Leaving something you love is draining. For the last few weeks, I’ve been cutting back on the amount of takeout pizza I get into -- an amount fueled mostly by the dumb Raptors and their inability to win or lose in blowout fashion.
This shift has involved some mental fortitude. On the one side, pizza is great. On the other side, pizza is not great for you. Sure, as a young man who works out most days, with a BMI somewhere between “lol, athlete” and “average desk bozo”, I may not wear the pizza on the outside. But I feel it on the inside. It feels like regret and acid reflux. I must quit, or risk repeating this feeling forever — like a pepperoni-laced Groundhog Day where the alarm clock is mozzarella cheese.
To me, I say: good luck with that!
Meanwhile in Atlanta, Paul Millsap has a pizza-writer relationship with the Atlanta Hawks. Before the season, we were all wondering what the heck those Hawks were up to. They had replaced a rangy Al Horford with a more limited Dwight Howard. They eschewed Jeff Teague for the risk-laden Dennis Schroder. They were, in the grand scheme, embracing chaos in a franchise where chaos was the antithesis to their success. For the previous five seasons, when you played the Hawks, you knew you were getting the Breyers’ vanilla to the Spurs’ Haagen-Daaz (I’m very hungry) — a pass-happy, defensive unit that embraces each other on the basketball floor. With these additions? That didn’t seem like such a sure thing.
The buzz was buzzing, and the idea that Paul Millsap could be on the move seemed to pick up. Millsap is on the second of a 3-year, $60-million deal, putting him squarely in the ideal trade time frame. Atlanta, if they have any inkling that Millsap would leave at the end of next season, would get the best value by moving him before February. Sacramento is in a similar position with DeMarcus Cousins — who we’ve already dreamed about here.
Basketball has happened, though, and the Hawks are... deep sigh, everyone... pretty good. They’re 10-5, second in the East, and doing all those dang things that make Breyers’ ice cream a great option for $5. They lead the league in defensive rating. They’re playing with the fifth-highest pace on offense. Their new additions are reviving their careers — namely big Dwight — and, yes, their old hats are thriving: Millsap leads them with 17.0 points per game. More dismaying for this writer, he’s happy again.
So, yeah... maybe the chances of him coming to Toronto are fading. Maybe he’ll end up a Hawk for life. Maybe I’ll just order a pizza this weekend and break the streak. But this column is about dreaming, damn it! We need to look at the fit.
The Basketball Fit
While his shooting numbers aren’t awesome this year (45% from the field, 31% from deep), Millsap’s got this sneaky way of being a great mid-range player, while not taking a lot of bad mid-range shots. Look at the chart:
It’s kind of nutty to see just how few long twos he’s taking, when compared to the looks from five to ten feet. Just like DeMarre Carroll when he was with the Hawks, Millsap very rarely plays out of character. He’s a forward with soft hands, a good jump shot, and a developed handle — one that sees him doing more in the offense this season.
I don’t need to repeat how good this would look in the Raptors’ offense. Millsap plays like a dialed-up Patrick Patterson — he does everything 2Pat does, only better.
The Emotional Fit
Coming to a team of good soldiers, Millsap would blend in well. He’s been every bit the tacit body in Atlanta, publicly smothering the trade rumour flames this summer and ensuring that the team started the season on solid ground.
He hasn’t been upset that Howard’s earned all the headlines (and the last spot in the starting lineup announcements), while he’s continued to drive his team’s success in less flashy ways. He’s the dream third option for the Raptors because he’s been so willing to work hard without credit in his 10-year career. He’s a veteran without baggage, and with a lot to give to a young team.
Bring me Paul Millsap and do not bring me pizza.
What are your thoughts on Millsap so far this young season? Any chance you see of him heading north?