The Nets have struggled of late, dating back to their home stretch of January. Brooklyn finished the undermanned 28-day period with an overall record of 3-13 filled with many downs and few ups. The depleted roster has had handfuls of role players take on heavier burdens, more minutes ... and Patty Mills has been affected the most.
The heavy burden for the veteran guard began back on November 14 when Joe Harris injured his left ankle and shortly after, underwent arthroscopic surgery. The wing hasn’t touched played a game since then. Mills was assigned a heavier shooting load — a load that has clearly worn him out.
“I think Patty’s tired. I think his legs have been worked pretty hard this year. He’s played more minutes than he’s ever played and we’ve asked a lot of him,” said Steve Nash on Mills’ workload throughout the regular season. “As we get bodies back, he can hopefully get a little bit more of a normal rotation.”
In the month of February, Mills registered only two 50 percent+ 3-Point shooting performances (February 2 against the Utah Jazz and February 17 against the Washington Wizards). He concluded the tough 16-game stretch shooting only 33.0 percent from behind the arc and 30.7 from the field overall.
The 33-year-old is averaging the most minutes of his 13-year NBA career, seeing 30.6 minutes per contest. He hasn’t logged more than 25+ minutes per game since the 2017-18 season — a season he played in all 82 games and averaged 25.7 minutes. He was 29 years old at the time.
“It’s not just the amount of minutes. We’re asking him to create offense and things that are all piling up in a sense. His spirit has been unbelievable. His leadership has been unbelievable and he’s such a big part of our connective tissue that he’s a big piece in what we do regardless of making or missing shots.”
The extended shooting slide can be worrisome but it hasn’t plummeted Mills’ overall shooting percentages that much. Through the 62 games played, Mills is still shooting 41.4/40.8/81.1. His 40.8 percent shooting from 3-Point range ranks 16th in the league and isthird among 54 players with 300+ 3-Point Field Goal Attempts. He trails Cam Johnson (43.2 perccent) and Luke Kennard (44.5 percent) in that category. Mills also leads the NBA in catch-and-shoot 3-Pointers made (150-of-354).
Filling in for Nash (health and safety protocols) as the head coach, Jacque Vaughn said Monday that he believes that Mills’ extended shooting slump is just a tough routine period for most shooters.
“Nothing specific. I think it’s normal stretches of the season,” said Vaughn. “He’s extremely professional. He’ll do his diligence and we believe him, love him and trust him so that ball is going to go in for him.”