Paul Millsap isn’t receiving much scrutiny because his Utah Jazz are currently 17-18, but he is going to be trade bait and potentially a reliable power forward for a legitimate contender.
Millsap is averaging 14.6 PPG and has a 20.24 PER for the Jazz and, while he has done well, his play won’t be enough to get the Jazz anywhere this year. Utah is going to have a tough time ascending the ranks of the strenuous Western Conference and they won’t be contending for a title this year. They probably won’t even make the playoffs, so giving up Millsap is a real possiblility.
The Jazz crave to develop Derrick Favors into a top power forward and this year, Favors is averaging 9.4 points and 6.5 rebounds this year, despite being behind Millsap. Favors has lots of potential and Millsap will be a free agent this summer.
So, to get Favors some playing time in the final half of this season to build on for next season, the Jazz should and probably will deal Millsap.
There are some teams out there lacking a talented power forward for a title run or for future success and Millsap could net lots of young talent or draft picks in return. Unless the Jazz turn on the lights and win a ton of games, there is no reason why Utah shouldn’t ship Millsap out of Salt Lake City. Right now, they aren’t going anywhere, but they could start building for the future.
But who would offer to be trade partners with the Jazz? Well, here are three teams that could require Millsap’s services.
New Orleans Hornets
The Hornets already have a decent power forward in Ryan Anderson, but they could do some shifting around to accommodate Millsap and construct a vastly superior lineup to the one they have now.
Anderson is a great shooter and he can be used as a small forward primarily and a power forward when Millsap is resting. Anderson could be a great rebounding small forward and the Hornets would be stacked down low with Millsap, Anderson and top draft pick Anthony Davis, who is an exceptional rebounder and defender.
If Eric Gordon stays healthy and Greivis Vasquez continues to distribute the ball around and average around nine assists per game, the Hornets could be dangerous and could bring the Chris Paul days back to New Orleans very soon.
I mentioned the possibility of the Hornets trading for Millsap and re-shaping their lineup in another article. By doing this, they would have rebounding and defense down low with shooting and passing up top. New Orleans is 23rd in rebounding, and that’s a mark that they should focus on improving. With Millsap at the 4 and Anderson at the 3, they would definitely get better down low while still possessing an ample amount of talent in the frontcourt.
It’s only a matter of time before the good times roll into the Big Easy, because Davis will only get better, Gordon will get to show what he can do over a long period of time, and Vasquez will continue to distribute the ball. Acquiring Millsap would provide a gigantic amount of assistance to Vasquez, Davis and Anderson, and even if the Hornets needed to surrender draft picks or players, such as Robin Lopez or Austin Rivers, it would be worth it.
Why? Because it could mean that a championship would be coming for the Big Easy.
The Hawks are contending for a spot on top of the Eastern Conference and they are one piece away from contending for a championship. That piece is Paul Millsap.
At power forward, Atlanta’s best bet is Josh Smith and he is 6-9 and able to play the 3 quite well, especially on defense. With Millsap, Horford and Smith in the frontcourt, the Hawks would be much better at rebounding. And, with Louis Williams (who has the fifth-best PER among shooting guards) and Jeff Teague up top, Atlanta would be complete.
Right now, the Eastern Conference is somewhat weak (outside of Miami) and Millsap could boost the Hawks to ultimate contender status. If they execute and continue to get the production that they are getting out of the other core players, Millsap can definitely push them over the top.
Considering how weak Miami is down low (and how weak they would continue to be without acquiring an intimidating rebounding presence), it wouldn’t be crazy to think Atlanta could take them in the playoffs.
Miami currently has a hole at power forward, as Udonis Haslem and Rashard Lewis aren’t very good players. Chris Bosh isn’t exactly a true center, so the Hawks would own the paint with Smith probably matching LeBron James (in terms of rebounds), Millsap owning as a power forward, and Al Horford likely having his way with Bosh.
Atlanta might not get Millsap and even if they do, they might not find playoff success. But he would boost Atlanta from the rebounding doldrums (they are currently 25th in the league) while giving them some help up top and another scoring threat. Even as a half-year rental, Millsap can make his impact felt in Atlanta.
But if he opts to become a Hawk long-term, he could definitely boost Atlanta down low and make them a title contender on a yearly basis.
As I mentioned when talking about a potential trade to Atlanta, the Heat are a very weak team down low. In fact, they are 29th in the NBA in rebounding. It’s hard to win a championship when you are 29th in rebounding.
However, Miami could receive tons of help down low and overall from Millsap. They have Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen up top with LeBron at the 3 and Chris Bosh at the 5, but they have Udonis Haslem and Rashard Lewis as the primary power forwards. Neither is averaging six points this year, so help at the 4 wouldn’t hurt.
Most likely, Miami would have to hang on to Haslem and Lewis, because the Jazz would try and use Favors to develop him for next year while trying to see if he can help them work their way into the playoff hunt.
But Utah doesn’t have much up top, so dealing Norris Cole, a scorer who can play the 1, wouldn’t hurt and he could be packaged with a draft pick or two, or a bench player down low.
Utah would be able to unload Millsap, add some depth in the backcourt and possibly secure some draft picks for the future. Miami would have Millsap and Bosh down low, and Millsap’s 7.6 rebounds (in about 30 minutes per game) would help a lot. With LeBron also being a capable rebounder, averaging almost nine per game, the Heat should be able to work their way up the rebounding ranks.
Millsap doesn’t average a ton of rebounds, but remember that he is sharing time with Favors and Al Jefferson. Millsap will be able to help the Heat while adding another scoring presence down low. The Heat average 103.1 PPG, fourth in the league, but they don’t have anyone who can score consistently at power forward. Millsap would help with that.
A starting lineup of Wade, Allen, James, Millsap and Bosh would have to make for the best lineup in the league, and even a one-year rental of Millsap would be enough. But considering Miami has a hole at power forward, they may be willing to fork over the dough needed for Millsap to stay in South Beach long-term.
Then, he can certainly help Miami rebound, score and win championships.
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