Brandon Miller

Hornets Notes: Miller, Williams, Draft, Lee

After a productive rookie year, Hornets swingman Brandon Miller knows how he’s going to spend his first NBA offseason. “Weight room and eating,” he told Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer, explaining that he wants to get bigger and stronger to better handle the physical nature of the NBA.

“I’m ready to start another season right now,” Miller said. “I think my main focus this summer is to just keep putting on weight. I kind of want to build muscle mass just to be prepared for next season.”

A year ago, the Hornets were debating whether to take Miller or Scoot Henderson with the second overall pick, and the decision came down to the wire as both players made a final trip to Charlotte shortly before draft night. Miller rewarded the organization’s faith in him by appearing in 74 games and averaging 17.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists while shooting 44% from the field and 37.3% from three-point range. He became the sixth player in Hornets history to earn first-team All-Rookie honors.

Miller talked to Boone about wanting to become more of a leader now that he has a full year of NBA experience. He also plans to spend part of the summer working out with Clippers star Paul George, a player to whom Miller has often been compared.

“I think just being on the same court with him,” Miller said, “working out together, I think that’s a blessing, just being there with your favorite player, working with him, getting better, competing with him. So, it’s all going to be fun and a great summer.”

There’s more from Charlotte:

  • Appearing on the TruTV broadcast of Friday’s playoff game, Grant Williams confirmed that Dallas considered sending him to the Bucks at the trade deadline before finalizing a deal with the Hornets, relays Brian Robb of MassLive. “It’s one of those things where we kind of worked our way, figured out what team that would look the best I feel like and Charlotte was the best opportunity,” Williams said. “I think the only other team that probably would have been an option was Milwaukee but that deal kind of fell through. Things happen.” Reporting at the time suggested there were exploratory talks between Dallas and Milwaukee involving Bobby Portis, but those discussions didn’t get serious.
  • After falling to sixth in the draft lottery, the Hornets’ best option is to trade the pick to the highest bidder, Boone contends in a separate story. With an eight-year string of missing the playoffs, Boone believes there’s an urgency to turn around the team’s fortunes right away, which is more likely to happen with a veteran player than a young project. Boone also notes that the franchise is renovating its arena and raising ticket prices, so something has to be done to spark the fans’ interest.
  • The team’s top priority for the summer involves building up a support staff for new head coach Charles Lee and making sure the entire organization is in sync with his philosophies, Boone states in a mailbag column. Boone expects Lee’s coaching staff to be completed fairly quickly, saying it won’t be like when Steve Clifford was brought back and assistants were still being hired after Summer League.
  • With Gordon Hayward and P.J. Washington both being moved at the trade deadline, finding another wing is the biggest positional need this offseason, Boone adds. He said the Hornets believe in positionless basketball, so whoever add sign will likely have the responsibilities of both a shooting guard and small forward.

NBA Announces 2023/24 All-Rookie Teams

The NBA officially unveiled the two All-Rookie teams for the 2023/24 season on Monday (Twitter links). The teams are as follows:

First Team

Second Team

Unsurprisingly, Wembanyama and Holmgren were unanimous selections to the first team (Twitter link). Last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Wembanyama was also the unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year, with Holmgren receiving all but one second-place vote for that award.

The entire first team mirrored the Rookie of the Year balloting, with Miller, Jaquez and Podziemski coming in third through fifth. Lively received the most points for the second team, followed by Thompson, George, Wallace and Jackson.

Jackson is the only All-Rookie member who wasn’t drafted in the first round; he was selected 45th overall in 2023 and initially signed a two-way contract. He was converted to a standard contract in February.

The current youngest player in the NBA, Jackson didn’t start receiving regular minutes until mid-January. The 19-year-old put up some big numbers down the stretch though, including 31 points and 44 points in the final two games of the season.

Jackson beat out Warriors big man Trayce Jackson-Davis for the final spot on the second team by a single point. Jackson actually received fewer overall votes (38 vs. 42 for Jackson-Davis), but earned the nod by receiving five first-team votes, which were worth two points apiece (second-team votes were worth one point each).

