For Spurs, Mills another revelation

By Quixem Ramirez

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!