The San Antonio Spurs ended another successful annual Rodeo Road Trip this weekend.
However, unlike previous years...the Spurs got a tremendous boost from an unexpected source, the 25-year-old Austrailian back-up point guard, Patrick Mills.
Patty, the shortest player on the roster at 5ft 11 inches, has famously been the biggest bench cheerleader for the Spurs during the last few seasons he has been on the team. He even has an instructional video of how to cheer on his team using his favorite cheering tool...the white towel!
The Various Towel Waves of Patty Mills (via DafTacoustics)
After the all-star game, the Spurs Tony Parker has been sidelined indefinitely by coach Pop for "body soreness".
Thus, Patty has been asked to translate his high energy cheering to the court.
He has averaged an impressive 20 points a game the last six games, shooting over 50% from the field. More impressively, he has led the Spurs in two heroic fourth quarter performances against the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trailblazers.
If you are like me and are wondering where this is coming from, Coach Pop has said that Patty is finally learning to make smarter decisions and take better shots. We all know Patty is not afraid to take the big shot, much like former Spurs guard Gary Neal, who was traded off last season to the Milwaukee Bucks...but has had a poor season to date.
Comparisons are also being made to Tony Parker.
Sure, I can see the quickness and the jump shot, and Parker was also a little slow to impress Coach Pop at the beginning of his career. Parker was once in major trade talks for Jason Kidd...boy would that have been a mistake. Now, Parker has had earned three NBA championships along with a Finals MVP.
So what is Patty worth to the Spurs? Well right now it's $1.13 million a year.
However his contract ends this year. Decisions need to be made.
The Spurs have traded away De Colo, another back-up point guard, perhaps showing their faith in Patty as the long term backup to Parker.
In my opinion, Patty is a great back-up point guard at the moment with a high ceiling and is improving on a game to game basis. He is reportedly happy in San Antonio and has said he would like to stay, but of course this will cost the Spurs more money to extend his contract. The price? I am not sure...but it should be more than Matt Bonner who is getting close to $4 million.
These stretch of high performances from Patty is turning out to make this his "break-out" season for the Spurs and for his entire career.
In the end, the Spurs have raised another unknown budding international rising star for the league, surprise surprise.