A total of 22 rookies received at least one vote. Aside from Jackson-Davis, the other top finishers who didn’t make the cut were Pistons forward Ausar Thompson (35 points), Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson (33), and Wizards wing Bilal Coulibaly (14). Ausar is Amen’s identical twin brother.

All-Rookie was one of the awards that didn’t require players to meet the newly instituted 65-game minimum. Jackson, Lively, Thompson, and Wallace didn’t meet that criteria, but they were still eligible for All-Rookie honors.

Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama Named Rookie Of Year

Spurs big man Victor Wembanyama has unanimously been named the league’s Rookie of the Year, the NBA announced today (via Twitter).

The top pick of the 2023 draft lived up to his billing, averaging 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, a league-high 3.6 blocks and 1.2 steals in 71 games. Wembanyama received all 99 first-place votes for 495 points (Twitter link).

Wembanyama is the first player to have at least 1,500 points, 700 rebounds, 250 assists, 250 blocks and 100 3-pointers made in a season. He is the second rookie to lead all NBA players in blocks per game in a season, joining Manute Bol (1985/86).

Chet Holmgren, who boosted the Thunder to the top seed in the Western Conference, finished second in the voting with Hornets forward Brandon Miller winding up a distant third. Holmgren received all but one of the second-place votes with Miller getting the other. Miller was picked third on 83 ballots.

The Heat’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. finished fourth in the voting and the Warriors’ Brandin Podziemski wound up fifth.

Holmgren, the No. 2 pick of the 2022 draft who missed last season due to a foot injury, appeared in all 82 games. He averaged 16.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 blocks during the regular season.

Miller, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, averaged 17.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 74 games, including 68 starts.

Doncic, Gilgeous-Alexander, Jokic Named MVP Finalists

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Nuggets center Nikola Jokic were revealed on Sunday as the finalists for the Most Valuable Player award, according to the NBA (Twitter link).

Doncic led the league in scoring (33.9 points per game) and finished second in assists (9.8) while also grabbing 9.2 rebounds per contest. Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder to the top seed in the Western Conference by averaging 30.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. Jokic, who is widely considered the favorite to win his third MVP trophy, averaged 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists per night.

The NBA also announced the finalists for six other postseason awards. Here are the finalists for all of those awards:

Most Valuable Player

Sixth Man

Defensive Player of the Year

Most Improved Player

Note: Sengun appeared in just 63 games but was eligible for award consideration based on the season-ending injury exception described in our glossary entry on the 65-game rule.

Coach of the Year

  • Mark Daigneault, Thunder
  • Chris Finch, Timberwolves
  • Jamahl Mosley, Magic

Rookie of the Year

Clutch Player of the Year

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Miller, Heat, Wizards

The Hawks fell to the Bulls in the play-in, failing to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2020 as a result. With a roster that doesn’t fit together even when healthy, Atlanta could look to go in a number of different directions this offseason. The Hawks are stuck in the middle, lacking incentive to tank due to the first-round picks they owe the Spurs as a result of acquiring Dejounte Murray and also having several talented players on the roster.

As The Athletic’s John Hollinger observes, attention will likely turn to star guard Trae Young after trade talks involving Murray didn’t pan out at the deadline this year. Speculation regarding Young’s future continues to run rampant, and teams like the Lakers and Spurs are some of the most frequently named potential destinations.

Additionally, the Hawks will have significant money tied up in the frontcourt to both Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu, prompting Hollinger to wonder whether the team will look to trade one. Atlanta’s most significant impending free agent is Saddiq Bey, who is set to be restricted this summer, but he’ll be recovering from an ACL tear.

