Three NBA teams (Utah, Orlando, and the Lakers) were in attendance for Texas/TCU Saturday, which was a roller coaster game of ups and downs, ending with a Texas upset win. In this game, Emanuel Miller, Dillon Mitchell, and Jameer Nelson Jr stood out. A deeper breakdown of what they brought to the table and what scouts liked and didn’t like:
Emanuel Miller finished with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 turnover on 5/10 shooting (3-4 from 3). In this game, Miller showed more of his improved shooting, being able to creatively shoot off the catch, with jab steps as he caught the ball for example and simply having good footwork from the catch into the shot. Additionally, he did a good job of finding the holes in the defense as a cutter, being able to use his athleticism well. Like many games, Miller found ways to score hustle buckets by finding the holes and doing the dirty work to win plays others won’t grind for. Miller’s stock continues to rise, even as a 23 year old senior that will be 24 on draft night. At the moment, look for Miller to be a late second round pick or an undrafted free agent that signs on a two-way contract.
Dillon Mitchell is one of the most explosive athletes in the country, but struggles scoring and creating away from play-finishing. Mitchell finished the game with 13 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, and 4 turnovers on 6-9 shooting. The positive from this game is that he showcased his impressive motor, being able to follow his own shot and never give up on plays defensively. His motor also fed into his rebounding on both ends with 4 offensive rebounds to 7 defensive rebounds.
Offensively, there’s a lot of red flags around his game: he cannot dribble beyond a straight-line drive (even then his ball security is poor), his jumper is not much of a concern for defenses, he plays the dunker spot at 6’8 often, and he picks up his dribble too easily at times, putting him in bad spots at bad times (video below).
In order to stick in the NBA, he will have to develop some offensive game that fits his physical profile. At the moment, Mitchell plays like a 7 footer in a 6’8 forward’s body, which makes him hard to play in most NBA lineups. There’s a chance he can play some small-ball center, but even that feels like a specific niche role that requires a perfect roster construction around him. In addition to this, Mitchell’s margin for error in his strengths (finishing at the rim & defense) are extremely low, which means one or two mistakes could make a coach pull the plug on him in a meaningful game.
Jameer Nelson Jr:
Heading into the game, I had been trying to figure out what exactly it was that held Jameer Nelson out of the starting lineup and why his offense wasn’t clicking at TCU. Seeing this in person made that quite apparent: he plays out of control too often and forces tough plays when easier reads are available. To make the jump to the next level, Nelson will have to improve his point guard abilities, and play at both slow and fast speeds. NBA spacing and tempo should do him favors, but for the time being he needs to prove consistency at different speeds of the game. Defensively, Nelson found ways to impact the game defensively, as his instincts on that end are off the charts. Two examples:
Overall, Miller, Mitchell, and Nelson are likely two-way contract candidates with areas of their game that they need to improve quickly. Look for Miller’s draft stock to keep rising as Big 12 play continues, with Mitchell having a chance to boost his stock as a sophomore, and Nelson could make a name for himself with a few big games in the coming month.