San Antonio Spurs: FIBA Patty Mills is here to set the NBA on fire

Jan 5, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) moves in for a basket against Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and guard Luke Kennard (5) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 5, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) moves in for a basket against Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and guard Luke Kennard (5) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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The San Antonio Spurs veteran has been on an absolute tear lately

When Patty Mills told San Antonio Spurs fans that they were going to see a different version of him this year he wasn’t kidding. He was coming for throats and heaven help anyone who got in his way.

Spurs fans might have known what to expect from FIBA Patty but there are plenty of NBA fans who are probably unfamiliar with Patty’s international alter egos.

Olympic Patty led the 2020 London Olympics in scoring, FIBA Patty carried Australia to a fourth-place finish in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup and has been the leader of the squad for years. Something about playing outside the USA brings out the best in Patty. He even lit up the Phoenix Suns when they played the Spurs in Mexico City last year.

Now Patty has brought that energy to the San Antonio Spurs. He’s been on an absolute tear through seven games and his presence has never been more valuable.

Patty Mills is setting the league on fire from behind the arc

It’s hard to overstate just how much Patty’s three-point shooting means to the Spurs. Without Bryn Forbes and Marco Belinelli, San Antonio came into the season down two of their best shooters. With the way Patty has been shooting you couldn’t be blamed if you’d hardly noticed.

Currently, Patty ranks third in the league in 3-point percentage and three’s made per 100 possessions. He’s averaging 8.4 three’s per game for the Spurs right now and connecting on an absolutely punishing 57.5 percent of them.

In fairness, those numbers have been inflated by two key games. In the Spurs’ second game of the season, Mills went five of six from behind the arc against the Toronto Raptors to help lock up a tough win. An impressive outing to be sure, but not Patty’s finest work. That would come later.

Coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Utah Jazz and reeling from the news of Derrick White‘s injury, the San Antonio Spurs desperately needed a road win against the LA Clippers on Tuesday night. Thankfully, Patty decided to go nuclear.

https://twitter.com/NBA/status/1346693222572167169

Mills would finish the night with a career-best eight made three-pointers. The 8 for 11 shooting performance did wonders for his percentages.

These kinds of nights aren’t suddenly going to become the norm for Patty but you can bet that we’re going to see quite a few more games like this before the season is done. Mills is playing like a man possessed, which is exactly where the Spurs need him.

Stepping up in White’s absence is going to be a full team effort but the leadership that Patty provides is going to be essential. He’s the longest-tenured member of the team, a pillar of the organization, and an NBA champion. When young guys see a guy like that busting his butt every day they’re going to follow the tone he’s setting.

It’s the same example set by the Big Three. Spurs veterans set the tone, they lead by example, younger players follow, and the whole team is better for it. Patty following in the footsteps of former Spurs greats isn’t surprising but it is a credit to him as a player and as a leader.

It’s funny that in a season that we thought was going to be all about youth and change that one of the most entertaining and impactful players has been the veteran mainstay. But that’s just Patty continuing to get better with age.

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Mills in the final year of his contract but you’ll have to look hard to find a San Antonio Spurs fan who wouldn’t welcome him back. He can be a Spur for as long as he wants, he’s only going to further strengthen what is an already near-ironclad case for having his jersey hung in the rafters when his career is over.

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