Kyrie Irving might be out of the picture for the foreseeable future, but Patty Mills is definitely coming into his own as the Nets’ 3rd option.
The whole Kyrie Irving hoopla dominated the Nets’ news cycles at the start of the season. It reared its head once again when they came up short at Barclays Center against the Warriors. But all of those conversations aside, the Nets must like where they find themselves.
True, they aren’t anywhere close to their best – individually or as a team. But at the top seed of the East, 14-5 through the first 5 weeks, its hard to be too pessimistic.
They’ve definitely got some ways to go before they truly start clicking into offensive gear. Kevin Durant has been their ever-present scoring option as perhaps the greatest at this skill this side of Michael Jordan, but James Harden has had more of an adjustment period.
The Beard is now humming at about 90% of the form he displayed through 44 games. The rest of the Nets offense trends as the 2018 MVP guides them. And the one thing he’s incorporated into his game through all his Rockets years was his ability to generate open looks from 3.
Harden is second in the league currently at 9.2 dimes per game, and trending up. And he has Patty Mills to thank for quite a few of those every game.
NBA cumulative plus-minus leaders so far this season:
1. Curry +251
2. Giannis +167
3. D’Angelo Russell (!) +145
4. GP2 (!!!) +142
T5. Mikal Bridges +139
T5. Patty Mills +139
— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) November 26, 2021
Patty Mills leads the NBA in 3-point percentage. Can the Nets do without Kyrie Irving?
The Boomers legend has truly been on one since the NBA playoffs ended. He’s missed the stage for the past 2 years on a mediocre Spurs roster. He’s now fully locked in for the second championship run of his career.
And he’s making the very best of the opportunities he’s had. Like every shooter in the league, Mills has his off days every now and then. But maintaining a 50.4 3-point percentage through 19 games is no mean feat.
We’ve always known that he’s been an excellent shooter, and he’s displayed his ability as a shot creator for himself. While he’s clearly not on Kyrie Irving’s level, his shot creation allows him to lead second units effectively.
It’s also telling that the Brooklyn Nets have 2 of the top-5 shooters in the league right now – Patty is joined by Joe Harris at 46.3%. It’s clear that this added spacing should translate to playoff dominance – at least in the first couple of rounds.
The question that remains is whether or not they can get past the Bucks or the Warriors of the world. These are 2 teams with an unstoppable offensive weapon and a championship-caliber defense.
The Nets might have the offense at the moment, but they’ll clearly not be stopping Giannis or Steph – Embiid, for that matter. They have to outshoot whoever they face in the playoffs. And that is something we’ll learn more about with today’s game against the Phoenix Suns.