As I began writing this review, I realized there was only one way to write about Paul Millsap. I decided to write in a way that reflected his style of play: creativity, finesse, and a subtle swagger. So without further ado, here is my first attempt at HawksHoop poetry.
Ode to Trillsap
Nine and a half million dollars
Makes you really want to holler
For the man we know as Paul.
He came in on a bargain
Quiet guy, not much jargon
Was just what we needed in Atlanta
A guy who is better than most
Dastardly good moves in the post
But wait! There’s more! He can shoot.
He could really stretch the floor
Creating space for Hor(ford)*
The season was starting quite well.
But then came the Cavs thriller
Big Al was sent to the chiller
An injury made Millsap the leader
Working together with Teague
They snuck up on the league
Playing not great, but I guess okay? (Good enough considering the injury circumstances)
He set a high bar
And became an All-Star
Something the man he replaced hadn’t done**
The injury bug struck the team again
But this time every big, it seemed, was in pain
The team, as a whole, was in trouble
It came down to the wire
They were all playing tired
As they battled for a playoff spot with the Knicks
Finished the year strong
He couldn’t do no wrong
As he prepped for the top-seeded Pacers
*You probably read that and said, “C’mon man, Al was hurt for most of the year anyway! You crushed my dreams!” To that I say, just wait ’til next year pal. It’s gonna be a good one.
**SUBTLE SMOOVE BURN (yes, I’m still in pain over his departure)
WATER BREAK (sorry, my mouth gets dry when I drop hot poetry)
(Unfortunately, I can’t truly explain his play in poem form. Now for an intermission of statistics and reaction)
Millsap was absolutely phenomenal for the Hawks this season. While his numbers weren’t through the roof, he was a solid 18/8.5 throughout the season. Wait, what am I saying? That’s, like, really good!
An evolution of his game occurred this season as 20% of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc. That’s an 18% jump from his career average in Utah! He became a respected threat from deep, shooting 36% on threes for the season.
Imagine the excitement level we’d give the season if Al Horford hadn’t gotten hurt on December 26th! Many have argued that the offense was finally starting to click at the time of the pectoral tear. Recall that the Hawks were hovering around the 3-4 seed in the East during that time. Given the closeness of the Pacers series, could a healthy Hawks team have gone multiple rounds deep in the playoffs? Who knows? What I do know, is that I’m fading away from Paul Millsap, the star of this piece, so let’s get back to the pride of Monroe, Louisiana, shall we?
Millsap surpised me as being someone the Hawks could lean on to produce highlight plays. As I noted in my Christmas Day article, his dunking ability was second to none on the Hawks this season. He may not pull out the powerful slam that often, but when he does… watch out Jared Sullinger!
That dunk got me just as excited as Josh Smith’s slam over Serge Ibaka a few years back. Coming from a Josh Smith disciple, that’s definitely saying something.
As HawksHoop editor Bo Churney noted in his recap of Jeff Teague’s season, the offense really took a dip after Horf went down because of Teague’s struggles to run the offense with Millsap as his right-hand-man. One thing I noticed about Trillsap this year, was that, some nights, he just wasn’t effective. He shot 40% from the field during the month of January and struggled being the main focus of the offense down low. But boy, oh boy, did he pick up the slack as the year went on.
During the month of April, Millsap shot 52%, averaged eleven boards a game, and also contributed 3.7 assists, his highest average of any month of the season. In the playoffs, Millsap continued his high scoring output, but it was at the expense of his efficiency. He put up 19 points per game and was a monster on the glass (35 total rebounds in Game 6 and 7), but he only shot 40% for the series and his percentage from deep dropped from 36 to 33. In no way was Millsap the sole reason the Hawks lost in seven games to the Indiana Pacers, but, in hindsight, there was some things he could’ve done better (same goes for many players on the Hawks).
I love the way Millsap played this season and I look forward to seeing him paired with Al Horford for a new season. Should be interesting to see how a second training camp together influences their chemistry, which was certainly dynamic at the time of Lil’ Tito’s season-ending injury.
In summary, buy me a ticket for the Trillsap Express, because this train can only get faster from here.
He played with heart
Skill and dedication from the start
What a solid season it was
The man we know as Millsap
Was nothing short of Trillsap
And I can’t wait until he takes the floor next season
Stats courtesy of nba.com/stats, Basketball Reference, and 82games.com