Thoughts on Brandon Miller in the Alabama-Gonzaga Game

December 21st, 2022

By Alan Lu

This time around, I decided to take the time to watch Alabama’s freshman forward, Brandon Miller play in a December 17th game against Gonzaga that took place recently.  He is a very talented player that can flat out score the basketball, and he ended up scoring 36 points in his team’s loss to Gonzaga.  In addition, the other standout performers looked to be Jaden Bradley and Drew TImme.  Here are my thoughts on how Miller and other various prospects fared in this game.

Alabama’s freshman forward, Brandon Miller scored 36 points in his team’s loss to Gonzaga.
(Photo:
Alabama Athletics, via On3)

Brandon Miller had a tremendous showing in his team’s loss to Gonzaga.  He’s a very tall, athletic and skilled combo forward that can really score the basketball, and he is a very good shooter that can make shots from all over the floor.  He also has very good length and athleticism, which also allowed him to make some very good defensive plays.  He was fairly turnover prone though, but overall, he put forth a strong performance in this match.

Miller did a great job of knocking down outside shots, especially from beyond the arc.  He can effortlessly knock down threes off the catch and dribble, and he has a lot of range on his shot.  He will move off the ball to get open, and he also can dribble off screens to make three-pointers.  He also showed that he can make dribble, mid-range jumpers with ease.

Plus, he also showed a solid ability to score off the dribble.  He appeared to be most effective at making outside shots when looking to create his own shot, but he also can finish plays using either hand, and he also used a spin move to score on a smooth, turnaround jumper another time.  He also can score on hustle plays, and he was able to throw down a high-flying dunk on the break.  However, Miller will also sometimes overtly force the issue a bit too much, and he would sometimes take tough, contested shots that would lead to misses.

On the downside, he was quite turnover prone in this game.  For the positives, Miller can throw accurate passes off the dribble, and he also can find open teammates on the move when he looks for them.  However, he can sometimes tend to be a ball stopper, and he would sometimes dribble around for too long before getting the ball stolen away from him.  Other times, he would either rush his passes or telegraph them, which would lead them to get intercepted.

Miller also was able to haul in boards on both ends of the floor to help chip in on the glass.  Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, Miller has good length and athleticism that allows him to roam to get steals and blocks in games.  He was able to quickly jump a pass to get a steal, which enabled him to score on a fast break dunk shortly afterwards.  He also showed that he can use his length and positioning to stay in front of his man to contest outside shots, which enabled him to force some misses.  On the downside, sometimes he would be late to rotate and sag too far off his man, which would lead him to give up three-point baskets to the opposition.  Then, he would sometimes over-compensate and play too aggressively out on the perimeter, which would lead him to overpursue or bite on pump fakes, which would then lead him to being out of position and trailing opposing ball handlers on other possessions.

In general, Brandon Miller had a strong showing in this game, and he is a very talented prospect that showed off very good all-around skills, as he particularly thrived as a shooter and scorer in games.  He has the potential to develop into an All-Star at the NBA level, and he could be a very good pick for an NBA team in the top 5 of the 2023 draft.

Other Notes:

Drew Timme scored 29 points to lead Gonzaga to a 100-90 win over Alabama.
(Photo:
Vasha Hunt/Associated Press)

Drew Timme had a dominant showing in his team’s win over Alabama.  He showed why he is one of the best players in college basketball, and he absolutely dominated in the low post to consistently score on the block.  He was absolutely unguardable in the post, and he ended up scoring 29 points, and he also had 10 rebounds and 4 assists in Gonzaga’s victory.  To put it simply, nobody on Alabama’s team could guard Timme in this game, nor seemed like they wanted to.  Alabama’s primary interior defender and defensive anchor, Charles Bediako couldn’t guard him, and no matter who Alabama threw out at Timme, Timme proved himself to be a superb scorer, especially when posting up.

Timme did a great job of scoring in the post.  He is a crafty scorer that has very good footwork, and while he may not be overwhelmingly athletic, his impressive footwork, combined with his strength and scoring touch around the basket makes him really difficult to guard at the collegiate level.    He would often get deep position to score on jump hooks, and he also can use spin moves and subtle footwork to score on crafty, up and under moves.

