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Is Paul Millsap Daryl Morey's free agent target?

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by mike_lu, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. mike_lu

    mike_lu Member

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    Be ware - another long post.

    Been thinking about which PF in the league we could realistically trade for (we're under the salary cap) or sign as a FA.

    Then I got thinking on the ideal PF for the Rockets, assuming the rest of our starting 5 remains Lin, Harden, Parsons and Asik, and the coaching philosophy (especially on offense) stays the same.

    For coaching philosophy, let’s look at the role our own PFs are playing this year, within the offense.

    This year, the most noticeable development we’ve seen in Marcus Morris and 2Pat is they’re both trying to develop that corner 3pt shot (with varying degrees of success). 2Pat is shooting 30% on 3ptFG on 1.7 3ptFGA (vs 0.2 3ptFGA) last year, and Marcus Morris 38% on 3ptFG on 3.2 3ptFGA. The sample size on T Jone is too small, but he’s taking 1 3pt shot per game, and we know DMo has a 3pt shot (albeit inconsistent). I think that's clearly a coaching direction/decision.

    Remember, these are the 6-8/6-9 PFs we’ve drafted the past 3 years (excluding White, who’s niche is his passing as a big man). All have the ability to develop a 3pt shot, and that’s the offense we’re playing.

    Coincidence? I think not.

    And it occurred with the end of Rick Adelman’s motion/Princeton offense at the Rockets, which involved little corner 3pt shooting by our PFs. When Morey gave Les his final two candidates for the coaches, would you not think he either got a coach that gave him input into the type of offense to run, or a coach that believed in his offensive (and defensive) philosophies?

    Still think the 3-pt shooting PF is a coincidence? We’ve even read the front office asking Scola to develop a 3pt shot over the offseason, before he was amnestied in an attempt to get Howard (or decision to go young).

    ----------------------
    Let’s take a look around the league, and see how many serious 3pt shooting PFs there are. The only players that consistently shoot a high percentage (>35%) and are worth >$8M/yr are Dirk, Kevin Love, Ryan Anderson, Ersan Ilyasova, Gallinari, and Bargnani (considering him as a PF, not C), plus the recent SF converts LBJ and Carmelo. And if Ilyasova, Gallinari and Bargnani were not such poor rebounders/defenders for their position, they would be near if not max contract players also. But what they are, are players that score much more than their ability would suggest, if they did not have that 3-pt shot to open up their game.

    And when we look at LBJ and Carmelo, we know they have not been consistently great 3pt shooting SFs historically (around 32-33%), but playing at the PF spot, they are shooting extremely well (LBJ at 44% and Carmelo at 38% this season), because they get serious quickness mismatches on traditional PFs and height or strength mismatches inside when opposing teams play their SFs on them. Perhaps that is what Morey had in mind in drafting Marcus Morris and Terrence Jones. 2Pat and DMo are the more traditional PFs, except they have a develop-able 3pt shot.

    So instead of Morey having a fascination with 6-8/6-9 tweener PFs, perhaps he just has a fascination with 3-pt shooting PFs? Because that's a big part of the offense he wants the coaches to run!

    So let’s get down to analyzing our potential star PF via trade or free agency. I think we can rule out LMA and Love, because you can’t plan for teams trading these types of players (just like Harden). The 3 other obvious alternatives are Al Jefferson, Josh Smith and Paul Millsap.

    Jefferson doesn’t shoot 3s, and he would probably clog the lane even more with Asik, despite him being the best low-post option. But I can’t imagine Asik being defended anywhere outside the key, so perhaps not a great idea.

    Josh Smith would be great on transition, but he neither has a good low-post game, or a consistent outside jumper (27% from 3s in career). He would be great defensively as a weakside shotblocker, and is a very good passer, but would he be an overall great fit for the team?

    Paul Millsap, I initially thought, was a jack-of-all trades PF without a particular strength. But what piqued my interest in him is his developing 3-pt shot this season (knowing Morey wants 3pt shooting PFs), and I decided to find out more.

