clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Is Leonard Miller right for the Rockets?

We enlisted the help of draft expert Cooper Klein to answer that question.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NBA: Combine
Cooper Klein of the Upside Swings would love to see Miller in Rockets’ red
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

I like to think I know the NBA Draft fairly well.

I like to think that.

Truthfully, I know the draft well enough - for an NBA fan. If you’ve combed through the depths of NBA Twitter deeply enough, you know that some guys really know the draft.

So my editor wanted a piece on Leonard Miller. He just selected him for the Rockets in SB Nation’s site-wide mock draft (with the 20th pick, don’t worry). The full draft will be posted on Tuesday.

Miller is a 6’10”, 210-pound wing who could realistically play the three, four and five at the NBA level. He was probably the (actual) best player on Scoot Henderson’s G-League Ignite this season. Miller is a unique prospect with an unorthodox range of rip-through moves and head fakes.

I could write about Miller, but I thought it might be better to enlist some help from someone who really knows the draft.

My man Cooper Klein really knows the draft. This guy probably has a 2026 Big Board that’s already color-coded according to tiers. He also happens to love Miller.

So I asked him about him.

Is Leonard Miller right for the Rockets?

What’s up, Cooper? How does it feel to be in a Dream Shake article?

Cooper: Feels really good, man. You’re pretty much the coolest guy I know, so this is an honor. Thank you.*

All right. So I know you’re a big fan of Leonard Miller. Give me your elevator pitch for him as a prospect.

Cooper: Leonard Miller is a high-motor, high-feel player who has the tools and flashes to be a creator bet while still having a baseline as a versatile big man.

Do you see a path to consistent halfcourt creation for Miller if his shot never comes around?

Cooper: Yeah, the handle is real and he can really play make. I don’t think he can become a primary initiator without a reliable jumper, but he can run dribble hand-offs, short roll passes and make great connective passes while having the craft and athleticism to cook guys in isolation and get to the rim pretty consistently.

Right. I feel like “raw” is a word I see attached to Miller’s name a lot. It’s kind of strange because he was wildly productive in the G-League this year. Do you think people are confusing “unorthodox” with “raw”?

Cooper: I think it’s a few things. I think people see somebody who can’t shoot and just call them raw, but also that yeah, last year, he was super raw and even this year there were a lot of mistakes that are correctable. Most of that stuff will come with time and it’s super encouraging that he is “raw” and already has such a great baseline of production.

Imagine a world where Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason and Leonard Miller all reach their ceilings on the Houston Rockets. How does Miller’s role look in that situation?

Cooper: The beauty of Miller is that he can really play a variety of roles defensively. He can match up against more mobile bigs while Bari takes the taller, lower bigs, he’s athletic enough to play as a helper/roamer, and on offense, I think it’s the same story. Miller at his ceiling can play every single role on the floor, he can initiate offense with the ball in his hands, play as the big man or play off-ball with any kind of player next to him. All three of those guys are versatile in their own way and can fill a number of roles, and you can never have too much of that in the frontcourt in my opinion.

Everyone loves comparisons. Give me a ceiling, median and floor for Miller.

Cooper: The ceiling is Bam Adebayo with a tween hesi splash, the floor is lanky Kenneth Faried and the median is wingier Isaiah Hartenstein.

There it is! If you enjoyed this interview, check out Cooper and his friends’ podcast here. The Upside Swings give detailed, nuanced, independent-minded draft analysis.

Cooper is also affiliated with The Chop Shop. In my totally unbiased opinion, they’re tied with The Dream Shake for the best Rockets analysis you’ll find on the internet.

*Some editorial liberties may apply