A lack of stability in the backup point guard position was one flaw of the San Antonio Spurs last season, but it appears that the team finally has a consistent player behind Tony Parker. Australian guard Patrick Mills has taken those reigns.
Heads turned to Mills as early as training camp when many noticed he was in much better shape than he was in the 2012-13 season. Thanks to a bet with Boris Diaw, Mills got his body fat percentage to five and lost 12 pounds overall. His new level of fitness became apparent as the six-foot tall guard, already known for his speed, ran with more speed and endurance.
With Mills’ improved shape has come better defense as well, which was also a knock on him in his career before this season. Speedier than ever, he’s able to stay in front of his man and serve as a decent defender, which is better than his previous self.
Patty Mills came into the preseason and delivered better performances than we’ve seen out of him as a Spur, beating out Cory Joseph and Nando De Colo for the backup spot. Since then, it seems as though the latter two have conceded the position to Patty.
Mills has played in all 18 games so far for the Spurs, which is already on pace for an improvement from the 58 games he played last season. He’s averaging five more minutes per game as well, getting them in more than garbage time this year.
His points per game average is up to 7.4 points in 16.3 minutes for the Spurs bench that is fourth in the league in scoring, and he also is sporting a 17.3 PER. Stepping up has been big for the Spurs, as they aim to rest their main players as much as possible, with only Tony Parker averaging at least 30 minutes.
After Marco Belinelli, Mills has been the best three-point shooter in the rotation for the Spurs at 44.9 percent and is among the leaders in the pull up shots player tracking, shooting 71.4 percent at pull up three-pointers and 56.4 percent on overall pull ups. Mills’ speed is also recorded as highest in the league, averaging 4.8 miles per hour which is tied with Toney Douglas who has only played in seven games this season.
Though there’s still 78 percent of the schedule to get through, Mills has already given the Spurs more stability out of a backup point guard than they’ve seen in years. His work ethic and determination shows that how much of a difference the commitment can make.