2019-20 Player Review: Malcolm Miller

6 mins read
1
GETTY IMAGES

I remain confident that Malcolm Miller will one day be a successful NBA rotation player. Just not in Toronto.

With news that Toronto did not extend a qualifying offer to Miller broken by Blake Murphy on Thursday, it seems clear that Miller will not continue his NBA career in Toronto.

It’s been a long run. Miller started his career in the NBA G League with the Maine Red Claws before heading to Germany to play with Alba Berlin. Because of his strong jumper and defensive versatility, Toronto signed Miller to the team’s first-ever two-way contract. He played few minutes, but he showed promise while shooting 38.1 percent from deep. It seemed like he was due for a full NBA contract the upcoming year, but due to a shoulder injury, Miller spent the following year instead rehabbing with the Raptors 905. That full NBA contract finally came last year, in 2019-20.

Miller had some impressive moments this year. He shot four-of-five in a monster win over the New York Knicks early in the year. He was a huge part of Toronto’s franchise-record comeback win over the Dallas Mavericks in December, going plus-29 in 17 minutes of game time. He scored 10 points in Toronto’s season-closing win over the Denver Nuggets, playing 27 minutes, dishing three assists, and hitting a pair of triples. All the way through, Miller had solid if unspectacular defense. He didn’t average high numbers in the box score — even though his steal rate of 2.0 percent was quite good — but he always limited his man.

But Miller didn’t add much to his game beyond the shooting and the defense. His creation and passing abilities are nascent, and his three-point shooting percentage actually dropped to 36.4 percent.

Regardless, there’s much to like about his game. His form looks amazing, and the numbers actually back that up, with him having shot 40.6 percent from deep over his NBA career. As a result, he actually has helped drive winning; Toronto was 11.1 points per 100 possession better with him on the court this year, garbage time excluded. He never played too much time alongside Toronto’s real lineups, but in the 39 minutes he played alongside Kyle Lowry, the Raptors outscored opponents by 33 minutes. The ultra-hustle lineup of Lowry, Miller, Terence Davis, Chris Boucher, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson played the lion’s share of the Lowry-Miller minutes, and they wrecked opponents. The Raptors have been successful when Miller’s had a shot at the floor, even if Miller himself hasn’t statistically produced.

He’s long been a valuable locker room presence and great teammate for a long time. He’s been genuinely happy for his teammates’ successes. And as the Raptors became leaders during the bubble about making their play stand for something larger than basketball, Miller wrote a genuinely moving and significant article enunciating the why of the player movement.

He’s long been a valuable locker room presence and great teammate for a long time. He’s been genuinely happy for his teammates’ successes. And as the Raptors became leaders during the bubble about making their play stand for something larger than basketball, Miller wrote a genuinely moving and significant article enunciating the why of the player movement.

The point is that Miller has served a valuable role on this team for some time, and he’s played well at times when given a shot. But that’s never transitioned to him earning minutes. And for all Miller’s off-court value, a basketball team has to use roster spots to prioritize on-court value. Miller has had three years under the umbrella of the organization, and he is the much the same player he was three years ago. At 28 years old, it’s unlikely that will change. And though he offers value, the Raptors are incredibly deep with plenty of talent at the wing position. If Miller hasn’t broken through at this point, he probably won’t.

And so the Raptors have cut bait and run. Miller hasn’t received a qualifying offer, which means he will almost certainly not play for the Raptors anymore. He is an NBA player, and there are plenty of teams that could use his services. Players who knock down triples and play malleable defense have roles in the NBA; just look at three-time champion Danny Green. To that point, Miller is a champion. That will never change.

Ultimately, his time with the Raptors has been overwhelmingly positive, even if seems to be at a mutual end.

 

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.