The San Antonio Spurs had a horrific season, finishing 22-60, dead last in the Western Conference. The good news is the Spurs' draft pick will now be high in the 2023 NBA Draft. If the ping pong balls of the NBA Draft Lottery leave the Spurs at the No. 3 spot — where their 2022-23 record dictates — the team must target Alabama forward Brandon Miller. Here is why.
The Spurs need to take Brandon Miller at No. 3 in the 2023 NBA Draft
Ending up with the No. 3 pick after the NBA Draft Lottery is an unusually tough pill to swallow in 2023. That’s because this NBA draft has two potential franchise-changing players at the top in 7-foot-5 French sensation Victor Wembanyama and G League point guard Scoot Henderson.
Now, this has happened before, and the two franchise-changers aren’t always so franchise-changing. Zion Williams and Ja Morant (2019), Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker (2014), Greg Oden and Kevin Durant (2007), and Kwame Brown and Tyson Chandler (2001) were all much0heralded 1-2 picks.
However, usually one works out much better than the other. And often, the third picks in those drafts are real values. With the drafts above, the No. 3 picks were RJ Barrett, Joel Embiid, Al Horford, and Pau Gasol.
The third overall pick has traditionally been a great spot, too. In addition to the names above, Luka Doncic, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, LaMelo Ball, Bradley Beal, James Harden, Deron Williams, Carmelo Anthony, Baron Davis, Chauncey Billups, Jerry Stackhouse, Grant Hill, Penny Hardaway, Dominique Wilkins, Kevin McHale, and, oh yeah, Michael Jordan were all picked at three.
This phenomenon happens because after all the hype and the gambling on the greatness of the top two picks, the player who may not be as exciting but is one of the best in the draft is left at No. 3.
In the 2023 NBA Draft, this player is Alabama’s Brandon Miller.
Wembanyama may be a true unicorn. A 7-foot-5 Kevin Durant. But he’s been playing on obscure French teams for the last few years, and we have no idea about how his game will translate to the NBA.
Same with Henderson in the G League. There are good players he’s playing against, but we’ve yet to see a G League Ignite player come into the league and make an immediate impact. Jalen Green has been good on a glorified G League Houston Rockets team, and Jonathan Kuminga hasn’t broken through yet either.
Brandon Miller dominated in the SEC and had his moments in the NCAA Tournament. We know what that means and how it translates heading into the NBA.
Miller also has a body that we know will work at the next level. He is 6-foot-9, 200 pounds, and moves effortlessly around the court. Miller can score (18.8 points per game) and create for others (2.1 assists), which are valuable NBA skills. His playmaking is especially intriguing. Miller is an unselfish player, and his assist numbers could improve dramatically with NBA finishers around him.
As for his specific fit with the Spurs, a wing group of Miller, Devin Vassel, and Keldon Johnson is the bones of a nice team. Add a point guard (whether that’s Tre Jones or not) and a center to the mix, and you have a serious starting five. With last year’s first-round pick Jeremy Sochan in the mix as well, taking Brandon Miller in the 2023 NBA Draft would give the team an excellent young core.
Miller also has the potential to be an excellent NBA defender. If his scoring can translate from college and he picks up the defense, the Spurs are looking at a Paul George-like player to build their franchise around. That’s not bad at the No. 3 pick in what many experts talk about as a two-man draft.
The biggest downside with Miller is off the court. He was involved in that tragic murder at Alabama this season, and there are some character concerns. It now does seem like his involvement was minimal and unintentional, so as long as the Spurs are comfortable with that, he should be the pick.
All Spurs fans will be close to a TV or staring at their phones on Tuesday, May 16 at 8:00 pm ET as the NBA Draft Lottery ping pong balls start swirling around. And most, if not all of these fans, will be willing the Spurs number to come up with the top pick.
However, as history has shown — and with how Brandon Miller took the college basketball worked by storm last season — be careful what you wish for. The third pick in an NBA draft is sometimes a blessing in disguise and gets a team a franchise player they may not have expected.