Why Paul Millsap Deserves More Attention

With everyone's focus on the superstars, Millsap's hot start has gone completely unnoticed.

Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Kevin Durant, Kyle Lowry, Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin.

What do these seven players have in common? Well, they're the only seven players with a higher nERD than Paul Millsap -- ya know, that one guy for the Hawks.

What about LeBron James, Jimmy Butler, Hassan Whiteside, Kevin Love and Draymond Green? What do they have in common? 

It might be hard to believe but each of them have a nERD score lower than that of Millsap's.

All five of these players are having great seasons so far, and so are the other seven I previously mentioned. We've talked about a lot of them, for one reason or another.

We talk about Steph, well, because. We talk about Kawhi because he's making the Spurs his team now. We talk about PG and his unheard of return from a brutal injury.

We talk about KD's continued greatness (when healthy). We talk about skinny Lowry. We talk about Russ being Russ. We talk about Blake's hot start.

And so on and so forth...

But just about no one is talking about Paul Millsap and the career year he's having. I think it's about time -- now! -- to start talking about it because Millsap is a two-way star in this league whether we like it or not.

Let's start with his offense.

On the year, Millsap's averaging a career high 18.4 points -- nothing great but nothing too shabby -- and doing so with an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 50.4% and a True Shooting Percentage of 57.3%. Those numbers don't blow you away, and neither does his 31.3% clip from beyond the arc, but Millsap's game is just that: nothing that will blow you away but something that is very effective.

It's probably, in part, due to the Atlanta Hawks' team culture. As of this moment, six Hawk players average at least 8 shots and 10 points per game. That unselfish style of play is also evidenced by their 25.3 assists per game, which is second only to the Warriors.

Millsap fits into this type of scheme nicely, with 3.6 assists per game of his own (also a career high) and a Usage Percentage of 24.6% -- third on the team. In fact, according to Nylon Calculus, Millsap has been involved in just 514 plays, which, compared to LeBron's 721 is not a superstar's average usage.

His shot selection is a big reason why he's had so much success with so few possessions to himself. Millsap takes over 34% of his shot attempts from inside three feet, but he also knows when and when not to pop out and take a shot from the perimeter. On the over 16% of his shot attempts taken from 10 to 16 feet, Millsap is hitting on 52.2% of them.

At a time when versatility is key, Millsap is a great offensive asset for the Hawks. He not only leads the squad in scoring but also Offensive Win Shares (1.9) and Offensive Box Plus-Minus (3.3) which are two good indicators of the offensive contribution a player provides to his team.

That's not where Millsap's impact stops though. 

He might be even more valuable on the defensive end of the floor, where he's averaging career highs in steals (1.9) and defensive rebounds (6.7) per game. Over the years, Millsap has become known for his quick hands and ability to steal passes down low, so it's no surprise that he's 11th in the league in that category. He hasn't always been known as a great defensive rebounder, however, because of his lack of size, but he's currently tied a career high in Defensive Rebound Percentage (21.9%).

These two features, another sign of Millsap's versatility as a power forward, help to create more possessions for his team while ending more for his team's opponents. He's added 1.1 Defensive Win Shares -- 10th in the league -- over the course of this relatively young season. 

Millsap may not be dominant on either end of the floor, but he is really good on both ends, which makes him a very well-rounded and efficient force to be reckoned with. That's why he ranks among the top 20 in the NBA in every single one of these: Offensive Win Shares, Defensive Win Shares, Win Shares, Win Shares per 48 Minutes, Box Plus-Minus, Value Over Replacement Player and Player Efficiency Rating.

Now doesn't that sound like someone we should be talking a whole lot more about?