Paul Millsap is coming off one of the best seasons in his career. The nine-year veteran averaged 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. These numbers were good enough for him to be selected to his second consecutive All-Star Game. Further, he was a key starter on a surprise Atlanta Hawks team that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals. However, Millsap's numbers and contribution shouldn't be surprising.
Since joining the Hawks two seasons ago, Millsap, or "Trillsap" as he is sometimes lovingly referred to, has worked to develop and improve his offensive game. He extended his shooting range beyond the 3-point line and is connecting on those shots at a high percentage. In the past two seasons, Millsap has shot an average of almost 36 percent from downtown. While he may not be a prolific 3-point shooter, he averages three attempts per game, Millsap did take 23 percent of his shots from behind the arc this season.
Even though he is attempting more threes, Millsap still does the bulk of his scoring within 10 feet of the rim: 59 percent of his shots come from this range and he connects on 53 percent of them.
Yet, there's more to Millsap's game than just scoring. He also puts in work on the glass. He averages 5.9 defensive rebounds per game, grabbing 20 percent of those available, and just fewer than two offensive rebounds.
Perhaps, though, the biggest knock to Millsap is his size. Standing at 6"8', he is significantly shorter than many of the league's other power forwards. To put it into perspective, Chandler Parsons, the Mavericks' starting small forward, is listed as 6"9'. Of course, the NBA is finally entering its post-positional era so Millsap's height isn't as much of a detriment to his success as it may once have been.
Fit with the Mavs
At 30 years old, Millsap, an unrestricted free agent, could be a good player to either come off the bench as a sixth man behind Dirk Nowitzki or replace him in the starting lineup outright. They play a similar offensive style with their ability to stretch the floor. However, Millsap is more prone to forego the midrange jump shots that Nowitzki has made a career of sinking.
The Mavericks were a poor rebounding team this season, so adding Millsap would surely help alleviate those woes if paired with Tyson Chandler or possibly another center. It's almost inconceivable that the Mavs would be as bad at rebounding as they were with two competent rebounders in the frontcourt and a healthy Chandler Parsons.
Despite all of Millsap's potential positives, there are some concerns about his health. (Yes, I buried the lede. What are you gonna do about it?) Just before the Hawks were eliminated from the Eastern Conference finals, Howard Beck of Bleacher Report penned a column in which he mentions the health of the Hawks, most notably Millsap.
The most serious of those is Millsap's sprained right shoulder, which caused him to miss five games in early April and has never fully healed. There are whispers that it might require surgery after the season.
As of now, Millsap is denying that he will require surgery:
Paul Millsap says he does not need surgery on his shoulder, just rest.— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) May 28, 2015
It's a situation to keep an eye on, though. And beyond the possibility of surgery, Millsap's loyalty to the Hawks may make it difficult for Dallas to sign him.
Paul Millsap on his upcoming free agency: "This team is family, this team is close and that will play into the decision."— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) May 27, 2015
Millsap is projected to receive max or near-max offers this summer making his price tag perhaps out of reach for the Mavericks. Nonetheless, Dallas should be on the phone with his agent once free agency begins.