After four years at Holy Cross College in Massachusetts, one G League season with the Maine Red Claws, and one season playing for Alba Berlin in Germany, Malcolm Miller eventually signed a contract with the Toronto Raptors in 2017 to become their first ever two-way signee.
The 6-foot-7, 210-pound combo-forward has the makings of a modern versatile 3-and-D wing with his above-average length (7-foot wingspan and 11-foot-11 max vertical touch), athleticism, and outside shooting. However, at 26 years old, Miller is older than most NBA prospects and is still unproven at the professional level. Miller’s $1.6 million contract with the Raptors becomes fully guaranteed on July 24th, meaning the Raptors have less than two weeks to decide if they want to pick up his contract or waive him.
The 2018-19 season saw Miller split time between the Raptors 905 of the G League and the Toronto Raptors. After injuring his right shoulder in last year’s Summer League, Miller joined the 905 midway through the season and didn’t land a roster spot with the Raptors until just before the trade deadline.
In 13 games with the 905 last season, Miller averaged 27.5 minutes per game with 10.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.5 assists. Miller was a secondary-option in the 905 offense after joining the team midway through the season, shooting just 8.4 field goal attempts per game on 45 percent shooting with more than half of his attempts coming from behind the arc where he shot 35 percent. Still, Miller provided spacing as G League defenders respected his shot (Miller shot 38.4 percent from behind the arc in three G League seasons) and showcased his versatile defense where he is quick enough to defend the perimeter and big enough to defend inside. He is also a very smart help-defender and his constant communication on that end of the floor demonstrates he cares. Last season, due to the 905’s lack of frontcourt depth, Miller played received a lot of minutes at power forward where he battled bigger and stronger players and proved he was up for the task.
Miller’s time with the Raptors last season was mostly made up of garbage-time minutes due to the Raptors incredible wing depth. In 10 games with the Raptors, he averaged just 6.7 minutes but knocked down 10 of 21 three-point attempts while defending the perimeter and proving he can switch 1 through 5 in the NBA.
The highlight of Miller’s season came in the dying minutes of game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal between the Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers where head coach Nick Nurse, frustrated by the effort his starters were giving, ended the game with a bench group featuring Miller as the small-ball 5. Miller displayed his defensive versatility, decisiveness, and range.
Miller will have one final chance to prove himself to Raptors brass in Las Vegas Summer League before his contract becomes guaranteed on July 24th. It is clear the Miller has an NBA-ready body and the foot speed and defensive awareness to survive in the league as a 3-and-D wing. However, if he wants to be a part of the Raptors rotation next season (which the Raptors would like given how much time they have put into his development), Miller will have to be more aggressive in searching for his shots and decisive on offense with the ball in his hand. Also, as my colleague Adam McQueen writes, “[he must] prove that he is not just a quality defender, but a lock-down perimeter guy at the lower level.” He did all those things against the New York Knicks in the Raptors third game of Summer League game Tuesday night, scoring 19 points and 8 rebounds while playing outstanding defense, staying in front of his man and helping his teammates with strong rotations.
— NBA G League (@nbagleague) July 10, 2019
If Miller can continue to play a well-rounded versatile game and become closer to a 40 percent three-point shooter, he will not only become a regular Raptors contributor but could earn a big payday next summer when he projects to be a free agent.
Miller is a darling of NBA Twitter because he has the potential to be an elite 3-and-D wing, the most coveted type of player in the modern NBA. He can shoot the three, defend multiple positions, and theoretically play up and down the lineup. The problem is that Miller is already 26 and a bevy of untimely injuries have harmed his ability to put it all together. Fortunately for him, the Raptors are likely entering a youth movement and will give their prospects every chance to prove themselves.
Miller is already an NBA champion but still has to prove he is an NBA contributor.