Paul Millsap is cut from the same cloth as Draymond Green: a do-it-all undersized big man with few, if any, holes.
Millsap came into the league as a undersized rebounding specialist and emerged over the last few seasons as one of the game’s best frontcourt defenders. The direction of the modern game suits him; Millsap’s quick feet make him an easy switch between wings and bigs and a decent option to step up against a point guard in a pinch. The list of players who could really work Millsap over is limited to a few of the truly elite. Everyone else is within his defensive range—the quick hands, the smart positioning, the effort contests. Millsap works his ass off to play both bigger and smaller than he is, depending on his situation. Atlanta needed rim protection so Millsap did what he could to provide it. Some other team with different needs might move Millsap over to guard small forwards more regularly. What matters is the option—that a big would be mobile and skilled enough to make himself a viable a candidate for so many different defensive roles. Millsap’s game is a riff on the same principles that make Draymond Green so damn effective. It’s an interesting comparison: Green is a slightly better defender and passer but Millsap is the more capable scorer and rebounder. There are situations in which one would clearly make more sense than the other, but in a general sense they share an otherwise unique corner of the NBA landscape. Bigs who make plays, spread the floor, and defend well across multiple positions are catalyzing the best teams in the league. Millsap is that sort—complete with a capable handle and effective post game that help him fill out the box score. (Last year: No. 32)
+ Talented, fluid passer who can make smart reads on the move
+ Great hands: In the Kawhi Leonard range in steal %
– Had a down shooting season (31.9%) from the three-point line, couldn’t punish defenses for leaving him
– In good, crowded company in that he can’t really guard LeBron James