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San Antonio Spurs 2017-18 season review: Patty Mills

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Patty Mills #8 of the San Antonio Spurs dribbles the ball against the Golden State Warriors during an NBA basketball game at ORACLE Arena on February 10, 2018 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Patty Mills #8 of the San Antonio Spurs dribbles the ball against the Golden State Warriors during an NBA basketball game at ORACLE Arena on February 10, 2018 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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In his seventh year with the San Antonio Spurs, Patty Mills was asked to contribute at the point guard spot more than ever.

This past summer Patty Mills was one of several San Antonio Spurs set to be a free agent. With veteran Tony Parker still recovering from a brutal injury suffered in the 2017 Western Conference Semifinals and young talent like Dejounte Murray along with Derrick White still learning the ropes, Mills was brought back to keep things steady at the point. On August 4th he re-signed with the Spurs on a four-year, $50 million contract. In what was an up and down season for sure, Mills’ continued provide some juice for the Spurs’ offense with his three-point shooting.

Mills played in all 82 games and started 36 of them, the most in his career along with averaging 25.7 minutes a game, also a career-high. However, Mills’ field goal percentage (41.1) and three-point field goal percentage (37.2) were both worse than the previous year. In the playoffs against Golden State, he started all five games, shooting 43.9 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.

The Australian native also picked up a few team accolades during the season. On December 4 against the Detroit Pistons, Mills became the third reserve player in franchise history, along with Manu Ginobili and Matt Bonner, to hit 500 three-pointers. A few weeks later against the Los Angeles Clippers, Mills joined Ginobili and Malik Rose as the only players in team history to score 3,000 points coming off the bench. In February against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mills moved up to fourth all-time in three-pointers made in Spurs’ history.

On January 17th, Mills turned in arguably his best performance of the season. Against the Brooklyn Nets, he scored 25 points on 7-10 shooting with 7 threes made, a season-high. Mills’ performance helped San Antonio secure a 100-95 victory.

With the quadriceps injury to all-star forward Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs were forced to shuffle their starting lineup several times during the course of the season. With Parker injured for the first month of the season, coach Popovich gave Murray the green light to start.

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However, after seven games in, Mills became the starter to provide better veteran leadership on the floor. While he performed well at times, Mills only scored in double-digits six times over the 12-game stretch before Parker returned on November 27th. Parker remained the starter until late January when Popovich decided to insert Murray back in to provide more youth an explosiveness at that position.

As the season began to wind down and the Spurs were looking to secure a playoff spot, Mills was reinserted as the starter for the rest of the season. The move paid off as the team rallied late to clinch the seventh playoff spot in the West.

While Mills has been key in the Spurs’ three-point shooting every year, it has often been the only thing he provides. At six-foot, his frame does not match that of other dominant point guards in the league at both ends of the floor. Murray’s length gives him an advantage at that end and it showed this season with his rebounding numbers. For most of his career Mills has been a good shooter coming off the bench and that is where he seems to fit best.

Season Grade: B-    

Next: 2018 NBA Mock Draft: After the lottery

With Mills likely returning next year, San Antonio will still have a capable shooter coming off their bench when need. While Murray may very well claim the starting job next year, Mills will more than likely be called upon a lot. It also remains to be seen if Parker will give it another go next season. Either way, Mills is a player the Spurs value on their roster.

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