With the arrival of Brian Shaw in the offseason the Nuggets hired a coach with a reputation for player development. After Shaw came out in the pre-season comparing the potential of Quincy Miller to Paul George hopes went up that the 21 year former Baylor Bear could have a bright future in the NBA. So far this season Miller had struggled to gain valuable court time on a deep Nuggets roster, but with an injury to Wilson Chandler - Miller has seen three starts in a row.
Against the Orlando Magic on January 11th Miller logged over 35 minutes and recorded his first double double with 16 points and 11 boards. After the game Brian Shaw made a number of comments on Quincy which I have matched to footage from the game to give a glimpse of what the lanky 6-10 forward may be able to offer as his play continues to develop.
"He's getting an opportunity, he's making the most of it, he's getting more and more confident the more time he gets out there on the floor." -Brian Shaw in his Altitude post-game presser.
During recent interviews Quincy has mentioned he been working hard on his defense. Miller is a good defender who has great length which he uses well on defense, but his light frame can be a disadvantage against bulkier players. Against the Magic his 1-on-1 defense produced mixed results, but his understanding of the scheme Denver is running on defense has improved and he was able to make some great plays as a help defender.
"That's the part of his game tonight that I'm most proud of or happy for him: on the defensive end. In terms of him getting the scheme, being where he was supposed to be and putting himself in position to make those couple of blocks that he was able to make. There were another couple of times where he changed and altered their shots as well." -Shaw post-game on Altitude.
1. In the first play shown in the video below Quincy is defending down low on the weakside. Orlando runs a pick and roll and as J.J. Hickson hedges on Jameer Nelson, Glen Davis is able to roll open to the rim. Nelson delivers the pass but Miller comes across from the weakside and strongly blocks the shot.
2. In the second play Miller is involved in some defending on the ball as the Magic move the ball around. Jameer Nelson is eventually able to penetrate into the paint, Kenneth Faried moves to block the drive and Quincy rotates quickly to 'help the helper' and challenge Faried's man (Tobias Harris) which forces him into a difficult shot that he misses.
Defense to Offense
Due to his ball handling skills Quincy is able to take the ball up-court in transition after a rebound. This can allow for quicker transition offense especially if the primary ball handler is covered, and Quincy chooses to push the ball himself on a number of occasions against the Magic when he saw the opportunity.
"Having that length and having his ability, his versatility, when he does rebound to be able to push the ball out and make plays down at the other end is great for our team." -Shaw
1. In the first play Miller helps to block Nelson on the drive, before his man Andrew Nicholson receives the ball. Nicholson beats Miller with a nice crossover, but Quincy shows the advantage of length as he is able to recover and block the shot from behind. He then grabs the rebound and pushes the ball up-court, before finding Randy Foye for a transition three attempt. Foye is off on the shot, but Quincy is able to get the offensive rebound to give the Nuggets another opportunity. After Faried receives the ball in the post he makes a nice baseline cut from the corner but Faried stares down the receiver and this allows Maurice Harkless to anticipate the pass and tip it away to a teammate and the ball is turned over.
2. On this play Miller almost gets lost going around a couple of players to get to his man Doron Lamb after he receives the ball, but Faried offers enough help to force Lamb to pass off on the drive. Quincy then rebounds the Nelson air-ball and is able to again find Randy Foye in transition for a three which this time he is able to make.
3. Here Quincy is kept busy on defense hustling to keep up with Harkless. Good defense from the Nuggets forces a long jump-shot from Glen Davis that Miller rebounds. He pushes the ball up-court and puts a nice move on Harkless in the post to score quickly down low.
Quincy at the Elbow
During the preseason an offensive area that Brian Shaw mentioned was the elbow or pinch post.
"The pinch or the elbow area, that's a potent spot its hard to come to double team from that spot, and if you have your best player with the ball at that position he can hit any of his four teammates, he can keep the defense occupied. You can shoot, you're in shooting range from that distance as well and you can get to the basket in one dribble. So everything that you need to do is right there at that position, its a potent spot on the floor and that will be an integral part of the system that we run." -Shaw back on July 19th.
While the elbow has been employed on occasion, and all the big men have shot jumpers from this area (especially Darrell Arthur), the elbow area has yet to really become an integral part of the offense. It is likely due to the need to adapt the offense to the current roster that Brain Shaw has not been able to employ this area as much as he might like, but I noticed against the Magic that Quincy was able use the elbow well.
For a player like Miller the elbow area offers a number of advantages. Due to his length he will often has a good jump shot available from this area even if defended, his ball handling offers further options to get to the hoop (and also keeps the defenders honest), and there are usually multiple passing options available from this spot.
1. On the first play of the game the Nuggets tried to run a lob play for Quincy, however Harkless his defender was able to stay with Miller and prevent Foye from making the pass. At this point Quincy cuts back out and receives the ball from Ty Lawson at the elbow. Quincy is now isolated against Harkless and is able to make a nice move into the paint and draw the shooting foul.
2. During their second offensive possession the Nuggets go straight back to Miller at the elbow. Due to his length he is able to get off a jump shot over Harkless but the shot falls short.
3. During the 2nd quarter the elbow area is used again. This time Quincy comes from the right corner past a Faried screen which allows him enough time to turn and shoot before his defender Lamb can recover.
4. In this play from the 4th quarter, Evan Fournier delivers the ball to Quincy at the elbow. Evan then cuts past Quincy ready to receive a handoff. Since Fournier is covered tightly by Lamb, Miller keeps the ball. He turns and uses a shot fake to get a step on Nicholson on a drive to the hoop. Kyle O'Quinn arrives too late, is called for a goal tend on the block and the basket counts.
While Quincy has not been able to crack the regular rotation for the Nuggets yet, he has taken the opportunity recent injuries have given him to show his development while getting some valuable experience in a starting role as he continues to learn the NBA game. Hope remains high that he can continue to build his game and earn a spot as a regular on the court for Denver over the rest of the season and into the future.