Both Hollinger and ESPN’s Bobby Marks assert the Hawks need to pick a lane by making a significant move of some kind, whether that’s moving Young or Murray. Armed with a young core that includes extension-eligible Jalen Johnson, Kobe Bufkin, Okongwu and AJ Griffin, along with potentially two top-16 picks (if Sacramento makes the playoffs), Atlanta has the assets necessary to retool rather than fully rebuild if they so choose.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets rookie Brandon Miller had a terrific first season and while he won’t win the Rookie of the Year award (that honor will almost certainly go Victor Wembanyama), he cemented himself as a franchise cornerstone in just one year, Alex Zietlow of The Charlotte Observer writes. In 74 games, Miller averaged 17.3 points while shooting 44.0% from the field and 37.3% from three. “He can be whatever he wants to be,” teammate Seth Curry said. “I see All-NBA, perennial All-Star, possible MVP consideration in his future. All the talent, all the size, the competitive nature. I think he’s going to work on his game and add stuff every year. So I’m excited to see him grow.
  • The Heat are in the same position on Friday that they were a season ago. They hosted the Bulls in a win-or-go-home play-in tournament game for the eighth seed last season and will do so again this year, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. From Miami’s perspective, the win over Chicago jump-started a historic run that saw the Heat become the first No. 8 seed in a non-lockout season to reach the NBA Finals. However, the Bulls remember last year in a much more painful view, which could be a motivating factor against a Heat team without Jimmy Butler and Terry Rozier. “I remember that plane ride back home [last year] vividly, everybody was just frustrated,” Bulls guard DeMar DeRozan said.
  • Wizards general manager Will Dawkins and president Michael Winger admitted that year one of Washington’s rebuild featured growing pains, but they saw some positive steps within the organization, The Athletic’s Josh Robbins writes. Young players like Deni Avdija, Corey Kispert and Bilal Coulibaly all showed progress from the beginning to the end of the season. “We feel very strongly that we have the right fans, that we have the right principles, that we have the right market to build a sustainably great team,” Winger said. “We set out to do that a year ago. That plan has not changed at all.
  • The Washington Post’s Ava Wallace tackles a similar topic, noting that the Wizards‘ regime is excited to dig into its first full offseason. As Wallace writes, the most significant move the team will make this season could be its head coaching hire.

Injury Notes: Embiid, Sixers, Cavs, Hornets, Rozier

After previously being listed as questionable, reigning MVP Joel Embiid was subsequently ruled out by the Sixers ahead of Sunday’s season finale against Brooklyn, tweets Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports. Embiid’s official injury designation was left knee injury recovery, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

When asked if he expected Embiid to play as long as he didn’t have any issues pregame, head coach Nick Nurse shifted around a bit while saying, “Yeah, same on the (other) questionable guys” (Twitter video link via PHLY Sixers).

De’Anthony Melton (back injury recovery) and KJ Martin (left great toe contusion), the other two players with questionable tags, were later ruled out as well.

In his fifth game back following a torn left meniscus in January, which required surgery, Embiid appeared to tweak the same knee in Friday’s win over Orlando, calling to be subbed out a couple minutes before the first half ended. He returned for the second half and finished the game, but was noticeably grimacing at times.

Sunday’s game has major playoff implications for the 76ers, who currently have the same record as Orlando and Indiana at 46-35 but are the No. 7 seed due to tiebreakers. Still, Embiid’s health outlook is much more critical for the postseason and the future — Philadelphia went just 15-27 without the 30-year-old this season.

Here are a few more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • The Cavaliers, who have secured at least the No. 4 seed in the East and could move as high as No. 2, will be without some of their top players on Sunday, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Donovan Mitchell (knee), Darius Garland (lower back contusion), Caris LeVert (knee soreness), Sam Merrill (neck strain) and Dean Wade (knee sprain) are all out. “It’s not rest,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said prior to tipoff. “Those guys have things they are dealing with that we are trying to protect over the long term. Not guys who are just taking today off. That was the thinking going into it — if we can get them yesterday and today and get out throughout this week, hopefully by Saturday or Sunday, whenever we play, that’s an advantage for us. We will go out and compete our tails off to make sure whatever may happen. So much is out of our control. It’s not a situation where we are going in and saying, ‘We need to do this or do that.’ We don’t control the outcome. So many other teams that have their own plans and own minds that they are trying to make up. We’re going out and trying to compete our tails off and see what happens.”
  • The Cavs are facing the Hornets on Sunday, and Charlotte will also be very undermanned, the team announced (via Twitter). Miles Bridges (right wrist), Brandon Miller (right wrist), Davis Bertans (left Achilles), Nick Richards (right plantar fascia) and Grant Williams (right ankle) were all downgraded from questionable to out, joining four other players who are dealing with long-term injuries.
  • Heat guard Terry Rozier underwent additional testing on his neck injury in recent days, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscriber link). Head coach Erik Spoelstra continues to refer to Rozier as day-to-day, but he’ll miss his fourth straight game on Sunday, leaving his postseason status up in the air. Rozier has been taking anti-inflammatories to deal with the issue, Winderman adds.