    Having not shot more than 0.5 3-pointers per game before this year, Millsap is actually shooting a very good 55.6% froms 3s this year, off a more meaningful 1.4 3ptFGA this year. It'll regress (but to where we don't know yet), but it's definitely a new tool in his game. And that 1.4 is just slightly less than 2Pat’s 1.7 3ptFGA/game this year. And Millsap is only 27 and in his sixth season, which is not too old an age for NBA players to develop a ‘set’ 3pt shot, much like Sam Perkins (12th season) and Rasheed Wallace (6th season) did.

    Take a look at this Millsap clip in the 2010-11 season. 11points in 28 sec vs Heat, to put the game into OT, with three 3-pointers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCiHOpNJXnc

    But what about Millsap the player (overall)? And his fit with the Rockets?

    Well, I think most Rockets fans would probably agree with the Rockets needing a PF that fits the below description, assuming Lin, Harden, Parsons and Asik remains the other members of the starting 5:
    - Solid rebounder, say around 8 rebounds per 36min (vs 2Pat’s 6.5), more is better but isn’t a big need as we’re already a top rebounding team
    - A solid but not necessarily great defender, but capable on PnRs and isolation defense, with ability to produce some steals (and good rebounding) to ignite the fast break
    - Preferably a good weakside shot blocker
    - 18-20pts/36min, preferably able to hit the mid-range jump shot, play in the PnR (both as shooter and roll man), space the floor with a respectable 3pt jumper (set shot is good enough), and create some offense from iso situation.
    - Good passing big-man (our team passing is pretty good, and doesn’t mix well with a black-hole inside) with low turnover rate (team already high TOs with Harden/Lin/Asik)
    - A winning player, not necessarily with championship or deep playoff experience, but with good adjusted +/- and win-share stats
    - Age of ~26-28, as big men develop later and hit their primes around 28-32, so you don’t want to get a 23yr old big men and wait another 4 years for them to develop, wasting the prime of Harden/Lin/Parsons/Asik. But you don’t want them so old (Pau Gasol) that you can’t develop new facets to their game.
    - No injury history
    - Basically a well-rounded guy with a need for scoring more so than defense (because we have Asik)
    -------------------

    So let’s look at Millsap with regards to this.
    - Never missed more than 6 games per year in his career
    - 2010-11 averaged, per 36mins, 18pts, 8rebs, 2.6 assists, 1blk, 1.5 steals and 2TOs, shooting 53% 2ptFG and 76% FTs on 4.6FTAs
    - 2011-12 averaged, per 36mins, 18pts, 9.7rebs, 2.5 assists, 0.9blks, 2 steals, and 2TOs, shooting 50% 2ptFG and 79% FTs on 4.4FTAs
    - 2012-13 so far (13 games) averaging, per 36mins, 17.5pts, 10.2rebs, 2.7 assists, 1.4blks, 1 steal, and 2.4TOs, shooting 47% overall FGs including 56% on 3s and 71% FTs on 4.7FTAs
    - His PERs were 19.8 in 2010-11, 21.8 in 2011-12 and 19.7 in 2012-13 (so far), and he’s never averaged below 16.1 PER in his six completed seasons so far.
    - His WS/48 were 0.143 in 2010-11, 0.179 in 2011-12 (just outside top 10 in NBA) and 0.158 in 2012-13 (so far), and has never dipped below 0.143 in his six completed seasons.
    - TS% has ranged between 54% to 58% in last 3 years, above league average.
    (http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/m/millspa01.html)
    - This article from Basketball Prospectus (http://www.basketballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=834) has the Win Shares/48min, Adjusted plus/minus, statistical plus/minus, alternate win score, PER etc for the 2011/12 season up to the start of February. Millsap is pretty much ranked in the top 3 of western coference PFs of everything, and would be about top 5 PF overall.

    ---------------
    Here’s Hollinger’s analysis of Millsap for 2012-13
    + Scouting report Undersized, high-energy 4 who can score around basket or hit midrange jumpers
    + Excellent rebounder with good hands and wide frame. Amazing knack for steals.
    + Size a problem defensively. Good passer. Moves well without ball into openings.

