Greetings! We’re winding down our player previews (2 more following this), and if you’ve missed any so far, you can start with our look at Kyle Korver and work your way back. Today, the newly-acquired Paul Millsap is on the agenda, and let’s get right to it.
Paul Millsap was brought in, at the ridiculously cheap price of 2 years and $19 million, as the “replacement” for Josh Smith, but the two are very different players despite occupying the same position. He’s been a long-time stud in Utah, playing 7 years for the Jazz, but he’s never been the unquestioned “guy” at his position, as evidenced by the fact that he’s never averaged more than 34.3 minutes per contest.
With the Jazz, Millsap was a per-minute monster, routinely posting PER’s in the 18-21 range, and he averaged 17.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per 36 minutes last season. The 28-year-old power forward has never posted a true shooting percentage below 54% thanks to strong field goal shooting (career 51.6%) and more than acceptable free throw shooting (career 72.3%). He’s also a monster rebounder, especially for his size, and he possesses a valuable “motor” that allows him to play full-speed at all times.
There are some (limited) drawbacks to his game, as his 6-foot-8 frame isn’t prototypical for the position (especially with Horford next to him at center) which causes his defense to suffer against longer opponents. Offensively, he creates shots efficiently with crafty moves around the basket, and he even played some small forward in Utah thanks to an ability to knock down mid-range to long-range jumpers. Millsap isn’t a “highlight” player in the vein of Josh Smith, but he’s certainly more efficient (understatement of the year) offensively, and he’s very solid on the other end.
Role on the Roster
If all goes as expected, Millsap will start 70+ games at the power forward spot, while probably being in the top-2 on the roster in terms of points per game and rebounds per game. I can’t see a scenario where he averages less than 34-36 minutes per game at the power forward spot, and we could even see him at the 3 in some “big” lineups, thanks to the lack of wing depth for the Hawks.
His versatility is a tremendous asset for a team blessed with many interchangeable parts, and he’s also a guy that can generate his own offense when the likes of Horford and Teague are on the bench. Keep an eye on his efficiency numbers, as there have been rumblings that Millsap could turn some of his long 2-point attempts into 3’s this season in Budenholzer’s wide open offense.
As far as stats are concerned, I think Millsap will land in the 16-18 point-per-game range with 7-8 rebounds and a field goal percentage north of 50%. That is absolutely tremendous value for what he’s being paid (especially compared to the other players on the open market), and while he won’t fill every gap left by Josh Smith (on the defensive end, mostly), he’ll be a tremendous asset. Fans will love Millsap for his tenacity, and in my mind, he’s a better player than the guy he is replacing.
Stay tuned for the next installment, and be sure to check out all of our Hawks coverage!