Isn’t it a little early to put Paul Millsap on the list? Isn’t he just two years in with the franchise? Sure, but a big part of this is giving Millsap the benefit of the doubt. He just signed a 3-year, $59 million contract with the Hawks, and there are no signs of his game slowing down anytime soon. Millsap is a guy who has been overlooked his whole career. He never got the recognition he really deserved until his tenure with the Hawks began. The Power Forward played his college hoops for Louisiana Tech, where he led the NCAA in rebounding THREE seasons in a row, despite standing at just 6’8″. Despite his collegiate success, Millsap was not selected until the 47th overall selection in the 2006 Draft, by the Utah Jazz.
Millsap showed promise as a rookie and as a reserve player, but never got a chance to start until he assumed Carlos Boozer’s starting spot in 2010. Millsap took full advantage of the opportunity, and has never looked back. He was a terrific starter for the Jazz for three seasons, but was seemingly overlooked by many around the league. Things changed in Summer 2013, when Millsap signed a 2-year, $19 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks. Millsap was seen as the replacement for Josh Smith, but he has been nothing like Josh. I appreciate what the home-grown Smith did for the franchise, but this is a good thing. Millsap has made the All-Star Team in both seasons as a Hawk. He has worked so hard to develop his game, which has seen him add a three-point shot to his arsenal. Though undersized, Millsap is a good rebounder and is the Hawks’ best option to dump the ball to when a bucket is needed. He has bought in to Coach Budenholzer’s system, and it has paid off for him big time. Millsap has averaged 17.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game with the Hawks, and has played the selfless basketball that the team strives on. Many fans may have a sour taste in their mouths due to Millsap’s underwhelming performance in the playoffs, but he played with a nagging shoulder injury that really affected his game.
Sure, the sample size is small, but Millsap was a prolific part of the best Hawks team in franchise history. In three years from now, this won’t even be a conversation. Paul Millsap is one of the best ever to don the Hawks uniform. Hopefully he can add a championship to his list of accolades when all is said and done.