He also showed a terrific mid-range shot, and he consistently knocked down open shots from that range whenever opponents would leave him open.  He also would occasionally drive to the hoop, and he showed great patience and body control to score around the basket.

Also, Timme showcased satisfactory playmaking skills.  He is an underrated passing big man that would throw timely passes out of the post to find teammates in stride to notch assists.  On the downside, sometimes he would take one too many steps when posting up, or play too forcefully out of the post that would lead him to commit turnovers, but Timme did such a tremendous job as a scorer and passer in this game that it more than washed out the turnovers he committed on offense.

Also, Timme did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  He was able to close out on a corner three-point shot to force a miss, and he also jumped on a deflected pass to help his team get a steal another time.  On the downside, he would sometimes be late on his rotations or get beat quickly off the dribble, which would put his team in compromised situations.

In summary, Drew Timme put forth a superb performance to lead Gonzaga to a win over Alabama.  He proved why he is one of the best players in college basketball.  As for his NBA prospects however, it may be murkier.  He isn’t a great athlete, he likely won’t have the size, strength, or experience advantages that he has at the collegiate level right now, and NBA teams are not running nearly as many post-up plays as college teams do.  Still, it is undeniable that Timme has been really effective and productive at the collegiate level.  At the very least, Timme could be an intriguing pick for an NBA team in the second round of the 2023 draft.

Jaden Bradley is an explosive, speedy point guard that scored 18 points in his team’s loss to Gonzaga, and he showcased his strong ability to score on aggressive drives to the hoop.
(Photo:
Marvin Gentry/USA Today Sports, via Fansided’s Busting Brackets)

Alabama’s freshman point guard, Jaden Bradley had a very good showing in his team’s loss to Gonzaga.  He is a speedy, very athletic point guard that really excelled at scoring on strong, aggressive drives to the hoop, and he has a great first step off the dribble.  He also showed some court sense with the ball in his hands as he was able to make some drive and kick passes and find open shooters, but he also would sometimes play too aggressively, which would lead him to commit offensive fouls when trying to create something off the dribble.  He also played satisfactory defense, and he is an aggressive defender that was able to recover to make an impressive block to prevent an opponent from scoring on a mid-range shot.

Overall, Jaden Bradley played well in this game.  He is a very athletic point guard that may possess a good deal of upside, but he will need to improve his outside shot and play with more patience as a playmaker on offense.  He may be a very underrated prospect, and he could be an intriguing pick for an NBA team in the late first round of the 2023 draft.

Sophomore guard, Nolan Hickman quietly had a solid game for Gonzaga.  He did a good job of making dribble jumpers, especially from the outside, mid-range in particular, and he also excelled as a passer on the break and off the dribble in this game.  He also defended well, as he would show good anticipation skills and positioning to make a variety of plays to help his team on the court.  Overall, he played very well in his role, and he is an agile, skilled playmaker that could end up being an intriguing pick for an NBA team in the second round range on draft day.

Anton Watson also played well in this game.  He showed a knack for making hustle plays on both ends of the floor, was able to throw down a couple of highlight-worthy dunks, made an open three, and he also generally passed and defended well when he was on the court.  Watson showed that he can make patient drive and kick passes, and he generally made good decisions on offense.

Watson did a great job of making plays on the ball and picking off passes to get steals, but sometimes he would struggle to defend opponents off the dribble, especially late in this game.  He will need to show that he can consistently knock down outside shots and defend on the ball, but he is a high-effort, high-motor player that could end up making his way to the NBA someday.

Malachi Smith also had a solid showing in this game.  He is an agile, skilled combo guard that showed off versatile scoring skills.  He thrived as a spot-up shooter off the catch, and he also was able to leverage the threat of his jump shot and use a variety of pump fakes to score on an aggressive drive to the rim.  He also generally defended well, and he was very active and aggressive on the defensive end.  He did a great job of reading the passer’s eyes to pick off passes, he also would poke balls away to get steals and deflections, and he also would contest jump shots to force misses.  He did commit a couple of careless turnovers, but overall, he played well, and he could project to be a 3 and D type of role player in the NBA.

Rasir Bolton struggled to knock down shots, but he played very good defense in his team’s win over Alabama.  He consistently was in good position, which would enable him to get steals and stops when he was on the floor.  He was streaky with his jump shot in this game, but he is an agile, skilled combo guard whose scoring and defensive skills could enable him to compete for a roster spot in the NBA next season.

