There may not be another player on the Nets roster that deserves a week off than Patty Mills. While Mills will be the only Nets player participating in any NBA All-Star festivities this weekend, when he attempts to win the three-point shootout three years after Joe Harris did, the near week off should do him a lot of good
Mills has been the most steady presence on the court in a Nets uniform this season. Of Brooklyn’s 58 games this year, the sharpshooter has appeared in all but one, logging heavy minutes in a majority of those games.
Going into Thursday’s game against the Washington Wizards, which will be the Nets final game before the break, Mills has averaged 13.2 points per game on 42% shoot from the field and 41% from three. It has to be noted that he has averaged a career-high in minutes this season with 31.1 minutes per game when his career-high before was 25.7 in 2017 with the Spurs.
While Mills has contributed needed minutes for the Nets, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the heavy workload has impacted his shooting recently.
Mills will never say he is playing too much because he is a competitor and a true professional, but the shooting percentages through the months show a very telling story. His field goal percentage has gone from 46.3% in November to 31.9% in February, with a decline every month. Mills’ three-point percentage has gone from 51% in October to 34% in February, with declines in all but one month in that timeframe.
The declines can be attributed to several factors.
Anyone that has played basketball in their life knows shooting is all about having your legs underneath you. Without that, you frequently come up short on your shots. Besides having tired legs, Mill’s quality of looks has not been as easy with so many players out due to injury. Teams have been selling out on him as he has been the only shooter on the court for a majority of the season.
Finally, Mills has been asked to do a lot more besides just being a catch-and-shoot type player. He has had to put the ball on the floor and create for his teammates.
Things should start to come easier now that Seth Curry has joined the Nets and when Brooklyn gets Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons into the lineup to draw the attention of the opposition’s defense.
It isn’t a secret that Mills has been and will continue to be crucial for any success that the Nets want to achieve this season. Signing with Brooklyn in the summer on a two-year, $12,074,500 contract, the Nets not only got a tremendous player, but an amazing leader for a bargain.
And for the Nets to turn their season around and march towards the postseason in a good spot, it needs to be a point of emphasis for Steve Nash and the Nets coaching staff to cut Mills’ minutes when players come back from injury. Brooklyn will need his marksmanship in the playoffs.