Recapping the 2017/18 season: How Patty Mills’ growth spurred San Antonio’s playoffs run

Apr 1, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) celebrates the lead over the Houston Rockets at the AT&T Center. San Antonio won 100-83. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs didn’t quite have the season they were hoping for, but Patty Mills was still an essential part of yet another run to the playoffs, even though they had to do it without superstar Kawhi Leonard.

Starter?

It was unclear heading into 2017/18, what role Mills would take on. Tony Parker’s days starting at the point and dominating the minutes for that position seemed to be over, and the Aussie appeared as though he could step into the vacated spot.

How 2017/18 stacked up

Mills not only played the full 82 games for the first time, and also started the most games of his career this season (36), he also averaged a career-high in minutes per game (25.7). Dejounte Murray did start more games, but averaged fewer minutes than the Australian.

Although the rest of Mills’ numbers did not follow the rise his minutes did, he still had a great season in regards to his output and leadership. For just the third time in his career, he averaged double-digits in scoring (10ppg) and managed to look after the ball incredibly well.

One other thing that was noticeable, was Mills’ ability to get to the line. He attempted 118 free throws, which is 36 more than any other year. He also managed to draw more fouls per game than any other season.

Mills also had a great playoff series. In the five games against the Warriors, he averaged over 32 minutes and scored 13.4 points per game. His best output of the series came in Game 4, when he scored 21 points and dished out three assists.

However, there was more than just stats to the Aussie point guard’s season. He showed a serious level of maturity running the offence and could have easily led the team at the point for the entire season. He also showed his signature hustle and heart on defence.

Best of the Best

Patty Mills’ best game of the season came in a 100-95 win over Brooklyn.

The Boomer came out, just after San Antonio had announced Kawhi Leonard would be out indefinitely and went for 25 points in 26 minutes off the bench.

Mills went an incredible 7/8 from deep and also managed three steals and two assists. Those seven triples were a career-high and came when the game was on the line.

So…

It was a good season for Patty Mills. He didn’t set the world on fire in regards to his number, but in typical Patty fashion, he continued to grow and played his role brilliantly. The Spurs had a topsy-turvy season but Mills played a massive role in getting them to the playoffs without Kawhi Leonard.

Like the rest of the NBA, 2018/19 has an element of the unknown for Mills. The makeup of the Spurs could be very different, with Kawhi Leonard potentially moving on and San Antonio maybe even potentially being an option for LeBron James, given his affection for coach Popovich. Either way, you can bet that Mills will do whatever he needs for his team and will excel in his role, just like he has done his entire NBA career.

Matt Hickey

Written by

Ringwood Hawks forward, guitarist/singer/songwriter, and contributor to The Pick and Roll.

1 Response

  1. Robert Smith says:

    Mills was 2nd on Spurs for total minutes & points, 3rd in assists (after Gasol & Murray).
    In the playoffs vs GSW he was the only thing going on offence except for Aldridge.
    In each of the last 3 years he has played at least 80 games.
    Since he has 2 years left on his contract plus a player option year & $11 to $12m salary some in the fan base say he is a trade asset – this is hard for me to figure but who knows.

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