So…Paul Millsap Should Be An All-Star

In a crowded group of quality power forwards in the Western Conference, Paul Millsap has forced his way into the All Star discussion.  His PER has jumped up to 25.5 (5th in the NBA) from 19.8 last year.  Amar at SLC Dunk had a great post on Millsap’s new levels of effectiveness from different spots on the floor.  Millsap has vastly improved his shooting percentages at the rim and from 3 to 9 feet, ranking among the top PFs for each.  I want to take a look at how Millsap gets these opportunities.

Where Millsap Succeeds

This year, Millsap has been excellent at cutting to the hoop or to open areas.  He is averaging a league leading 1.65 points per possession on cuts.  In the video below, Millsap starts the possession under the basket.  Craig Smith and Gerald Wallace are caught watching the action on the ball side as Millsap cuts to the open area in the lane to receive the pass.  Wallace goes for the steal and Millsap finishes with a soft touch.

When you are a 6-7 power forward, you have to be both strong and crafty in order to get the job done at the rim.  In the next video, Millsap flashes into the lane and is able to carve out space underneath the rim to finish the play.

Millsap made his name in college as an excellent rebounder.  After a few less than stellar years, Millsap has improved on his rebounding percentage, particularly on offense.  Where Millsap truly shines is in putting offensive rebounds back in for scores.  This year, putbacks make up 10.5% of his possessions, and he is 3rd in the NBA at converting those into points.  The video below illustrates his tenacity and creativity in finishing.  Millsap goes from the free throw line and gets the rebound between two Mavs players.  That’s rebounding outside of your area.

What don’t you see in these videos?  Turnovers!  Millsap owes much of his improvement this year to his ability to cut down on turnovers.  He has a turnover percentage of 7.8% (down from 11.8% last year) which is better than Nowitzki, Aldridge, Love, and Gasol, to name a few PFs.  Millsap maintains this low turnover rate while keeping an assist rate similar to his peers.

Where to Improve

If Paul Millsap is looking to improve even more, he could stop settling for jumpers outside of the paint. He’s shooting 17% from 10-15 feet, which is probably an anomaly, but it would still be wise to avoid those shots. Many of his misses from the post are some variation of a fadeaway or stepback jumper from afar.  It’s good to keep the defense honest, but don’t rely on it.

Instead, when he finds himself with his defender backing off, he has the quickness and the craftiness to work for a shot in the paint. When he gets to the paint, good things happen. He’s shooting 77% at the rim this season.

Most advanced analysis would tell you that Paul Millsap deserves to be an All Star, but it remains to be seen if he ends up making it over the more heralded PFs of the West. I’m guessing his raw averages of 17 and 9 will cost him a roster spot.


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