Here’s what I don’t get: While you can’t make it five minutes into a Ricky Rubio argument without somebody supporting his case with the concept that he “held his own” against grown men overseas and against Team USA in the Olympics, Patrick Mills gets zero credit for not just holding his own, but putting in serious work against the Redeem Team and other international juggernauts.
In almost every major test he’s faced, Mills has proven himself. As the focal point of each NCAA defense that went against his Saint Mary’s squad this year, the sophomore Mills averaged 18.4 points on 40% from the field and 85% at the line, plus 2.2 steals per game. Mills got the better of Stephen Curry in their NIT matchup, putting up 23 points and 10 dimes in a blowout win. Before that he dropped 27 points in an NIT win over Washington State, and despite missing nine games during the season due to injury, still clocked 10 games of 20-plus points.
Then there’s the FIBA resume. In two games against Team USA last summer (one exhibition, one in the Olympics), Mills was the best player on the court for Australia, and that includes Andrew Bogut. He scored 20 against the Americans in Beijing, giving Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Jason Kidd problems. In his two outings against the U.S., Mills went for a total of 33 points, three assists and three steals. In Rubio’s two games against the U.S. last summer, he had 14 points, six dimes and six steals. Mills also dropped 22 points against Argentina and its NBA-laden roster, and “held his own” against Russia and Lithuania during the Olympic tournament.
And yet, while Rubio stays in the top five of every draft board, Mills is actually slipping. Pegged as a 20-to-25 guy in the first round a couple weeks ago, the latest NBADraft.net mock has him falling into the second round, going after guys like Toney Douglas, Darren Collison and Dionte Christmas.
Why? If this were five years ago, I’d get it: Mills is small (6-foot, 180 pounds), he’s a ‘tweener of a PG/SG, and he plays for a mid-major. Sure, he puts up points, but so did Troy Bell and A.J. Guyton and Steve Logan, and they all played at big-time programs.
But the bad rap for ‘tweeners is supposedly dead. Guys like Randy Foye, Gilbert Arenas, Nate Robinson, Ben Gordon and even Dwyane Wade have dispelled the myth that small guards who aren’t pure PG’s have no place in the League. And with the way the NBA game is going, any team can find space for a guy who is quick, skilled and can put the ball in the basket.
Mills has first-round talent. I really like him for the Hornets at #21 as CP’s backup (the next Jannero Pargo), but I can also see him with Phoenix at #14, Atlanta at #19, and Dallas at #22, among others.
But why are we even talking about teams in that range? For somebody whose international track record is just as (if not more) impressive than Rubio’s, and who has a solid body of college work on top of that, Patty Mills should be higher on everyone’s board. Or perhaps Rubio should be lower.
Do you think Mills will be an impact player in the NBA?