The NBA offseason is in full swing and the rumors are starting to fly, from increased draft buzz to Russell Westbrook wanting out of Houston. Today, we have a new trade rumor about something the Philadelphia 76ers might be considering.
“The Spurs are up to something. League sources say they’re shopping point guard Patty Mills, with teams such as the Bucks and Sixers expressing interest. A deal with Philadelphia would probably bring back Josh Richardson, league sources say. They’re also looking to unload LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan”.
No, Mills isn’t the kind of player that would significantly elevate the Sixers’ backcourt like a Chris Paul or Jrue Holiday, but there’s no doubt he’d be a helpful addition.
In 22.5 minutes per game last season, Mills averaged 11.6 points with a 59.2 True Shooting Percentage, 1.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists (to 0.8 turnovers), and 0.8 steals. Even as he’s aged, the shifty Aussie point guard has maintained solid production and continued to be a useful contributor for the Spurs. He’s still a smart enough backup ball-handler who takes good care of the ball, and while he’s often going to be a defensive weakness with his lack of size (6’1”, 180 pounds), strength and length, he at least knows where to be and he’s fairly persistent at chasing opposing point guards.
First and foremost, it’s Mills’ quality shooting that should appeal to the Sixers. He does most of his damage as a scorer beyond the arc, with three-pointers accounting for 62.8 percent of all his field goal attempts over the last three seasons. He’s been known as a reliable marksman for years with a fast release and quick trigger, shooting 38.9 percent from three on 4.1 attempts per game (7.5 per 36 minutes) for his career. He’s a good catch-and-shoot threat, but can also shoot off movement and a little off the dribble — last season, he made 40.2 percent of his spot-up threes and 34.5 percent of his 2.2 pull-up threes per game. For a team that needs more shooting and a spark of energy from its ball-handlers, Mills would be a helpful piece for the Sixers.
It’s important to note that Josh Richardson is the better player, largely thanks to him being far more impactful and versatile defensively. Richardson should also hold more value to a team that can let him play to his strengths, rather than requiring too much from him offensively.
The intrigue for the Sixers here comes down to what else they could get from San Antonio along with Mills (i.e. what draft compensation — perhaps the Sixers could trade up for the Spurs’ 11th overall pick using their first-rounder and a second-rounder), the fact that Richardson will likely be too expensive to keep when he can enter free agency after next season, and how much better Mills would fit offensively. As a more efficient, confident, diverse shooter, he has the important shooting skills that Richardson lacks.
As the draft approaches, it could be worth keeping an eye on Mills and what the Spurs are up to in general.