There are whispers about Paul Millsap.
That he’s confused.
All over the map
Paul Millsap’s past 10 games, during which he’s shot 40%:
Opponent Pts Reb
Washington 6 10
Houston 10 8
Sacramento 10 1
Sacramento 13 8
Denver 5 5
New Orleans 16 8
Oklahoma City 13 6
Houston 12 11
Clippers 13 8
Orlando 22 4
That he’s unhappy with his role.
That he’s not getting enough playing time.
That he’s not as effective as he once was.
And the whispers, some of them, are true.
"I’m human," he said after Wednesday night’s win over Orlando, a game during which he scored more than 20 points for the first time in forever. "Of course frustration is there. You’re going to get frustrated at times. But it’s what you do after that. My teammates give me confidence. I’ve just got to continue to stay positive and stay with it and hope it turns around."
A few things about Millsap that wouldn’t surprise anyone who has paid attention over his seven seasons here:
• The man is going to sweat through his work.
• The man is not going to cry and pout.
• The man is a grown man.
"Paul’s fine," said Marvin Williams. "He’s the ultimate pro. He shows up when his team needs him. After three losses, our team needed him tonight."
In the win over the Magic, Millsap redirected a couple of negative trends. He played heavy minutes, getting just short of 39. And he was efficient in his scoring, making eight of 14 shots.
"I felt comfortable out there," he said. "When you’re comfortable, you’re confident. As long as I’m comfortable and confident, things are going to go my way."
But things haven’t completely gone Millsap’s way over stretches. His role has switched from power forward, his preferred spot, to small forward and back. His scoring has dropped from a 17.3 average two years ago to 14.3. His shooting percentage, which over his career sits at 52 percent, is at 46. In the past 10 games, it’s at 40 percent. His minutes have dropped, from more than 34 a game two seasons ago to 31 now. He never left the bench in the fourth quarter of a couple of recent games. And the major reason he’s suddenly getting more opportunity is because Derrick Favors is hurt.
"You go in the game when your name is called," he said. "You go out of the game when your name is called."
It’s more complicated than just that, especially for a veteran player in a contract year, and Millsap came clean when he was pressed further about wanting more time.
"What competitor doesn’t?" he said. "But it doesn’t happen like that all the time. You have to be patient and see what happens."
This is where we read between the lines and listen to a few private whispers. Millsap has been uncertain about his role, and he knows Favors is coming for his job. That’s exacted a toll.
As Millsap said, he’s only human. He said he’s put his contract status out of his mind: "I haven’t thought about it. That hasn’t been the reason for anything."
You have to wonder.Next Page >
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