Even die-hard Hornets supporters were dismayed when Brandon Miller was taken second overall in the NBA Draft by Charlotte. Scoot Henderson was the hot selection at No. 2, and they weren’t prepared to listen to the so-called experts who said Miller was a superior fit.
Fans watched Miller in action for the first time Monday night when the Hornets met the Spurs without Victor Wembanyama, and they saw flashes of brilliance from the former Alabama star.
With top choice Wembanyama stating he’d sit out these three games in Sacramento and wait until Vegas Summer League action to make his Spurs debut, last year’s SEC Player of the Year got off to a sluggish start, which helped Charlotte fall into a large hole they never recovered from.
Miller, on the other hand, warmed up in the second half and finished with 18 points, five rebounds, three assists, a block, and a steal, including this extraordinarily impossible reverse layup on the game’s last play.
Brandon Miller IMPOSSIBLE bucket 👀
Miller finishes with 18 PTS, 5 REB, and 3 AST in the California Classic. pic.twitter.com/kymbuGPi3f
— NBA (@NBA) July 4, 2023
His first half was one he’d like to forget, as he finished with just five points, three rebounds, and a not-so-positive six fouls.
Thankfully, in Summer League play, each player is given 10 fouls, or Miller would have been far gone before getting a chance to redeem himself in the third and fourth quarters.
Miller’s confidence returned after the break, as did his shooting touch, as he went 5-for-11 from the field and 3-for-7 from three-point range. At 6-foot-9, his distance range was a big reason he was taken ahead of 6-foot-3 Henderson, who has otherworldly athletic ability but has yet to develop an NBA-ready jumper.
Fellow Hornets draft picks Nick Smith Jr. and Amari Bailey also played, with Smith scoring 12 points, grabbing three rebounds, and dishing out three assists, while Bailey only scored six points but had two steals, one of which led to this highlight jam in the second half.
Steal ➡️ slam for Amari Bailey 😤 pic.twitter.com/XwvsSrYxXA
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 4, 2023
Charlotte and San Antonio will both return to Summer League action on Wednesday, with the Hornets facing the Warriors and the Spurs facing the Lakers.