With the San Antonio Spurs starters struggling against the plucky Minnesota Timberwolves, they needed a Patty Mills injection to help get them over the line 101-95.
Mills posted 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting (1-of-4 from 3-point), along with 4 assists and a game high plus/minus of +23 in his 19 energetic minutes off the bench.
Mills with his Spurs bench unit were as fun to watch as they were effective. They played with more pace and cohesion than the starters and changed deficits into leads on numerous occasions.
His game today was further proof of Mills’ improvement as both a player and a point guard.
In his NBA career prior to this season, Mills has been more of an undersized shooting guard, heavily reliant on hitting shots to make an offensive impact.
He was fortunate to find a niche in San Antonio playing next to Manu Ginobili who covered up Mills’ weakness as a distributor and allowed him to focus on his strength of getting buckets.
This season Mills has greatly improved as a passer, averaging career highs in assists at 2.5 per game and assist ratio (the number of his possessions which end in an assist) at 22.6%,
While Mills’ shooting has not returned to his level it was two seasons ago, he told Fairfax Media he is pleased with his performance this season due to becoming to a more complete player.
I think I’m happy with the way I’ve been playing all season, I feel I’ve made vast improvements as a player and point guard.
So to celebrate his improved point play, I thought we have a look at some of his assists work against the Timberwolves.
Three of his four assists were to Ginobili, which is unsurprising considering their chemistry and he is also the player Mills passes to the most.
There was the whip-pass to the corner:
The quick up-court pass for the transition 3:
The inbound assist:
His other assists we’ll just call the ‘pop the ball over the defense to the giant‘:
Now, he can just get his shot back to those lofty heights of 13-14 to compliment his improved point play then look out!