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 6: Brandon Miller is finding his rhythm, and others serve as stars in their roles

CW / David Gray
Former Alabama basketballer player Brandon MIller (#24) passes the ball against Auburn.

Another week has passed in the NBA, and former Alabama stars occupy a variety of positions along the spectrum of individual and team success. 

Brandon Miller 

The recap for this slate of games shall begin where most Crimson Tide fans’ minds will immediately shift: 2023 second overall pick Brandon Miller. 

After a stretch earlier in the season in which he struggled to hit 3s while shooting them at high volume, the Charlotte Hornets forward has found the dynamism he showed while in college. In his two games this week against the Magic and Knicks, he shot 2-3 and 4-8 respectively, combining for a superb 55%. 

His intermediate game remains solid as well. In addition to his high perimeter shooting clip, he nearly eclipsed 50% from the field. It has helped him elevate his effective field goal rate to 54% and his true shooting to 57%. These splits aren’t quite at the level a shot-reliant offensive star like Miller should strive to sustain, but given his earlier woes, they are a step in the right direction. 

Miller’s main issue is his staunch reliance on jumpers. Most of his shot diet comes from behind the 3-point line; he feasts around the basket on less than 22% of his field goal attempts, which is too low considering his near-70% conversion rate in that area. He’s never been one to awe with his athleticism, but if he can create for himself a legitimate interior gravity, it will open up his much-preferred outside shot. 

Elsewhere, the more role-based Alabama alumni are chugging away in their specific positions. 

Collin Sexton 

In Salt Lake City, Utah, Collin Sexton continues to serve as a solid second-unit ball handler, playing right around 25 minutes per game. Since last weekend, he hovered in the range of his season-long averages: In two wins against the Pelicans and losses to the Grizzlies and Timberwolves, he put up 12.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists on 40% shooting marks both from the field and from 3-point range. 

He still isn’t much of a facilitator, which is what one would likely want and expect from a smaller guard who is also functioning as a veteran on a young team. Last season, with an offensive rating of 119 compared with a 120 defensive rating, that dynamic wasn’t super prevalent; with a respective deterioration to 111 and 122, his minutes look less productive. 

With the Utah Jazz sitting at 7-13 and 12th place in the Western Conference, it unfortunately feels a tad like Sexton is racking up solid but uninspiring stats while stuck in obscurity. 

Herbert Jones 

For Herbert Jones, team success is in a much more optimal state. The New Orleans Pelicans are 11-10 and squarely in the Western Conference playoff and play-in picture, and Jones continues to be a star in his role. 

His offensive numbers are somewhat similar to Sexton’s — 11.5 points, four rebounds and 2.7 assists on 52% field goal shooting and 36.2% from 3 — and in more time on the court. This production level is complemented, however, by Jones’ sustained defensive success rooted in his skillset and intellect. He is currently putting up a career-high 2.6 defensive box plus-minus with a 110 defensive rating, both earning him spots in the 93rd percentile in the league or higher. 

The Pelicans have a ways to go before reaching the contending level their roster suggests they are capable of, but as a prestige 3-and-D player, Jones is doing his part as best he can. 

Noah Clowney 

To close on a more fun note, since the last alumni update, 2022 Alabama staple and Brooklyn Nets rookie Noah Clowney made his NBA debut. In a blowout victory over the Orlando Magic on Nov. 25, he logged three minutes and grabbed a single rebound. It was nothing revolutionary, but for Crimson Tide fans the gratification lies more in seeing old faces finally getting a big-league run. 

That’s essentially the theme of this week. As there are no superstars to be found among this bunch, keeping tabs on progress — and lack thereof — is the best way that the Tuscaloosa faithful can get an NBA fix while maintaining their team pride. Stay tuned to see where the former Crimson Tide studs find themselves after a fresh week of games.  

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