With various frontcourt stars withdrawing their names from consideration for the USA national basketball team, Atlanta Hawks all-star Paul Millsap has gotten his name put up as a candidate for a roster spot in the FIBA World Cup.
“Paul has prior experience at the National Team level having participated in the 2009 National Team mini-camp and offers us veteran inside player who possesses attributes that can be beneficial for us,” said USA National Basketball team director Jerry Colangelo.
Millsap, 29, is not the only member of the Hawks getting looked at for a spot on the roster. Teammate Kyle Korver is also receiving consideration.
Neither Millsap, nor Korver were seen as potential members of team USA. Both lacking “star power” and usual athleticism that Team USA necessitates, they were seen as surplus in NBA fans minds, but Team USA knows what they are doing.
While the NBA plays an “up-and-down” style, forcing players to use more athletic abilities instead of fundamentals, international basketball plays a methodical and physical brand of basketball, forcing players to use their basketball IQ and focus less on athleticism; two things that Millsap and Korver excel at.
Millsap, a grizzled NBA veteran, would surely help the team at the power forward spot. After Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love decided to withdraw because of the on-going trade discussions, the front court was left depleted and in need of a guy who can stretch the floor.
Insert Paul Millsap, a forward who can play multiple international positions and excels inside (43.9% from the field on post up plays) and outside (39.8% from the field on spot up jump shots). As a player in FIBA, Millsap would be ran off more screens to create open jump shots, where he averaged 43.1% from the field. (via MySynergySports) This would be more effective than having the sole other power forward, Kenneth Faried, posting up on the block alongside another back-to-the-basket oriented center like Andre Drummond, DeMarcus Cousins or Anthony Davis (who is working on his outside jump shot, but not there yet) where they would clog the lane.
As a defender, Millsap also brings a unique skillset to the table. As you move into the European countries, big men become more frail and perimeter oriented. Although that may not sound like an ideal match up to have the 253 pound Millsap running around the perimeter, Millsap defends well against spot up shooters and pick and roll men. On spot ups, Paul renders opponents to shoot 39.1% from the field. Against pick and roll men, Millsap forces 43.8% from the field. (via MySynergySports) Millsap was also a dynamic team defender for the Hawks last season, ranking in the top 10 in steals at 1.7 per game.
Since there is a copious need for power forwards and Paul Millsap fits the bill to play in FIBA, it would be foolish and regrettable if Coach Krzyzewski and team USA leave him off of the final roster.
Now the second Atlanta Hawk, Kyle Korver. On the team for obvious reasons: his defense, athletic ability, shooting. The sharpshooter adds spacing to the floor with a team full of slashing guards. Korver led the league in both 3-point shooting (47.2%) and true-shooting percentage (65.3%) last season. As for other parts of his game, you really won’t get much. He did average three assists and four rebounds last year, but will not blow you away with his play making or glass crashing.
On the defensive end, he provides very little for Team USA. Although he can hold his own against many players, Korver struggles in isolations against bigger players and against dynamic pick-and-roll ball handlers. When against an isolation, Korver allows 45.1% of the shots go in. Against pick and roll ball handlers he allows 45.3% of shots to go in, both of which rank in the middle-of-the-pack in the NBA. (via MySynergySports)
I wouldn’t be shocked if Korver is left off the squad, but he would be a bonus for a team in need of floor spacing. In all, the Hawks should be ecstatic that two of their players are being considered at such a high level.