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2021 Utah Jazz Player Profile: Miye Oni

Will this be Miye’s breakout season?

NBA: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

About two years ago, preparing for the 2019 NBA Draft, I stumbled across this fantastic piece about Miye Oni: an intriguing prospect who happened to be about my age. Reading his prep-to-pro story of only having one D1 offer going into senior year to being the first Ivy league player projected to be drafted in over 20 years, I filed his story away as an inspirational tale, wishing him the best.

It was to my great surprise that the Jazz were able to draft him with the 58th overall pick in that draft, the third of three made in the 50s that night. And, surprisingly, Miye has done the best out of all of them - Justin Wright-Foreman, the 52nd pick, flamed out after just one year, and 55th pick Jarrell Brantley is still working on a two-way contract with the Jazz. Miye, on the other hand, has gone to become a bit player for the Jazz wing rotation, plugging in in the case of injuries and occasionally when the situation called for a defensive stopper. But his tremendous development has been on full display this summer, playing critical minutes in the 4th quarter representing Nigeria against the United States in their shocking pre-Olympic exhibition upset, sinking the three to put Nigeria up for good with about 6 minutes left, and a dribble-pull up to put Nigeria up 78-74.

While the Utah Jazz backcourt is as crowded as ever with the addition of Jared Butler, look for Miye to hopefully take some more time as Joe Ingles and Mike Conley rest more often this season, especially with the former’s then league-leading ironman streak coming to a close earlier in January 2021.

2020-21 Stats:

  • 1.9 points per game
  • 1.6 rebounds per game
  • 0.5 assists per game
  • 34.1% 3-point percentage
  • 51.7% true shooting percentage
  • 9.6 minutes per game

It should be noted that these 2020-21 statistics are quite small samples. Over 54 games, Miye played only 519 minutes. In those few minutes, Miye took 88 threes, making 30 of them, which accounted for nearly 90% of his 99 shots – Miye really took the 3&D role to heart. And his defense has been tremendous – he’s done a fantastic job against the likes of Devin Booker, Ja Morant, and Damian Lillard. Just watch these tremendous displays of on and off ball defense!

On that Damian Lillard note - many know that the Weber State alum is a rapper in his spare time and has even charted an album on the US Billboard charts. What you might not know is that Miye has his own budding music career, releasing his own music under the pseudonym TGF Prince - check out his album (explicit) on iTunes here.

But back to basketball - Miye has showcased so much more than just being a 3&D prospect previously: with the Stars in 19-20, he averaged 4.2 assists per game (2.4 turnovers) and 1.2 steals while sporting a true shooting percentage of 56.2%, taking just about half of his shots inside the arc and making 47.8% of them. While G-League stats unfortunately do not track shot location, Miye showed Joe Ingles-like offensive and defensive versatility, and with increased playtime this season, could readily begin to step into something like Joe’s role. I’ve also noticed some excellent plays on offensive rebounding opportunities, showing excellent senses of timing and positioning, such as these plays versus the US in the Olympics (#13) and against the Clippers, as well as the first play in the first video above:

What do I hope to see more of from Oni this season? I hope he is more aggressive with the ball, shooting open shots and driving hard to the rim. I was looking through his G-League footage and was shocked to see how hard this guy likes to dunk - I don’t think I’ve seen him do anything like this at the NBA level. Granted, the G-League competition isn’t quite as high, but Oni needs to have that same level of intensity and ferocity instead of settling for 90% of his shots as threes.

As of right now, Miye’s skillset is a bit too similar to Royce O’Neale’s, being asked to defend and basically only shoot. With Royce being such a crucial part of the Jazz defense, for the Jazz to have a lockdown defense and good offense while playing both of them, Miye is much more likely to become more of a creative threat. If Miye can put more pressure on the rim while upping his three point percentage to 40% and continuing to be an excellent on and off ball defender, he can be the ace that the Jazz have sorely missed these last few playoffs. Here’s hoping the Jazz manage their rest days and winning priorities to get Miye and the rest of the younger guys some much-needed development!