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By LARRY VAUGHT
It was no secret the New Orleans Hornets were going to pick Anthony Davis with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, but the Hornets were obviously also thrilled to find Davis’ Kentucky teammate, Anthony Miller, midway of the second round based on a story at NBA.com (http://www.nba.com/hornets/news/hornets_pleased_surprised___2012_07_02.html).
“We think he’s a good player. He can shoot the ball. The one thing about him is that his role in college will be very similar to the NBA. He’s not the superstar. I want to see him fit in, get into the system,” Hornets general manager Dell Demps said
“We were very fortunate,” assistant GM Tim Connelly said. “I know there were teams who had him on their board in the first round. He’s a selfless player, very tough, with a maturity that you generally don’t see in college players. He was the glue guy for the best team in college basketball. He was a big-shot maker, loves the moment, and has great positional size. He can play a couple positions and is versatile.”
The Hornets like his size and versatility to be able to perhaps be a “spot-up shooter” on the perimeter.
“He can spread the court. He’s surprisingly athletic and is sneaky bouncy. He’s a big, strong guy. He’s also very smart and is a great teammate. What he does surprisingly well is he’s able to use his size and establish his post game. He’s just a solid all-around player,” Connelly said.
Kentucky fans know that. He gladly sacrificed individual numbers last season when he started just 11 times in 40 games after starting 37 games as a junior. He averaged 9.9 points per game last season but also had a knack for hitting key shots at big moments.
Even as a second-round draft pick, he’s in a good spot with New Orleans because the Hornets currently have only six veteran players under contract and need to revise their roster and a team-first player could be a huge plus. Even Connelly noticed that about Miller and his teammates last season.
“They had six guys drafted. They could’ve all started on almost any team in college basketball. That really speaks to those guys, Coach (John) Calipari and the staff down there. They were able to amass that amount of talent, but maintain the team-first and winning-first approach. It paid off in team success and individual success. We talk about it all the time, that if you win, everybody wins. It clearly didn’t hurt Darius,” Connelly said.
But wait. Here’s the best reason yet to think the Hornets plan on having Miller on their opening game roster.
“All of the background we did on Darius was not good, it was great. To add a guy like that who has that type of approach was fantastic. And Anthony was just as excited as anybody. That speaks to what type of teammate Darius is,” Connelly said.