    Millsap might be the most underrated player in the league. I love this guy. He’s not a prototype 4 because he’s undersized, but he’s athletic, skilled and just knows how to play. He beats smaller players on post-ups, takes bigger ones off the dribble and confounds both with his midrange jump shot.

    Last season was his best yet – he averaged better than a point every two minutes, ranked sixth among power forwards in player efficiency rating, and had he been in the Eastern Conference certainly would have made the All-Star Game. The key is how broad-based his skills are: Millsap was in the top half of power forwards in every category I track except fouls per minute. All of them.

    He was in the top quarter of power forwards in rebounds and assists. He got to the line and made his freebies. He made 41.6 percent of his long 2s and 71.6 percent of his shots in the basket area. He didn't turn it over. While he lacks a single defining go-to move, he has such an assortment of options that he can score on nearly anybody; in particular, his ball skills have really improved.

    And for an undersized 4, his defense sure doesn't seem to be a problem. He fouls a lot, and that keeps him off the court sometimes. However, the Jazz were once again better with him on the court than off it, while Synergy's stats rated him above the league average for power forwards.

    And then there's this little nugget: Millsap averaged 2.25 steals per 40 minutes. To put that in perspective, no other frontcourt player averaged more than 2.0, and no small forward matched Millsap's total either. The top 11 players in steal rate last season were 10 guys 6-4 or shorter -- and Paul Millsap.


    -----------------------------------------

    Furthermore, Millsap’s Synergy stats for 2011-12 shows he used 24.2% his possession on post-ups (ranked #77 in the league in PPP), 15.7% in spot-ups (#237), 13.1% on cuts (#25), 9% on offensive rebounds (#9), 11.3% on transition (#173), 9% on isolation (#141) and 7.4% as PnR roll man (#73). So he’s excellent on cuts and offensive rebounds, pretty good on post-ups and PnR roll man, above average still on transition and isolation, and average at best on spot-ups. Note in 2010-11, Millsap was 15th best in NBA in post-ups.

    Defensively, Millsap in 2011-12 was average at best in post-ups (#141), but he was #37 in iso defense, #24 off screens and #55 in PnR guarding the roller. Allowed also 33% shooting only when dealing with stretch 4s. Players shot only 28% against him in iso defense, and he forced 11% of possessions into turnovers and didn’t give up a single and 1.

    Millsap and Asik would probably form one of the best off screens, PnR roller and iso defending big man tandem in the league.

    (http://weareutahjazz.com/lockedonja...-in-review-part-5-millsap-via-synergy-sports/)

    I also think Millsap’s shooting percentages could be better if the Jazz could spread the court better for him. Playing together with back-to-the-basket Jefferson and Marvin Williams (30% career 3pt shooter) as starting SF really hurts the Jazz’s spacing inside. And this year’s lower 2ptFG% is probably due to Mo Williams (more of a shooting PG) manning the point.

    -------------------------------------------

    So if it sounds pretty good, why hasn’t the Jazz signed Millsap to an extension yet?

    Here’s where the new CBA also hurts the Jazz and creates a potential opening for Daryl Morey. Basically the Jazz can offer Millsap only up to a 3yr extension of $25M, and Millsap rejected it opting to go for free agency.
    (http://www.slcdunk.com/2012/8/6/3222541/paul-millsap-turned-down-a-maximum-contract-the-downbeat-810)

    The article lists only Bobcats, Rockets, Pacers, Magic, Trailblazers, Raptors and Wizards (in addition to Jazz) as having the cap space to sign Millsap in the off-season. Most of the teams are deep lottery level, which isn’t appealing for a PF heading into his prime, Pacers have David West, Portland has LMA and Toronto has typically never attracted FAs (taxes, weather). And the Jazz has Derrick Favors & Enes Kanter upcoming and Al Jefferson as a free-agent this year as well.

