San Antonio Spurs: Should Patty Mills Start In Front Of Tony Parker?

Feb 25, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) reacts during the first half against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) reacts during the first half against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports /

After yet another impressive showing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, it is reasonable to wonder if Patty Mills should be starting at point guard for the San Antonio Spurs

For the last 15 seasons, Tony Parker has started at point guard for the San Antonio Spurs. In his heyday, Parker was known mostly for his blinding speed which he used to blow by defenders on his way to the rim.

Over time, he also developed a deadly floater and reliable mid-range jumper that defenses struggled to guard.

Now at 34 years old, with many NBA and international miles on him, Parker is definitely showing signs of slowing down. Last season, he averaged his lowest scoring average since his rookie year, only putting up 11.9 points per game.

In his defense, he only attempted 9.9 shot attempts per game last season. He most likely did this in an effort to ease LaMarcus Aldridge into the offense. But it is fair to wonder if his best days are behind him.

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Every once in a while he’ll show flashes of his old self by scoring more than 20 points in an occasional game. But he’s simply not what he used to be.

Patty Mills is coming off another stellar performance in the 2016 Rio Olympics. He averaged 21.3 points per game while shooting 47 percent from the field for Australia. Mills is like Parker in the sense that he’s a speedy guard known for his creativity in how he finishes around the rim.

But Mills is clearly a better perimeter scorer than Parker, in addition to being an outstanding positional defender who does a fantastic job at being a pest.

Who can forget his legendary shooting performance in Game 5 of the 2014 NBA Finals where he absolutely torched the Miami Heat?

With Parker potentially fading and the 28-year-old Mills playing his best ball in the middle his prime years, is it time for him to take over the reins from Parker?

It is certainly a tempting proposition. Mills would certainly inject more excitement and versatility into the Spurs’ starting five, especially given how fearless he is pulling from downtown.

He has worked hard for everything he has gotten in his career and maybe it’s time he gets rewarded with a starting position.

On the other hand, there is something to be said about continuity and team chemistry. Surprisingly, Parker actually had a higher PER than Mills last season.

And although Parker is not the three-ball threat that Mills is, his penetrating ability really opens up the court for the rest of his teammates.

The main reason why Mills has performed so well during the last two Olympics is because he’s the focal point of Australia’s offense.

He is basically a lesser version of Allen Iverson, an undersized 2-guard who has a “shoot-first” mentality, although he definitely plays more minutes at the point guard spot than Iverson ever did.

If Mills was in the starting five for the Spurs, he would be taking away shots from Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green, and Kawhi Leonard. It’s actually in his best interests to keep coming off the bench.

After all, the team lost considerable depth after David West left for the Golden State Warriors, and they were forced to trade Boris Diaw to make room for Gasol.

Their bench most likely won’t be as good as it was during the last two years, which should mean more shots for Mills with the second unit.

Perhaps the biggest reason why Parker should remain the starter is due to his morale. If he was benched for Mills, it would be a huge blow to his confidence.

Keeping him as the starting point guard is the best decision because of his familiarity with the offense and his willingness to get his teammates involved early in the game.

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Mills definitely has a case to be a starter in this league. But as long as he’s on the Spurs and still OK with coming off the bench, the Spurs should let Parker continue to start for them.