Tony Parker may be out with “various ailments” for the “foreseeable future” (credit to Coach Pop for the precise injury update), but Patty Mills has emerged as the number one when the Big 3 aren’t available.
Mills has continued coming off the bench, but he has become an increasingly more consistent option for the Spurs. When the team began to get plagued by injuries beginning in January, Mills’ minutes and workload got a boost, and boy did he maximize on it.
So far in the month of February, Patty Mills is averaging 18.6 points on 51.7% shooting with only 22.3 minutes per game.
Now that looks and sounds pretty impressive, but let’s take it one step farther. There is another player in the league that has been putting up insane numbers as of late, leading to shouts of MVP throughout the league. This player of course is Kevin Durant. So I got to thinking and thanks to the SportVu statistics on NBA.com, I was able to compare these two players who are putting up blistering numbers. If you’re a Patty Mills lover like myself and aren’t sitting down, you might want to take a seat and keep your smelling salts within reach. (click image to enlarge)
Ok, these aren’t the knees weakening, palm sweating stats of pure ecstasy you may have expected, BUT WAIT… there’s more. The lines above are on a strictly per game basis. This is hardly a fair way to compare the production of the two, mainly due to the skew of their minutes. Luckily, there is a much better metric for comparison. Below are the per 100 possessions lines for each player. Prepare your body accordingly.
Now that’s more like it! As you can see, once minutes are virtually taken out of the equation, it would very difficult to decide which player was having an MVP caliber season if the players remained anonymous. Their points are nearly identical, but Mills is more efficient both from inside and outside the arc. Durant may have better numbers in the rebounding and assist categories, but the stat that catches my eye is the turnovers.
Per 100 possessions (roughly 49 minutes of play) Mills is only turning the ball over 1.5 times. I can’t stress enough how impressive this is. For a player who handles the ball on every possession, turnovers are inevitable. Being able to limit that number to virtually one per full game of NBA basketball is un-human. To top it all off, 8 of the 9 games accounted for during February for Mills have been on the road while Durant’s were split evenly.
Now I am by no means calling for Patty Mills to get MVP consideration or belittling Kevin Durant’s talent by comparing him to a role player like Patty Mills. I am, however, bringing to the forefront the importance Mills brings to the Spurs as the playoffs loom on the horizon.
With playoff X factor Gary Neal’s departure in the offseason, the Spurs have been throwing out their role players in all kinds of lineups in the hopes of finding a comparable replacement.
Low and behold, Patty Mills arrives in San Antonio’s most desperate time of the year, when they are the most bruised and broken, when they are needing a late run to coast into the post season.
The majority of the injured players are due back in the next week or two, but don’t expect Mills’ minutes to get cut by any means. He is thriving off his limited roll off the bench, and Coach Popovich knows better than anyone how to keep a good thing going, especially in crunch time.