Mills stayed with the Spurs this season after exercising his $1,334,000 player option, and at the time I was a little confused about his decision. There were four point guards on the roster, and it didn't seem like Patty was likely to get much playing time this season, so it made more sense in my head for Patty to try his luck somewhere else. Through his off-season work and excellent play he found his way from being a great locker-room guy and elite towel-waver, to a consistent rotation player on a contending team.
It's clear at this point that Patty Mills is an important part of the Spurs. His off-season conditioning has allowed him to keep his motor going the entire time he is on the floor this season, and that fitness is a big part of his improved game. The guy sure does have a motor; his average on-court speed of 4.7 mph is the highest in the league among players that play at least 10 minutes a game.
The nightly art of Manu Ginobili's assists
Here you go Pounders, in what would be a great career highlight reel for most players, these are just over 40 of Manu's first 56 assists of the season, accompanied by the instrumental to Cantaloop by US3.
Speaking of numbers, Patty is putting up some pretty impressive ones this year. His 58.2% eFG on catch and shoot threes is very good, but his 52.4% eFG on pull-ups is second to only Stephen Curry among players that have taken at least 100 and take at least 3 per game. His 78.6% fg% on close shots (defined by nba.com as a shot taken by a a player on any touch that starts within 12 feet of the basket, excluding drives) is good for fourth in the league among players that have played at least 40 games with at least 18 minutes played per game.
His .174 win shares per 48 minutes is currently the best among all Spurs, and his 19.6 points per 36 minutes is second only to Tony Parker. His PER of 19.4 is up 35% from last year, and his turnover percentage is down 35%. His offensive rating of 115 leads the team, and his +11 net rating is third on the squad behind only Tiago Splitter and Kawhi Leonard's +12.
I think it's obvious that Patty is having a statistically solid season, and that he is now much more that just the good-natured towel-waving dude at the end of the bench. Patty may have played his way into a solid rotation contributor--another offensive weapon that Extraneous G can deploy off of the bench-- but he is still the great teammate that he has always shown himself to be.
Mills is one of the finest teammates I have ever seen play the game. He's always the first one to help someone up off of the ground, even if he was 25 feet from the action -- he'll always run over and offer his hand to help. When he is on the bench he is the first guy up, holstering his towel over his shoulder, and slapping fives. I've never seen Patty act in any other way than as the consummate team guy. Even when he took 26 shots it didn't seem like he was overstepping his game or going against the team. He certainly likes to up his shot-count, and he's found his role within the team and part of that role is playing the gunner when the team is lacking firepower.
Manu Ginobili recently said that he felt happy and proud of Mills. High praise no doubt, and following the Portland game Popovich had this to say about Patty,
He was spectacular, and he's done that for us all year long. He's a good competitor, and a tough cover. He's a real committed player. He came in this year with a changed body that he worked on all summer. Mentally he's making great decisions, and he's been a significant factor for us every game.
So here you go Pounders, Patty highlights from the season accompanied by none other than Mr. Dynamite, Soul Borther Number One, The Godfather of Soul, the incomparable legend himself, James Brown, with his early-funk classic - Papa's Got a Brand New Bag.