Alabama’s freshman forward, Noah Clowney had his ups and downs in his team’s loss to Gonzaga.  He is a strong, athletic forward that thrived at scoring on hustle plays, and he will use off-ball movement to score, as he can also finish plays above the rim to do so.  Though he didn’t look to take many outside shots, Clowney also was able to make an open, spot-up three in transition.  He didn’t look to create his own shot very often, but he showed that he can draw free throws when taking the ball hard to the rim.

As a playmaker, he looked to be about average.  He can make touch passes, and he also can push the pace and make drive and kick passes.  However, Clowney didn’t look to be the most fluid ball handler, and he would sometimes get balls poked away from him, as he had some trouble protecting the basketball.

He also did a terrific job of rebounding the basketball.  Defensively, Clowney looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, he is an active defender that will look to challenge shots, and he was able to block a shot when defending in the post due to good timing.  He also ran in to intercept an entry pass to get a steal.  However, sometimes he wouldn’t effectively communicate screens to his teammates, which would lead them to give up open jump shots.  He also tended to sag too far off of shooters, which would lead him to allow them to score on open jumpers.  He also would sometimes play too aggressively and take bad gambles, which would lead him to get beat when defending off the dribble or in the post.

Overall, Noah Clowney didn’t have his best game, but he is a strong, athletic forward whose size, skill set, and upside could make him an intriguing option for NBA teams to consider in the late first to the second round range in the 2023 draft.  He will need to be a more consistent shooter in games, but he could end up being a versatile role player in the NBA.

Julian Strawther had his ups and downs in his team’s win over Alabama.  He generally excelled at scoring off the dribble, and he also showed a deft ability to score on dribble, mid-range jumpers.  However, he struggled to knock down threes, despite being known for his outside shot, and he especially struggled to score on dribble, three-point shots.  He also had trouble defending opponents in one-on-one situations, as he especially had trouble guarding his man off the dribble.  Overall, Strawther will need to be a more consistent player in games, but his size, jump shot, and skill set could enable him to be a second round pick in the 2023 draft.

It was not a particularly great game for Alabama’s sophomore center, Charles Bediako.  Though he did rotate to block a shot defensively and would sporadically get stops when defending mid-range jumpers or in the post, Bediako would often give up deep position and allow scores when defending in the post, especially when matched up against Timme, and Bediako also would sag too far off his man and allow them to score on a slew of mid-range jumpers.

He didn’t look to score very often, but he did show that he can be an effective scorer on rolls to the rim.  Still, Bediako will need to add more muscle and strength to be able to defend opponents better down low, and he will need to pour more concentration and efforts into consistently contesting mid-range jump shots.  He will also need to work on being a more consistent threat to score on rolls to the rim, as he didn’t roll to the hoop nearly enough, and Bediako took two field goals the whole game, though he made both of them.  Overall, Bediako may not be nearly as ready to play in the NBA right now, and he will need more time and seasoning to hone his game at the collegiate level.

This also was my first glimpse of watching Alabama’s new starting point guard, Mark Sears play and see how their backcourt would function together, and I was quite disappointed with how Sears and other guards played in this game. 

Though Sears was able to score on a smooth, crossover step-back three once, he would often miss his threes both off the catch or dribble, and Sears really struggled with his jump shot overall.  He also had trouble finishing plays in traffic, and his lack of size or explosiveness made it difficult for Alabama to generate easy offense when the ball would be in his hands.

He was able to make a couple of nice interior passes to find some teammates, but Sears would also over-dribble and get himself into trouble by committing a slew of careless, ball-handling turnovers.  Overall, Sears didn’t really make a huge impact on this game, and it seems clear that he will need to rely on his outside shot to be an effective player in games on a nightly basis.  After watching this game, he seems to be a low upside prospect, but if he can prove to be a reliable outside shooter and playmaker at Alabama, Sears could end up carving out a decent career as a backup point guard in the NBA, and in a favorable scenario, Sears could end up being a similar player to former Cleveland Cavaliers’ guard, Matthew Dellavedova in the association.

Anyways, those are my thoughts on how Miller and other various prospects fared in this game.  Thanks for reading.  

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