With Tony Parker on the decline, Patty Mills is proving that he is the San Antonio Spurs’ point guard of the future.
Parker is entering the twilight of his career. Although it’s sad to turn the page on an era, the reality has to be addressed that Parker doesn’t have much time left in the league playing at a high level.
He had his worst regular season statistically since his rookie year, but luckily the Spurs don’t have to stress over finding a suitable replacement for Parker, because Mills is proving to be quite capable of growing into the role of starting point guard for the Spurs.
Although he may never be the star Parker was, Mills is showing glimpses of skills that can keep the Spurs moving forward.
Just as his role last season was, this season has not changed for Mills. Mills served as a spark-plug off the bench. He averaged 20.5 minutes and averaged 8.5 points per game during the 2015-16 season.
His offensive prowess came largely in the form of perimeter shooting. Over half of his shots came from 3 point range, hitting over 38 percent, which ranked 4th on the team among players who averaged at least one 3 point attempt per game.
Mills has kept up his scoring aptitude in the playoffs. Against the Memphis Grizzlies, Mills ranked 3rd on the Spurs by averaging 10.5 points per game.
What made this all the more impressive was that he only averaged 9.5 minutes per game. Also, 23 out of his 29 shots in the series were 3 pointers, and he shot nearly 44 percent on them.
Mills isn’t the floor general Parker is on the court, but he still has the potential to expand his skills as a facilitator. The Spurs have a knack for player development, and they’ve turned Mills from an afterthought in the league into a valuable contributor.
Through five games this season, Mills has continued his strong play for San Antonio. Averaging 12.2 points per game with two back-to-back 18 point performances, Mills’ spark helps Spurs gain momentum.
Many believe Mills is better off when he is coming off of the bench. As stated, one of his 18 point performances came as a starter this season against the New Orleans Pelicans.
In 24 minutes of play, was 6 of 9 from the floor including 4 of 7 from beyond the 3 point line. He was also a facilitator as he dished out four helpers in the Spurs 98-79 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Whether he is a starter or coming off the bench, Mills continues to be effective for the Spurs.
His play should ease the Spurs’ anxiety regarding their future at point guard post-Parker. Mills is a student of the Spurs’ brand of team-oriented basketball, and he’s flashed the talent to encourage the excitement that has surrounded his ascendance.