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Miller debuts with double-double as Wolves top Pelicans

Minnesota forward Leonard Miller is boxed out by two New Orleans players during his double-double debut. Photo Credit: Terrel Emerson

Originally advertised as a versatile forward with a motor appeared as good as publicized during his NBA Summer League debut.

Miller posted a double-double while helping the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the New Orleans Pelicans, 102-88, Friday, July 7 from the Cox Pavilion.

“It felt great to finally wear an NBA jersey,” he said. “Everybody dreams of it, I dreamt of it. I’m glad to be a Timberwolf, I’m glad to wear the jersey and rep it proudly.”

Miller got the start and found his rhythm in the offense through his rebounding, gobbling up two offensive rebounds before going back up for two points.

Both baskets were scored in front of a healthy conglomerate of G League Ignite coaches and players including some former teammates. Miller recorded an Ignite single-season record with 17 double-doubles in his lone season with the program.

“I give credit to myself because I put in the work and the hours,” he said. “But also the G League Ignite for the preparation and building me into the player I am right now. [After] playing in the G League for a season, playing in the summer league is nothing.”

The 6'10 forward showcased his coast-to-coast ability early in the game as well, knocking down a three-pointer at one end and racing back to the other end to draw a charge. Defensively, he was all over the place tallying two steals and a block in his 23-plus minutes of action.

“I just want to show everybody what I’m capable of,” Miller said. “[I] just want to go out there and hoop, play as a team and we won so I guess I didn’t do that bad of a job in that area.”

In last month’s NBA Draft, Miller was selected in the second round, No. 33 overall to the San Antonio Spurs before being traded to Minnesota. After wearing No. 11 with the Ignite, he has opted to switch his jersey number to 33.

“That’s a big reminder,” he said. “I’m going to run with it, 33, I like that number now so I picked it primarily because it’s motivation. I’m fortunate to have landed with the Minnesota Timberwolves.”

Now, he isn’t worried about being a second round draft pick, he’s simply worried about controlling his play on the court.

“People are going to start to respect me when they see what I can do,” Miller said. “I’m not worried about people respecting me right now, I’m just going to keep being me.”

Timberwolves forward Josh Minott throws down an alley-oop from teammate Leonard Miller. Photo Credit: Terrel Emerson

Being a former point guard, Miller set up several teammates in prime scoring position including forward Josh Minott who was on the receiving end of a first half alley-oop.

“I’m a good passer,” he said. “I feel like I’m sort of underrated in that sense. I share the ball, I get my teammates involved and making a pass like that is nothing to me. I do that, it’s in my game – and I’m sure anywhere I throw it at the rim, it can even be a bad pass, he’s going to catch it because he’s so bouncy.”

Additionally, Miller made the extra pass in the fourth quarter to an open teammate for another long ball. In the game’s final frame, Minnesota outscored New Orleans by 17 points to regain control of the game including an 11-0 run to close the contest.

It came as a response to a 7-0 run by the Pelicans to close the third quarter, a quarter that they won, 28-16.

“There were a couple of lulls but a lot of highs,” Miller said. “When things went wrong, we bounced back. They came back toward the fourth quarter and then we did the right things to really extend it.”

Miller finished with 16 points on 7-of-11 from the field to go along with 11 rebounds. Minott added 20 points while the team was lead in scoring by guard Brandon Williams’ 24.

Minnesota second round draft pick Leonard Miller looks to line up a three during the team's 102-88 win over New Orleans. Photo Credit: Terrel Emerson

However, it was Miller who put the final stamp on the game with a sequence that began with a block to which he punctuated with a dunk on the other end. Still exhibiting his motor, he came down and played the passing lanes for his final steal of the game while diving to the floor.

While on the ground, Miller was mobbed by teammates with punches to the chest. Moreover, the summer league group had members of the main roster sitting in the front row including all-star guard Anthony Edwards and recently re-signed forward Naz Reid.

“Everybody is good people,” Miller said. “I see that with the Timberwolves family, everybody is kind, everybody is together. I feel like it's a family.”

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