Patty Mills Must Be Unleashed

By George Middleton

Tony Parker had the worst season he’s had in a long time. The 33-year-old averaged 14.4 points and 4.9 assists. The numbers were the lowest in both categories since his rookie season in 2001-02. In the playoffs, Parker was even worse. Parker averaged 10.9 points on 36% field goals in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers. Parker couldn’t even make a free throw in the playoffs (59%). Had Parker played a little better the Spurs would’ve advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals. A positive from Parker’s season is that he made 43% of his threes, a career high.

In the offseason the Spurs lost Cory Joseph. Joseph signed with the Toronto Raptors on a four-year, $28 million deal.

The Spurs traded a future second-round selection to the Sacramento Kings for Ray McCallum. McCallum averaged 7.4 points and 2.8 assists last season. In 30 starts his numbers jumped to 11.2 points and 4.3 assists. The 24-year-old will take on Joseph’s role as the backup alongside Patty Mills.

Mills is the most intriguing guard off the Spurs bench. The 27-year-old is a terrific shooter and a pesky defender. Mills missed nearly half the season last year with a shoulder injury. When Mills came back he was inconsistent. He averaged 6.9 points in nearly 16 minutes a game.

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In the postseason Mills was fantastic. In the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers he averaged 10.1 points off the Spurs bench. His efficiency was off the charts. Mills shot 50% from the field and 57% from three point range.

One can make the case that Mills is good enough to start for a few teams. If Parker struggles early on, the Spurs must free up Mills. This doesn’t mean the Spurs should start him, but they should begin to play him around 25 minutes a game. Imagine playing Mills alongside Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Tim Duncan? Mills and Danny Green will have clean looks from distance, that is scary for the opposition.

Who knows maybe Parker bounces back, and then you can forget about this whole article. That’s what Spurs fans hope.

Next: Reviewing the opening week of the Spurs Preseason