    I think the Rockets have a great chance to pry Millsap from the Jazz as a Free Agent (this way, they don't need to lose their young talents via trade). It’s a good complementary fit, Millsap is underrated, and a Morey type of player without being, of course, a real all-star (yet!). But he’s entering his prime and he’s not necessarily, statistic-wise, any worse than LMA, being a slightly better rebounder and slightly weaker scorer, and having similar statistics in shooting percentages, assists, blocks, with Millsap having higher steals numbers. LMA is 6-11 though. Millsap has had to share the inside scoring with Al Jefferson since the 2010-11 season, and could be under-utilized there as well.

    And he has a potentially developing 3pt shot!

    I would definitely be happy with a SF/PF rotation of Parsons, Millsap and Morris, being able to go small with Morris at the 4 or go big with him at the 3. And T Jones and DMo to fill out the rest of the SF/PF minutes. 2Pat would be a pretty damn good reserve if not used in trades to get us better depth at PG, SG or C.


    Would you like Millsap in Rockets uniform? Would Morey (for sure he's not worried about a 6-8 PF as much as clutchfans)? Is there a better gettable alternative?

    Is Millsap worth max, or near-max?

    Or should we develop our own PF out of 2Pat, Morris, T Jones, DMo (and White)?
     
    #1 mike_lu, Nov 24, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
    5 people like this.
  2. shortfuse3

    shortfuse3 Member

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    Nice post. Millsap's emergence was a reason Utah was fine with parting with Boozer.

    I would scream with joy if Paul Millsap was a Rocket!
     
  3. nono

    nono Member

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    We need elite. He is not the solution, especially at his price. This team has already struggled this season to defend tall power forwards (Gasol, Randolph, Bosh, LMA). Adding another tweener PF does not help us.
     
  4. Mathloom

    Mathloom Contributing Member

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    Yes yes yes. Excellent player. On top of everything, he seems to be the type of person who can develop with practice and works hard on the court. He's paid his dues slowly, patiently and in a good coaching environment.

    I worry though that it will require close to the max to pry him from the Jazz. If you think it's hard to get marquee players to sign with Houston, then imagine how hard it is for Utah to do so. I can't imagine them letting such an important asset walk without getting something substantial in return.

    Having said that, I wouldn't mind if we got him on a 10m/season deal. For the same price, I would much rather have Millsap than Josh Smith though realistically I think we would be able to tempt Smith/Atlanta into playing along much easier than we would Millsap/Utah.

    I'm starting to think we should snag a PF at the deadline rather than wait for the summer where we would have to compete with other teams that have cap space. It would be excellent to get Millsap without losing a starter. I'm fairly sure we'd be a top notch rebounding team with excellent 3-pt shooting while Lin would get even more breathing room to allow his game to develop.
     
  5. mike_lu

    mike_lu Member

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    How do we get elite? Morey has been able to get Lin, Asik, and Harden only because they are perceived by many if not most other teams to be not worth what Morey was willing to pay for them. And the only truly elite was a chance-occurrence.

    It's hard to get elite in free agency. And there's none of them (PFs) available this year. And via trade is hard ... we hardly have the assets to trade for elite, unless you're talking about an old ex-elite like Gasol.

    But I do agree with you on the Rockets struggling to defend tall PFs (have for a long time, indeed).
     
    #5 mike_lu, Nov 24, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
  6. DaneB

    DaneB Member

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    I can seriously see him being one of the players we go after. If Millsap is interested in coming here, it would be awesome if he could convince the Jazz to sign and trade, rather than leave for nothing, and then that would leave us with possibly enough cap space to sign a max free agent like Greg Monroe or Kyrie Irving in 2014!
     
  7. crossover

    crossover Contributing Member

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    I think you're somewhat on to something here. Morey is looking for a squad that maximizes true shooting %/ppp and a high TS% usually requires a guy with a good 3pt shot.

    However, I think in this rebuilding phase, his draft choices at PF have been more about value trading. My guess is that he's analyzed tweener PFs drafted/traded for historically and realized they were safe, easily tradeable, and maximized the value of the pick.
     
