The Brooklyn Nets have enough offensive firepower to put them in the championship hunt between Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, but general manager Sean Marks has been looking for a veteran who can come off of the bench and hit some clutch shots. He found his man in former San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills.
Mills, who is currently turning in some excellent performances for Team Australia at the Olympics, has spent the last decade as a backup guard in San Antonio, usually making his mark by nailing some clutch 3-pointers and making enough plays as a distributor to keep the offense flowing.
He was in need of a new team this offseason, though, and Harden’s and Irving’s injury troubles last year crystallized the notion that Brooklyn needed to upgrade at the point guard position on the bench. By renouncing Chris Chiozza and letting Spencer Dinwiddie sign with the Wizards, the Nets freed up enough space for Mills.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski, the Mills and the Nets have agreed on a two-year, $12 million contract. Harden could end up as one of the main benefactors of this deal, as he might have a slight bit of offensive responsibility taken off of his plate.
James Harden should benefit from the Nets signing Patty Mills.
The Nets would frequently start the second quarter of games with Harden on the floor and a host of bench players around him, leading to a heavy dose of the iso-ball strategy he perfected in Houston. While this may work occasionally, it is by no means unstoppable.
Mills, who reportedly picked Brooklyn over the Lakers, could help the Nets avoid leaning on that strategy, as he can run the offense smoothly with any combination of the big three scorers on the bench.
This, in turn, could lead to more lineups where Harden, Durant, and Irving are all on the floor at once while Mills orchestrates the bench mob. He’s done it for years in San Antonio, including on teams laden with veteran stays like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, so he will be very familiar with this role.
Over the last five years, Mills has averaged 10.3 points per game while making 42% of his shots and 38% of his 3-pointers. With enough scrappiness on defense to make an impact, the Nets should feel very pleased with their chances if Mills has to eat up tons of minutes off the bench.
There’s no such thing as having too many veterans with championship experience, and Mills brings with him two Western Conference titles and a 2014 championship. If his performance with Australia is any indication of how he’ll play in Brooklyn, the Nets got a steal.
Jevon Carter, who was acquired from Phoenix in the Landry Shamet deal, will provide some effort and tenacity on the defensive end, and Mills can counteract some substandard offense from Carter by rising and firing from 3-point range.
This might be the best point guard rotation in the league. Harden and Irving will provide the sizzle and scoring, Mills gives them a vet to eat up meaningful minutes, and Carter improves the defense. With Bruce Brown now free to play off-ball full-time, the Nets’ bench has made some huge strides.
Brooklyn is going to be comically over the luxury tax this year, but that didn’t stop Marks from finding the perfect intersection of quality and value at the point guard position in Mills. The Aussie should change how Brooklyn’s bench operates, and that should benefit members of their star trio.