| MBB/WBB NBA draft with Clowney and Miller. Rankings/evals from The Athletic.

John Hollinger.

4. Brandon Miller, 20, 6-9 Fr. SF, Alabama
Basketball-wise, Miller might be the safest player on the board after Wembanyama. NBA teams will delve deeply into what transpired off-the-court at Alabama this past season, but as of now, teams don’t seem overly concerned.

The problem is that, in the top five, safe isn’t exactly what you’re going after. Miller is 6-9, a money shooter, can handle the ball, whips left-handed passers to rim runners off the bounce and defends the wing at least somewhat credibly. It’s easy to imagine Khris Middleton or Rashard Lewis-type outcomes for him, where he’s the second-best player on a good team.

It’s just harder to see a leading man. He’s not that level of athlete, finisher or ballhandler, and at 21, he’s a bit older than everyone else in the top 10. Despite his size, Miller is a very ordinary finisher, lacking explosion and craft around the rim and struggling to complete plays against any kind of length. His high dribble also gets exposed at times, especially against smaller defenders, and can get away from him.

Miller can shoot off the catch, on the move or off the dribble, and the threat of his shot opens lanes and stresses defense. A nit-picker would like him to get more air under the ball, but he’s big and gets it away fast. His footwork is so good on the catch that he can easily be weaponized as a pick-and-pop threat, something that’s likely to happen much more at the pro level. It’s just hard to imagine a leading man who can’t create offense inside the arc.

Defensively, Miller moves his feet decently for 6-9, and his upper body should fill out enough to allow him to play more four as he gets older. However, I wouldn’t call him a true switch guy either; after one or two slides, he’ll often leave the barn door open for a blow-by. I would trust him guarding threes and perimeter fours though, and he helps on the glass.

Overall, I’m probably on an island choosing Whitmore’s upside over Miller’s certainty, but I think the age difference here isn’t getting enough attention.

15. Noah Clowney, 18, 6-10 Fr. PF, Alabama
Another birth-certificate bet, Clowney was asked to play as a stretch four on one of the best teams in the country despite the fact that he’s not really ready to be a stretch four. At least yet. This is a classic case of a young, thin player still needing to grow into his body and refine some of his movement, but Clowney is long and fairly skilled.

There is a stretch five here several years down the road, but the question is what Clowney can be between now and then. It’s possible he becomes another Jalen Smith, where he doesn’t give you enough offense at the four but isn’t filled out enough physically to play the five.

It’s worth the risk at this point in the draft. Despite his youth and size, Alabama trusted Clowney to guard the perimeter a ton. He has high hips and his first slide isn’t always great, but he could make up ground late and has his size to fall back on. He also had a knack for taking charges, something that makes up for his middling shot-blocking rate (3.4 percent). Clowney also rebounded at a very high level (15.5 percent) despite ample competition for boards on a big Alabama front line and did not have a notably high foul rate.

Offensively, Clowney’s 3-point percentage (28.3 percent) didn’t line up with the eye test. His stroke is pretty fluid, and it seems only a matter of time before he finds the net more frequently. His 64.9 percent mark from the line is equally sobering. Nonetheless, given his youth and smooth release, I think he’s going to be a league-average shooter before long.

Again, at this point in the draft, it’s an upside risk on a player who might bomb. Clowney is extremely unlikely to play meaningful minutes as a rookie, but in a few years, he could be a starter
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