  8. shortfuse3

    shortfuse3 Member

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    I remember Landry and Millsap had incredible battles during the playoffs, but Millsap was just a bit bigger than Landry.
     
  9. mike_lu

    mike_lu Member

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    I agree with you. The thing is, the longer he's not traded, the less likely a team will have the guts to trade for him. Unless that team is certain it wants to pay the max for him. It's a different case to trading for a certain max player (if healthy) like Dwight and Bynum. You give up a lot to get him, but if you're not willing to pay max, you have a relatively low certainty of keeping him.

    Now I wouldn't go max on Millsap either. But I would easily go to $12M/yr, and perhaps even a bit more.
     
  10. LikeMike

    LikeMike Contributing Member

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    One thing we need is a scoring big man, one that has a post game. Does he have a post game? We need one that we run plays for, someone that can carry the load and score 18-22 points per games as the main low post focus. I don't know Millsaps game enough to be the judge for that but I always thought he was more of a hustle player that gets second chance points and hits his open shots...

    So if he can be that player for us he is worth a shot. But we shouldn't settle for an undersized hustle player that can't be a true low post threat - that would only make us a little better and would not be worth the effort. We have enough role players, we need another star...
     
  11. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member
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    Very good post.

    The Rockets are missing two things in their front-court. A legitimate post-up option, and a player who can spread the floor and hit the 3-pointer. Ideally, they'd find someone who can fill both those needs.

    Carl Landry has a player option and I think he'll likely opt out. He may be another player we take a look at, and can probably be had for a much cheaper price.
     
    1 person likes this.
  12. HMMMHMM

    HMMMHMM Contributing Member

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    I think Morey does values 3-point shooting bigs, but I do not think we'll use our cap space on "good" players like Millsap, who isn't even close to being worth max money. He's a good player -- don't get me wrong -- but we don't need good, we need special or great, which Millsap is not and signing him, Jefferson or Josh Smith will only lead to more mediocrity.
     
  13. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member
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    Who is special/great that's available, though?
     
  14. jtr

    jtr Contributing Member

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    Millsap would be a decent choice, but I think they will wait to see how D-Mo develops. He already has an NBA ready back to the basket game. See the tape of RGV's first game. It also features an 8 minute interview with Morey at halftime. D-Mo has always had 3 point range, but needs some time to develop it. And he shows a great (Parsons like) pump fake from the outside, followed by a hard drive to the basket.
     
  15. SK34

    SK34 Member

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    Did not read, but It would be a great signing for the Rockets because he actually rebounds the ball and can get buckets which will open things up for everyone else. He also can defend both the 3 and the 4.
     
  16. meh

    meh Contributing Member

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    Even if PF may be ou weakest position right now, I have a hard time seeing Morey go after a PF. It's simply very un-moneyball, so to speak. With all our undeveloped talent at the 4, getting another PF reduces the value of everyone else. White, Jones, DMo, Pat, and Morris all become nearly worthless both for the team and in trades. And Morey if nothing else understand asset value.

    Sure, if a certain PF is talented enough, it might be worth it regardless. But Millsap is not that good. I'm thinking more Bosh, Love, Cousins caliber. It makes much more sense to sign someone at another position, either SF or PG. Parsons and Lin can both come off the bench for depth. And it strengthen ou second unit, which is paper thin at all three perimeter positions.
     
    1 person likes this.
  17. dje243

    dje243 Member

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    he averages 14 and 8, which is nice but I think we can find someone in our crop of PF's to do that and not have to pay an arm and a leg.
     
  18. Horry4theWin

    Horry4theWin Member

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  19. dje243

    dje243 Member

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    For the record i think it will either be morris or D-mo who emerges as that guy.
     
  20. OremLK

    OremLK Member

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    Millsap is a great fit for this team, and this offense. I'm not sure whether he's quite good enough to be a legit #2 option, but he would definitely make us a lot better in any case. I would not be surprised to see Morey make a run at him.
     
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