Hornets Notes: Miller, Clifford, Coaching Search, Staley

Brandon Miller vs. Scoot Henderson was the most debated topic heading into the draft last June, but their first on-court meeting didn’t happen until Wednesday, writes Shane Connuck of The Charlotte Observer. The Hornets opted for Miller with the No. 2 pick, even though Henderson was the more heralded prospect. Charlotte’s decision has paid off as Miller has been one of this season’s top rookies — averaging 17.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 70 games — while Henderson has taken longer to adjust to the NBA.

“Just to go against each other early in our careers — like, there’s gonna be even more fun in the long run,” Henderson said after the Trail Blazers pulled out a three-point victory at Charlotte. “(Miller) can shoot it really, really well. Off the dribble, catch and shoot. That really stuck out to me.”

Connuck notes that the Hornets hosted both players for individual workouts before making their final decision. They already have a dynamic lead guard in LaMelo Ball, even though he has missed most of the season due to injuries, and were intrigued by Miller’s size and shooting ability.

Miller was equally complimentary of Henderson after their first game.

“He can do a bit of everything, tonight he was knocking down threes,” Miller said. “A big physical guard who can get downhill and finish around the rim and create. I think it’s a good fit for him in Portland because he has pieces around him who can knock down shots. So you know he’s going to have a great career and I look forward to playing against him again.”

There’s more from Charlotte:

  • Miller achieved a shooting feat Friday night that only Stephen Curry has ever matched, per Alex Zietlow of The Charlotte Observer. Miller became just the second player to top 25 points by halftime without missing a shot from the field or the foul line while attempting at least five three-pointers. “You’ve been watching him all year,” coach Steve Clifford said. “He’s a very mature, very poised player. I mean, the things he does, you can’t teach. And it’s interesting watching him: All of the stuff that you want him to do as a team, he’s good at. But then all the things as a coach that you have no say over, he’s good at that too. We function well when he’s out there because the team stuff, he’s great at, and then he’s a talented guy. He’s a great competitor.”
  • Clifford’s decision to accept a front office role is the best move for him and the team, contends Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Boone points out that the Hornets faced an April 30 deadline to notify Clifford if they were planning to extend his contract. Resolving the issue early gives the organization a head start on hiring Clifford’s replacement.
  • At a press conference this week, executive vice president Jeff Peterson talked about the qualities he’s looking for in the team’s next head coach, Boone adds. “A lively energy to come in with a level of excitement to teach these guys,” Peterson said. “As Cliff was saying, it’s a different generation so the ability to teach them and help them retain information is important. (Also) player development. We are still relatively in this youthful phase and at the same time I feel like everyone can be better. I don’t care how old you are or how many years of service you have in this league, you can always find a way to be better.”  
  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe believes the Hornets should consider South Carolina’s Dawn Staley as the NBA’s first female head coach. He states that the Celtics were interested in interviewing Staley during the coaching search that led to the hiring of Ime Udoka.

Victor Wembanyama, Brandon Miller Named Rookies Of The Month

Spurs big man Victor Wembanyama and Hornets forward Brandon Miller have been named the NBA’s Rookies of the Month for a third straight time, the league announced today (via Twitter). The top two picks in the 2023 draft also earned the honor in both January and February.

