

Quincy Miller is a freak. The 22-year-old King stands 6’10’’ with 7’1’’ wingspan and flashes a rare combination of skill and athleticism for a player his size. Those physical tools made him one of the top ten high school recruits in the country—a prototype for the new breed of pace-and-space forwards who can spot up, handle the ball, finish above the rim, run the floor, and defend.

Quincy MillerMiller tore his ACL and missed his senior season of high school, but he bounced back to start 35 games for Baylor as a freshman. He was somewhat overshadowed in that front court by senior Quincy Acy and sophomore Perry Jones, but his performance[1] was good enough to capture the Big 12 Freshman of the Year award. Apparently NBA scouts were not overly impressed, as he fell to Denver at pick 38. As a rookie he struggled to crack into a deep Nuggets rotation featuring Corey Brewer, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, and Kenneth Faried, but earned some playing time last season, averaging 15.4 minutes over 52 games (including 16 starts). He received high praise from coach Brian Shaw, and while his per 36 numbers—11.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.5 assists, and 1.4 threes—weren’t mind-blowing, they hinted at valuable across-the-board fantasy production. However, Shaw’s praise was not enough to keep Miller employed, as the Nuggets waived him in late October. He soon signed with the Reno Bighorns (the Kings’ NBDL affiliate) and promptly exploded[2], averaging 32.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.9 steals, 4.6 blocks, and 2.9 threes per 36 minutes.

Of course (as with everyone I’ll be writing about) Miller has his warts. The biggest of them so far has been shooting. His career percentages (36.2% from the field, 31.3% from three, and 71.2% from the line) are unacceptable both for fantasy and real life, and unless he can drag them up all of this will be irrelevant. I suspect he can. Most draftniks (e.g. Chad Ford of ESPN and Mike Schmitz of DraftExpress) expected Miller to develop into a solid shooter, and while his first two seasons weren’t great, he’s hardly the first prospect to struggle with his shot. No 22-year-old with his caliber of talent should be written off based on his first 800 minutes. Furthermore, Miller has shot well in the D League this year, where he’s gone 52.2% from the field, 35.6% from three, and 89.5% from the line. Of course, the truth is probably somewhere between those two, but I’m willing to bet that the latter set is more indicative of his true talent.

After just 14 games with Reno, Miller signed a 10-day contract with the Sacramento Kings. Rudy Gay’s ejection Friday gave the youngster his first chance at extended run, and he didn’t disappoint. In 34 minutes, Miller scored 13 points, pulled down 6 rebounds, picked up 2 steals, blocked 2 shots, and hit 1 three. He shot 3 of 8 from the field and 6 of 7 from the line. That kind of well-rounded performance is exactly what makes him worth a deep league flier.

So what can we expect going forward? Obviously Miller isn’t going to displace Gay any time soon, but I’m intrigued by the possibility of those two playing alongside each other, whether it be as the forwards in small ball lineups or on the wings when Ty Corbin wants to get more size on the floor. The former seems in line with Vivek Ranadive’s desire to turn the Kings into an up-tempo space-and-pace team, and Miller’s skill and mobility would make him a matchup nightmare for traditional power forwards. Of course, this alignment would be matchup dependent—only a true sadist would want to watch Zach Randolph post him up—but Jason Thompson and Carl Landry are scrubs and won’t be getting any love from me. Perhaps even more interesting would be to put him at the three with Gay playing the two, allowing their length and athleticism to wreak havoc on defense. While that would put more pressure on Miller to space the floor, it’s not as though Ben McLemore and Nik Stauskas have been lighting the world on fire. McLemore’s made major strides this year, but that’s really just damning with faint praise, and Stauskas looks ready to join Jimmer Fredette at a YMCA near you. Oh, and Klay Thompson just hung 52 on them in three quarters. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice. Now, I don’t expect Ty Corbin to be creative enough to try any of these lineups, neither can I say with any degree of certainty that they would work, but the Kings are going nowhere fast and they’re owned by Vivek Ranadive for better or worse.

Miller still has a ton of development left. His percentages suggest poor shot selection, he needs to improve as both a three-point shooter and a finisher, and his impressive steals and blocks are partly products of over-aggression, which can sometimes get him burned. The good news is that those concerns are common among young players and should subside as he gains strength and experience. I think (given minutes) his ceiling could be somewhere between Giannis Antetokounmpo and fellow D League alum Robert Covington. His length and athleticism would give him a chance to average a “triple 1” along with 15 points, 8 boards, and average percentages. That’s the ceiling. The floor is Anthony Randolph. Obviously that’s a huge discrepancy, but the fact that he’s virtually unowned means you shouldn’t have to pay too much to scratch the lottery ticket. For anyone still holding on to a Rasual Butler/Luc Richard Mbah a Moute type—particularly in dynasty leagues—I would strongly suggest taking a look at Quincy Miller.

 

[1] Miller’s numbers at Baylor 24.4 minutes per game, 10.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, .6 steals, .7 blocks, 44.9% from the field, 34.8% from three, and 81.6% from the line.

[2] Full disclosure: The Bighorns play at an obscenely high pace, inflating these numbers somewhat

 

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