It’s rare that signing with the Atlanta Hawks is a major positive step in an NBA player’s career, but a case can be made that Paul Millsap signing a two-year, $19 million deal with the team in July was just that. He will now move out of the crowded frontcourt of the Utah Jazz and into a prominent role for the Hawks as their clear-cut starting power forward, so his downward trend in minutes (30.4 per game last season) is almost certain to reverse itself this year.
Millsap was productive last season for the Jazz, averaging 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.3 steals and one blocked shot per game in 78 games played (all starts), but the points and rebound averages were his lowest of his last three seasons in Utah. Sometimes a player just needs a change of scenery, and it appears the Jazz were not all that interested in retaining Millsap and moving to a team with a clear primary role should be a boon to his fantasy stock.
With Millsap’s decline in playing time (about four minutes per game from 2010-2011 to last season) came a drop in field goal percentage (49 percent last year, 53.1 percent in 2010-2011) and advanced statistics show an overall drop in his efficiency last season. His assists per game average last year was a career-high, but that was helped by an assist percentage of 14.5 that may stand as a career outlier or be the start of a trend.
I think Millsap has an excellent chance to exceed his career-bests in points (17.3) and rebounds (8.8) per game this season. and those averages are a solid baseline projection for him. His shooting percentages will not deplete his value in leagues that use those categories, and he should be a solid supplemental contributor in assists, steals and blocks as well.
Note: Per Basketball Reference.com, assist percentage is an estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted while on the floor.