Will Patty Mills make the Spurs playoff roster?

Will Patty Mills make the Spurs playoff roster?

With the NBA Playoffs less than two weeks away, Gregg Popovich still appears to be tinkering with his bench rotation. Boris Diaw, Marco Belinelli, Aron Baynes, and Manu Ginobili are firmly entrenched in their respective roles, but that tenth spot in the rotation is suddenly up for grabs.

Fighting it out for that spot appears to be backup point guards Patty Mills and Cory Joseph.

Despite beginning the season with a broken arm when Mills finally returned to the court in January and seemed ready to return to the form he displayed in the Spurs championship run against Miami.

After missing November and the majority of December with his injury Mills had a productive January averaging 10 points in 20 minutes per game. His numbers have decreased each month since.

DATE
MIN
REB
AST
PTS
January
19.6
2.1
1.4
9.9
February
14.8
1.2
1.4
6.3
March
14
1
2
4.9

 

Mills may be playing himself out of the playoff rotation completely. He’s only scored more than three points in three of his last eleven games. His shooting percentage has dropped to a lowly 25% during April with Patty shooting 7/27 in the last month of the season.The way Gregg Popovich inserted him back into the team you would have assumed Mills would secure his rightful spot in the rotation as soon as his shoulder was completely healed. This no longer seems to be the case, as painful as it may be for Aussie Hoops fans admit, from a numbers stand point Patty has been nowhere close to the player he was last season.

PattyMillsvsnykHis struggles now open the door for Cory Joseph to get the backup point guard job when the postseason arrives. In his last four games Joseph has played 23, 26, 17, and 18 minutes respectively, averaging nearly eight points per game on 56.5 percent shooting.

Over the course of the entire season Joseph has averaged 6.9 points and 2.3 assists per game on 50.3 percent shooting and 35 percent from outside. Not only has Mills played worse than Joseph over the last few weeks, he has been worse for most of the season.

He returned much earlier than expected from rotator cuff surgery, but he has not been able to shake off the rust. Mills has played in 46 games, averaging 6.8 points per game, shooting a disappointing 36.9 percent from the field and only 33.5 percent on three-pointers–down from 46.4 percent and 42.5 percent during the 2013-14 season.

Mills played 23 games in the playoffs during last season’s championship run, averaging 7.3 points per game while making 40.5 percent of his three-pointers. His 17-point performance in Game 5 of the NBA Finals helped clinch the series against the Miami Heat and will forever be a part of highlight montages when that moment is fondly revisited.

Aussie basketball die-hards will  have to hope Patty is a recipient of the Derek Fisher treatment, meaning Coach Pop decides to run with the poorer numbers of Patty instead of Joseph due to his history of coming up big in big games.

This seems like more of a Phil Jackson strategy however and it’s probably unlikely Coach Pop goes that route.

The idea of a playoff run that sees him only watching from the sidelines will be hard to watch for us, but surely it would be even tougher for Patty Mills.

There’s still a few more games in the season and at the end of the day it will come down to which player is currently producing.

Of course, Mills and Joseph are very different players. Mills is a speedy scorer that can light it up from outside when he gets hot. Joseph is more of a traditional point guard, taking care of the ball and facilitating. Each makes a positive impact on the team when they are on their game, but right now Mills can’t seem to make shots.

Has Patty recovered 100% from his injury, maybe not, who knows but the Spurs no longer have time to hope that he regains the form that made him a key piece during last season’s run to an NBA Championship. Once the playoffs start the rotation will be trimmed and he will either perform or sit the bench.

Dan BoyceAuthor: Dan Boyce (315 Posts)

Dan Boyce is a die-hard Sydney Kings fan who grew up in Melbourne during the roaring 90's of Australian Basketball and spent far too much time collecting Futera NBL Basketball cards