March 2, 2011; Sacramento, CA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Patrick Mills (8) drives to the hoop past Sacramento Kings guard Beno Udrih (19) in the second quarter at the Power Balance Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

For Spurs, Mills another revelation

The Spurs front office has been hugely successful for more than a decade and the prolonged longevity of the Spurs success is in large part due to the efforts of R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich.

From Avery Johnson to Bruce Bowen to Manu Ginobili to Tony Parker to DeJuan Blair to George Hill to Tiago Splitter to Gary Neal to Danny Green to Kawhi Leonard to Boris Diaw and now Patrick Mills, the Spurs have proven, first hand, their unparalleled ability to nurture and develop valuable members of the rotation.

When you consider that the Spurs also drafted Goran Dragic, Ian Mahimni and Luis Scola — all mainstays of their respective rotations — you begin to realize that the Spurs front office is no fluke. But you already knew that.

That would explain the long list, right?

Even today, I’m still not sure how the Spurs are able to unearth players previously overlooked by other NBA franchises. But, still, time and time again; the Spurs pull off the inevitable. Sure there have been some notable missteps — letting go of Scola, signing and re-signing Richard Jefferson for example — but that shouldn’t detract from their consistent acuity.

But, again, we already knew that. Instead, I rather talk about the diminutive 6’0″ point guard out of Australia, Patrick Mills.

In four games with the Spurs, Mills is playing well enough to garner more minutes as the incumbent backup point guard. His ability to score off the dribble and knock down the open 3-pointer will do wonders for a team that is relying on Tony Parker for 33.4 minutes a game.

Mills’ averages: 10.3 points, 1.8 3-pointer, 68.0 field goal percentage and a 63.6 shooting percentage from behind the arc.

In his two games, specifically, he has logged over 20 minutes of playing time, which surely is an indictment of his quality play. Gregg Popovich is notoriously frugal with his minutes and for Mills to earn this amount of playing time this early into his tenure with the Spurs (he signed a two-year deal with a player option next year worth $885,120) is a pretty good sign.

So, with the way Mills is playing, why didn’t he garner more interest around the league? I have no idea.

Judging from his play, Mills is already a legitimate backup point guard, one that could help an inordinate amount of NBA teams. A point guard that can play serviceably behind an elite point guard — ie: Goran Dragic, C.J. Watson — and can singlehandledly lengthen the lead and shorten the toil on the starters body is, to put it mildly, pretty important.

As we enter the final three weeks of the NBA season, just be thankful that the Spurs, and not some other backup point guard deficient team (didn’t the Thunder need one? I shutter at the very thought), landed Mills.

I mean, what else is there to say about the Spurs’ front office? I’m at a loss for words. Otherwise, this piece would be infinitely longer in length.

So, yeah, Mills is pretty good and the Spurs were both lucky and savvy in retaining his services for another year. And we prevented a team like the Thunder from improving their team. Yay, us!

Tags: Avery Johnson Boris Diaw Bruce Bowen Danny Green DeJuan Blair Gary Neal George Hill Goran Dragic Gregg Popovich Ian Mahimni Kawhi Leonard Luis Scola Manu Ginobili Patrick Mills San Antonio Spurs Tiago Splitter Tony Parker

  • dreamsofexile

    In many ways the Spurs FO play Basketball moneyball. They have a way of finding gems in the types of guys who are undervalued by the rest of the NBA. Take Mills, 4 years ago he takes Team USA to the cleaners as an 18 year old kid at the Olympics, doest take a genius to realize, teach this kid the NBA way and he will be a gun. Where as all the other teams would have been going nah, 6’0 shooting PG. no thanks. As a result we have a guy sitting 12 on our rotation who can drop 20 a night. 

  • LWM_sucks

     @dreamsofexile I like the way you put the Spurs FO as utilizing “Moneyball” because, well, that’s a pretty good way to define their success. I feel like these gems that they consistently find stem from our unique ability to develop players and it’s something that has piqued my interest recently especially bcause of our 10-game winning streak. I think player development, in essence, is the market inefficiency that the Spurs are exploiting just like the A’s exploited OBP. Teams spend so much energy drafting players but, in the end, if you can’t fit that player into your system, give him some confidence and put him in favorable positions then you render his talent relatively useless.I really appreciate your comment. 

  • rtesoro440

    Let’s hope Mills continues to improve his game. Coach Pops has given all the chances to prove a point. He has become an able 2nd pg for the team. The same maybe said of Diaw and Jackson. Enough time for physical conditioning is afforded them and gel with the rest. Good Luck guys. Go Spurs!