For those unacquainted with Sioux Falls Skyforce guard Patrick Miller, picture a bowling ball violently hurled by the finest of the PBA Tour towards a basketball hoop over and over again. Using his sudden acceleration slashing to the rim has served Miller well throughout his days as a 20 point per game Tennessee State Tiger, a Turkish second league champion with Yesilgiresun, and now as a NBADL microwave scorer.
Miller loves to treat almost every offensive possession like a transition opportunity. He has no qualms barreling the full length of the court to make defenders have to fight tooth & nail to keep him away from the rim. However, he’s still able to rack up free throw after free throw with this style with a 19 free throw game against the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the NBADL Showcase as an eye-opening example. If not fouled, Miller has no issue defying his relatively short 6’1” stature to finish over anyone at the rim for a layup.
Miller’s relentless slashing into the teeth of the defense has truly broken out Miller in the month of January. To be more specific, Miller has been on a tear since scoring 23 points off the bench against Rio Grande on January 11th. Since the 11th, Miller has averaged a team-high 24.4 points and 5.6 assists per game on 59% from the field and 47% from beyond the arc on 3 perimeter attempts per game. That stretch is headlined by a 32 point, 7 assist on 13-18 from the field performance that Miller had on that Thursday night game against the D-Fenders.
Miller’s play, especially his growing willingness to take and make open threes, has even been enough to convince Sioux Falls coach Nevada Smith to insert Miller in the starting lineup for the first time and try an unorthodox lineup of three 6’1” guards. That small trio has yet to gel with the Skyforce’s MVP candidate center Keith Benson as the team has gone 2-2 since stud forward Okaro White got a 10-day from the Heat. However, Miller has kept the scoring flow and made not playing him a difficult option to defend.
The next step for Miller will be to find ways to aid the Skyforce outside of causing chaos around the rim with his drives. The Skyforce takes pride in a stingy defensive identity, evident by them currently 1st in the entire NBADL in defensive rating. Miller definitely puts in his effort on that end, but doesn’t have the tools to deter perimeter players quite like his stalwart teammate Briante Weber does.
The size discrepancy has been made worse with Miller often guarding forwards in the new 3-guard lineup. The Skyforce has missed recent call-up Okaro White’s combo forward capabilities and will need time to adjust as long as Okaro finds himself useful to the parent Miami Heat team. Can Miller adjust to defending players six or seven inches taller? We’ll wait to see. However, Patrick Miller seems to have proven that the league will also need to make adjustments or else.