Patty Mills might seem like a minor addition at first glance, but he is going to play a major role for the Brooklyn Nets.
Patty Mills is on the back nine of his NBA career, but he still has plenty of time and basketball left before he crosses that river into retirement. He’s looking to win a championship with the Brooklyn Nets before he does.
And Mills is going to be much more than a ring chaser clapping it up at the end of the bench. No, Mills is going to be an integral part of this roster, mainly off the bench, but he may be called into a few spot starts as the Nets cruise through the regular season.
Brooklyn’s signing of Mills flew under the radar this offseason, but teams are going to have to pay close attention to the Boomer. The Nets should be able to emphasize his strengths while simultaneously downplaying his weaknesses.
Running the pick-and-roll isn’t a “weakness” for Mills, but it’s certainly not a strength either. Last year for the Spurs, Mills finished in the 52nd percentile for pick-and-roll ballhandlers, averaging 0.86 points per possession on that playtype per NBA.com.
Not great, but not bad.
Mills won’t be asked to be a major pick-and-roll guy in Brooklyn. The Nets ran fewer pick-and-rolls than the Spurs did in 2020-21 and Brooklyn has better options with Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant.
Taking some of the pick-and-roll responsibility off of Patty’s plate means he can hone in on his strengths.
Spot Up Threat
With Irving, Harden, and Durant, the Nets are a perfect team for elite spot-up shooters. Although Mills only shot 37.5% from deep last year, he had a 59.7% effective field goal percentage off of spot ups.
Mills can expect to have a ton of space to spot up on the perimeter next year. We can look to Joe Harris for proof of this. Harris had an eFG% of 69.1% and was in the 96th percentile among spot up shooters in the regular season.
Now, let’s be clear, Mills is not the automatic three-point shooter that Harris has developed into over the last few years. However, Mills gives Brooklyn insurance as another shooter in the event that Harris pulls another Harry Houdini disappearing act in the playoffs.
Off Screen Genius
This dovetails into the conversation about Mills as a spot up shooter. Simply put, Mills is a dynamic threat at all times on the perimeter. His gravity as a shooter, and more specifically when he’s running off of screens, will help to space the floor for the big three.
How effective was Mills coming off of screens last year? He averaged a whopping 1.41 points per possession off screens last year, which was enough to place him in the 93rd percentile overall in the NBA.
Believe it or not, this is an area where Mills is more effective than Harris. Again, he’s not the pure shooter that Harris is, but he brings a slightly different dynamic to this offense.
Brooklyn has the star power needed to win a championship. The Nets have the best big three in basketball (there is an argument for the Lakers as well). Filling in the gaps around Durant, Harden, and Irving was the priority this offseason.
Mills is an important puzzle piece who fits this roster almost perfectly. Although he might not put up eye-popping numbers alongside three superstar talents, he is going to be one of the most important players wearing black and white next year.