This season has seen Australian Boomers guard Patty Mills who is having his most efficient season ever for the San Antonio Spurs.
Taking a glance at Mills’ numbers won’t allow you to see the real impact he is having in the league this year. With career averages of 7.5 points, 1.8 assists, and 1.5 rebounds per game this season Mills has carved a clearly defined role within the well structured San Antonio offence which has been built around the talents of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobilli and Tony Parker for 15 years.
Take a look at Mills averages on a per 36 minute basis as an indicator. The numbers show that while Parker is still the Spurs floor general Mills has quietly became just as important to what the Spurs do.
In fact, Mills’ numbers are pretty damn close to the man who starts in front of him, the great Tony Parker. The Spurs success is heavily weighted on Parker so this isn’t a campaign for Mills to replace Parker, but it shows the importance of both players for the Spurs title hopes and Australia’s medal aspirations.
Mills often steps into the game to increase the tempo, ignite the team’s second unit and keep the scoreboard ticking behind his deadly long range shooting, allowing San Antonio starters to rest comfortably.
If you want to measure how well Mills is providing the Spurs this added luxury of being to rest their aging stars it can be easily seen with Mills having one of the highest point differentials in the NBA.
The Spurs have outscored opponents by 408 points when Mills is in the game. He is ahead of Duncan (+388), Parker (+343), Ginobili (+303), Boris Diaw (+288), and every other Spur except for superstar Leonard (+607).
That fact Mills is even in the top 50, let alone top 15 on a list comprised mostly of the NBA’s All-Star game roster is amazing.
He is tied with Tony Snell and Nikola Jokic 191st in minutes played this season, indicating how little time he has played relative to others to create a high point differential.
If we evaluate Mills on a point differential basis per 36 minutes, he sits just behind Klay Thompson and ahead of Russell Westbrook. Pretty good company, right?
The San Antonio Spurs will face a huge test this week as they face the Thunder, Clippers, Blazers and Warriors in the coming days.
The Spurs record isn’t looking good against the top teams in the west. The Spurs are 0-1 versus Golden State and 1-1 versus the Thunder.
But if you think the Spurs are lying awake thinking of how to stop the Warriors and Thunder, think again. In an interview with ESPN Mills let it be known the team are only focusing on themselves.
“We focus on ourselves. Not so much those in particular teams. We know we have to be at a certain point, at a certain time in the season to beat those teams. We focus on ourselves and what we need to do and how we need to grow and get better to be able to beat those teams when we need to. We got a big week coming up against some pretty powerhouse teams. Definitely gearing up for that.”
Mill’s strong form bodes well for the Boomers medal hopes in August.
“The team that we have together now with seven of us in the NBA, and some playing at a high level in Europe, and then a couple guys in Australia that are playing big time, and putting up big-time numbers, I think it’s arguably the best team that’s been put together to go over to a major championship like this,” Mills commented on the announcement of the current Boomers 25 man squad.
“So when you look at it like that, I think this is our best chance to try and do something that Australia has never done before. We’re going over there with a goal for us to try and win a medal as it should be, and everyone on the team deep down believes that we can.”
Mills’ role right now is to be that spark off the bench, and he has excelled over the past few seasons. But as Parker, 33, continues to age, Mills will have to play an even larger role for the San Antonio Spurs. Perhaps, as Parker, Duncan, and Ginobili exit in the next few years, there will be a new big three in San Antonio.
Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and… Patty Mills?