Paul Millsap was the best offseason signing by any team. Boom! I said it. Yes, move over Dwight Howard, you were not the best free agent acquisition this offseason. When you consider the price that the Atlanta Hawks paid for the productive power forward, this instantly makes the signing of Millsap a great one. The Hawks only had to pay Millsap $19 million over two years, which is less than what I thought he would get after leaving the Utah Jazz. That’s a huge difference in the price in comparison to the $87.6 million over four years that the Houston Rockets had to pay for Howard. Talk about a steal.
Just look at Millsap’s production with the Jazz. During his years there, he averaged 12.6 points and seven rebounds per game. This doesn’t sound that significant until you take away his first two years with the Jazz in which he only averaged 6.8 points as a rookie and 8.1 points per game in his sophomore campaign. Following those years, Millsap’s numbers took off. In the first year, Millsap saw increased minutes; he averaged 13.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. Those are really good numbers for a guy who wasn’t the No. 1 option on the team. Now, the numbers decreased a little the next season, but Millsap did not see as many minutes as the season before.
However, the 2010-11 and the 2011-12 seasons were a different story. Millsap reached new heights in the 2010-11 season when he averaged a career high in points at 17.3 points per game and established himself as a legitimate threat in the post. In 2011-12, Millsap polished his game to be a dominant force on both ends of the court. Millsap could always score, but where he doesn’t get credit enough is his rebounding. During this season, he still managed to average 16.6 points per game while increasing his rebounding to a career high 8.8 rebounds per game. Those two seasons were all the Hawks needed to see.
The Jazz had other plans for Millsap the following season. Due to their emergence of young talent, the Jazz wanted to see increased minutes for two of their young big men, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. The result was decreased minutes and production for Millsap. Millsap in a decreased role, still managed to average 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, which is not that bad. The Hawks saw the obvious with Millsap. He’s a guy that, when given the minutes in a more important role, will produce at a high level. That has been illustrated by his play this season for the Hawks.
With the Hawks, Millsap has been terrific at the power forward position. Having started every game this year besides one, he has really helped this Hawks team produce at a high level on both offense and defense. This year, Millsap is averaging 16.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, providing an excellent third option for the Hawks behind Jeff Teague and Al Horford. His presence on the court has made the difference for the Hawks this season; without signing Millsap, I highly doubt they would be in their current position.
With Millsap, the Hawks are legitimate contenders to make the playoffs in the East. Given the price that Atlanta paid for Millsap’s production too, he is by far the best signing of the offseason.