The Western Conference Rookie of the Month, Wembanyama is now the overwhelming favorite to win this season’s Rookie of the Year award. In 12 games in March, he averaged 23.2 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 3.8 blocks in 31.6 minutes per game, making 47.3% of his field goal attempts.

Miller, the Eastern Conference’s winner, hasn’t received nearly the same level of attention that Wembanyama has in his first professional season, but he has quietly put together a strong debut season in Charlotte. In 14 games in March, he averaged 18.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in 33.4 minutes per contest, with a .362 3PT%.

Last year’s No. 2 overall pick, Miller is a strong candidate to join Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren as Rookie of the Year finalists and looks like a lock for the All-NBA Rookie first team.

Holmgren, Keyonte George, Amen Thompson, and GG Jackson were the other Rookie of the Month nominees in the West, per the NBA (Twitter link), while Jaime Jaquez, Gradey Dick, and Miller’s teammate Vasilije Micic were nominated in the East.

Southeast Notes: Russell, Johnson, Griffin, Gueye, Miller, George

The Magic may take a run at D’Angelo Russell in free agency this summer. The Athletic’s Jovan Buha, who covers the Lakers, has heard that Orlando would be the biggest threat to sign away the combo guard (hat tip to Jesse Cinquini of LakersDaily.com).

“Orlando is the team that — talking to people with the Lakers, talking to people outside the Lakers — Orlando is the team that probably gives them the most concern in terms of a potential suitor,” Buha said.

Russell would give Orlando’s backcourt an offensive boost. He’s averaging 18.1 points and 6.4 assists per game while shooting a career-best 41.9% from deep this season. Russell holds an $18.7MM option on his contract for next season and can become an unrestricted free agent by turning down that option.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks forward Jalen Johnson will return to action on Monday night against the Bulls, The Athletic’s Shams Charania tweets. Johnson, who is averaging 16.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest, has been out since March 18 after suffering an ankle sprain against the Lakers. The Hawks currently hold the final spot for the East’s play-in tournament at No. 10 in the conference.
  • Several other Hawks players still require more time to come back from their injuries, the team’s PR department tweets. AJ Griffin (right high ankle sprain) has progressed to individual basketball activities and will be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days. Mouhamed Gueye (right UCL sprain) has progressed to full contact workouts, while Onyeka Okongwu (left big toe sprain) has resumed individual basketball activities. He will also be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days.
  • Hornets rookie forward Brandon Miller has labeled Clippers forward Paul George the “Greatest Player of All-Time.” Miller got a chance to match up against his idol on Sunday, contributing 22 points, six rebounds and four assists in 40 minutes during Charlotte’s 12-point loss. George paid back Miller with a compliment, according to Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer. “He’s got a ton of game, and a ton of talent and I’m in his corner,” George said. “So can’t wait to see him fully blossom and be one of those guys that carried the league for a long time.”

Victor Wembanyama, Brandon Miller Named Rookies Of The Month

Spurs big man Victor Wembanyama and Hornets wing Brandon Miller have been named the NBA’s Rookies of the Month for February, the league announced (via Twitter). It’s the second straight time both players have won the monthly award for rookies.

Wembanyama, the West’s winner, averaged 21.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists on .474/.413/.831 shooting in 12 games last month (28.9 minutes per contest). The No. 1 overall pick also posted staggering defensive stats in those appearances, averaging 2.0 steals and 3.9 blocks to boost his season-long averages to 1.3 steals and a league-high 3.4 blocks per game.

Miller, the East’s winner, averaged 20.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals on .448/.374/.882 shooting in 13 February games (34.5 minutes). The former Alabama guard/forward was the No. 2 overall pick.

Per the NBA (Twitter link), the other nominees in the West were Utah’s Keyonte George, Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren, and Houston’s Amen Thompson, while Toronto’s Gradey Dick, Miami’s Jaime Jaquez, and Detroit’s Ausar Thompson — Amen’s identical twin brother — were the nominees in the East.