Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Bama Big-League Ballers, NBA Week 3: Brandon Miller is in a shooting slump

CW Archive
Former Alabama basketball player Brandon Miller (#24) protecting the ball against Georgia on Feb. 18 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The NBA regular season is moving out of its early stages and getting into full swing, an evolution marked by the new and unique NBA Cup. With each passing week, team and player identities continue to solidify. 

Within the collection of players who once donned the Alabama crimson and white, this identity ranges from scrappy G League hopefuls to growing prospective stars to All-NBA-level defensive studs.  

Perhaps the most notable narrative of identity among former members of the Crimson Tide is the up-and-down start for Brandon Miller. The bona fide star of Alabama’s 2022 run as the top seed in the NCAA Tournament has been middling in his first eight games in the NBA. While he has shown flashes of the brilliance that led the Crimson Tide last year and that got him drafted so highly, he is undeniably still in the developmental stage and will remain there for the foreseeable future. 

Last week saw Miller play in four games for the Charlotte Hornets, where he averaged 10.5 points per game, 1.5 assists and three rebounds on abysmal splits of 37% from the field and 7% from 3.  

This is more than likely an exception rather than the norm. Before this stretch of poor shooting performances, Miller boasted solid efficiency; over his first four games, he shot 46% from the field and 42% from 3. His past success suggests that the percentages will return to higher levels. 

Elsewhere, the New Orleans Pelicans’ Herb Jones, arguably the best current Alabama alumnus, is dealing with a leg injury that has held him out of two consecutive contests, including a 3-point loss in Friday’s In-Season Tournament match with the Houston Rockets. 

Between his two showings early last week, Jones averaged 8.5 points, 1.5 assists, two rebounds, and 2.5 steals while shooting 44% from the field and 14% beyond the arc. His season as a whole looks fairly similar. He has been an average offensive contributor — 10 points, 1.7 assists, right at four rebounds with field-goal, 3-point and free-throw percentages of 47%, 26% and 89%, respectively — but has stood out on defense with 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks with a 1.7 defensive box plus-minus, which puts him in the league’s 95th percentile. 

Jones’ leg injury has him day-to-day, and he is listed as questionable going into Sunday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks. 

The last Crimson Tide alum with significant court time was Collin Sexton, who continues to acclimate to his new position as a role player for the Utah Jazz. A quick look at his stat line raises the question, however: What kind of role player? 

His four-game stretch last week essentially matched his season-long box averages of 12.2 points per game, 2.1 total rebounds, and 2.7 assists shooting 46% from the field and 33.3% from range. Such averages lack the scoring and efficiency pop to mark him as a second-unit scorer but also lack the playmaking proficiency to paint him as a distributor. As the season goes on, keep an eye out for whether Sexton can up his passing or raise his shooting to a reliable level. 

That essentially encapsulates all the Alabama players getting consequential minutes. Kira Lewis Jr. still gets limited run with the Sacramento Kings and puts up uninspiring numbers. Names fans would recognize, such as Noah Clowney, Josh Primo and Jaden Shackelford, made their season debuts in the NBA G League. 

The pickings are somewhat slim, but Tuscaloosa faithful still have a handful of storylines to keep up with. Between shooting struggles and nagging injuries, the next week of games should provide even more intrigue. 

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