Atlanta Hawks: That’s Eastern Conference All-Star Paul Millsap to you!

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It’s been known for several years that Paul Millsap was legit. Unfortunately for him he was paired next to one of the league’s most dominant low-post men in Al Jefferson. Coupled with that was the log-jam that was Utah’s frontcourt rotation with the Jazz getting Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, who the Jazz ultimately decided needed more playing time. Suffice to say, Paul Millsap was widely acknowledged as one of the league’s most underrated players. Most people outside of fans really familiar with the league and fantasy basketball players knew much about him(Sidenote: he’s a fantasy stud but both times I’ve had him I ended up trading him, last year I included him a deal to get Kevin Durant which worked out well but this year I traded him straight up for Monta Ellis which in hindsight is meh). So it’s about time he got his due.

Yesterday it was announced that Paul Millsap was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star reserves; his first time as an All-Star. So far this season he’s averaging 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.2 blocks. Only one other player puts up better numbers across these five categories and that player is DeMarcus Cousins. However, Cousins didn’t make the All-Star cut and it wasn’t widely seen as a snub so much as an indication of how deep the West is. Such is one of the benefits for playing for a team in the East right now.

But playing in the East also should not discredit how well Millsap has played so far. He’s lived up to expectations since coming to Atlanta and has also exceeded them. He was signed with the belief that he would be an important piece for this Hawks team and would be featured more than he was in Utah. He’s taken the opportunity and expanded his game. Even after Horford went down for the season Millsap has shouldered a larger role and continued to perform at the high level he has been producing. He’s averaging career highs in points and assists showing his increased usage in the offense. He’s also stepped out beyond the arc much more than in previous years. A little over halfway through the season he’s already taken 111 shots from three which is nearly triple his previous season total and making them at 37% rate.

The biggest story of the NBA free agency in summer 2013 was without a doubt the Houston Rockets luring Dwight Howard away from the Los Angeles Lakers. By all accounts this was the most impactful signing. But the biggest steal? 2 years and $19 million for Paul Millsap was called a heist at the time and is now looking even more so. It’s unbelievable value for a player of his ability and is a very appealing contract for Hawks if they are looking to make moves on the trade market, which would be kind of surprising but things happen. The Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry might one day star in an NBA adaptation of an Ocean’s movie. Seriously, he was able to get someone to take on Joe Johnson and his industrial-sized anchor of an albatross contract. For that alone he should get a starring role but with Millsap, it’s just icing on the cake.