That body, those hands. The way he pursues rebounds, the 6-foot-8, 258-pound Millsap is easy to picture as a tight end, running down the field and grabbing passes out of the air.
Except he wanted to be on the other end of those deliveries. He would play quarterback or nothing.
"They tried to get me at tight end," Millsap said. "That's not my position."
So he stuck with basketball, meaning he would be watching the Bulldogs play Wednesday night against Boise State, but not as a former Tech football player. Actually, this hoops thing is working out OK for him.
Having established himself with the Jazz in his first two years, he will be very marketable as a free agent after this season. Mix in the contract variables of the two players ahead of him in the Jazz's rotation - forward Carlos Boozer and center Mehmet Okur - and Millsap becomes one of the team's most interesting players in 2008-09 and possibly beyond.
"He's definitely a valuable asset to this team, a guy I hope is around for years to come," said teammate Deron Williams.
He'll play in the NBA a long time, certainly. But with the Jazz? And as a starter, in Utah or elsewhere?
"Of course," Millsap said. "I think every player would see themselves as a starter.
"But you have to wait your time," he said before the Jazz practiced at Taco Bell Arena, across the parking lot from Bronco Stadium. "Time will tell what could happen to me. You just continue to do what got you this far and let everything else play out by itself."
At the moment, Millsap may be the NBA's best bargain. He will make about $800,000 in his third season after being a second-round draft choice and is sure to cash in next summer. Using forward C.J. Miles' four-year, $16 million contract on a similar timetable as a guideline, Millsap should command much more money.
The Jazz hardly could pay Boozer, Okur and Millsap as much as they all might merit. So where Millsap takes his game next season is a big question, as is the issue of where he goes this season.
Williams believes Millsap would become a "20 and 10 guy" as a starter, and there's evidence for that argument. In his only two starts last season, Millsap posted 20 points and nine rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers and 20 points and 13 boards against Phoenix. Yet while he obviously can rebound and score inside, his shooting range is still a question.
It's a confidence issue, making him hesitate to launch shots. "I get out there and just freeze up," he said. "I've been so used to playing down low."
So, like a classic tight end, he tends to lower his head and try to power his way to the basket. Double-teaming prevents that, so coach Jerry Sloan says passing ability is really Millsap's missing skill, not shooting.
"When he shoots in rhythm, I feel very comfortable about that," Sloan said.
Sloan obviously likes having him on the floor, although playing behind Boozer and Okur still may limit Millsap to about 20 minutes a game. The Jazz probably need to play him more for the sake of evaluation, as they decide where he fits into their future plans.
They're already accommodating him, moving up Wednesday afternoon's practice by two hours so he and several teammates could attend Louisiana Tech's football game.
Millsap played quarterback in youth football in Denver before his family moved back to Louisiana. The uncle and older brother who strongly influenced him were basketball players and the small high school Millsap attended in Grambling, La., did not field a football team. So his quarterbacking ambitions were left behind. Besides, he acknowledges, the heat and humidity of Louisiana in August may have kept him off the football field.
In any case, Millsap was back among the Bulldogs for one night in Boise, even if he never became the next Terry Bradshaw at Tech.
Seriously, though: Paul Millsap, college quarterback?
"In a heartbeat," he said.
Millsap in the NBA
Statistics for Paul Millsap's first two NBA seasons:
Year G Min. FG Pts. Reb.
2006-07 82 18.0 .525 6.8 5.2
2007-08 82 20.8 .504 8.1 5.6