Atlanta Hawks Player Preview: Paul Millsap
Birthplace: Monroe, Louisiana
Born Date: 2/10/1985
True Position: Power Forward (4)
411: Paul Millsap aka “Mr.” Millsap tends to be strictly about the business of basketball. Born in Monroe, Louisiana, Paul spent most of his childhood in Denver before returning to Louisiana in 1999 where he would attend Grambling Laboratory High School in Grambling, Lousiana. Due to his excellence on and off the court Paul was inducted into the Louisian Tech Hall of Fame in 2011 as well as being recognized by Grambling Laboratory High School with a “Paul Millsap Day” in August of the same year. Basketball runs through the Millsap family as Paul has three brothers who also play the game. His brother John played college basketball at Texas-San Antonio before spending time in the CBA, where he was an All-Star, as well as spending time in the NBA D-League. John Millsap also played on the Atlanta Hawks summer league team this past summer. Paul’s brother Elijah played college basketball at Alabama-Birmingham before playing in the NBA D-League the past three seasons. Abraham, Paul’s youngest brother, currently plays basketball at Tennessee State. As you can see, basketball is serious in the Millsap family. When Paul is not consumed in basketball, he is more than likely giving his time to his three daughters, all of whom have distinct names; Xylah, Pnauyona and Paular. Listen to my one-on-one interview with Paul as he discusses his role on the team as it pertains to playing with Al Horford as well some of the differences between Atlanta and Utah.
Basketball Background: Paul’s basketball game was put together in a laboratory, literally. Paul attended Grambling Laboratory High School in Grambling, Louisiana where over his junior and senior seasons he averaged 20 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1.5 stills while shooting 57% from the floor. Although he put up great numbers in high school and despite being named Louisiana Mr. Basketball in 2003, Paul was not highly touted or scouted coming out of high school leading him to accept a scholarship with the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech. Paul’s impact at Louisiana Tech was instant as he became the first freshman in NCAA history to win the rebounding title after averaging 12.5 rebounds to go along with 15.6 points and just under 2 blocks per game. His numbers stayed on par during his sophmore season where he led the nation in rebounding for the second consecutive season at 12.5 rebounds per game while increasing his scoring average by nearly 5 points from 15.6 to 20.4 per game with just under 2 blocks. Paul would finally be recognized as he earned All-WAC First Team honors for the first time. He earned All-Wac First Team honors his junior season as well when he finished second in the WAC conference in points per game (19.6), blocks per game (2.3) steals per game (1.9) and field goal percentage (57%) while becoming the first player in NCAA Division I history to lead the nation in rebounding for three consecutive seasons averaging 13.3 boards per game.
After his junior season, Paul decided it was time to test his skills on the next level. Once again, Paul would be somewhat overlooked as he was selected in the second round, with the 47th pick, to the Utah Jazz. As a rookie with the Jazz, Paul played in every game finishing second among rookies in rebounding and double-doubles to then Atlanta Hawks rookie Sheldon Williams in both categories. He was voted to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. Paul played in 194 straight games before missing his first game after he suffered a sprained PCL versus the Milwaukee Bucks in 2008. He would only miss 6 games and during the next season Paul would crack the starting line-up when Carlos Boozer suffered quadriceps and knee injuries that led to surgery. It was during that stretch Paul’s numbers increased as he showed he could be a legit starter in the NBA by averaging 15.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game while shooting 56% from the field. Starting his fifth season in Utah, Paul was given the starting job on a permanent basis after Boozer jetted to Chicago as a free agent the prior off season. Paul put up a career high of 46 points on the road that season versus the Miami Heat, giving them their first home loss since the “Big 3″ of Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined together. Paul would go on to play two more successful seasons in Utah before having his free agent rights renounced by the Jazz. On July 10, 2013, Paul signed a 2 year deal with the Atlanta Hawks.
Expectations: Durability is one thing Hawks fans can expect from Paul. Of the possible 558 games that have been played since Paul has been in the NBA, he has appeared in 540 of them and started 265 games. He is a solid rebounder and defender who can score on the inside with his physical prowess or from the perimeter. He is a career 52% from the field so expect Paul to spread the floor when he is in the game allowing Al Horford to have space to operate on the inside or vice versa. Paul is a professional who takes winning seriously. He is a great role model for the younger guys on the team so expect him to contribute in grooming some of them as well. Paul should start in the front court alongside Al Horford which means the Hawks will be small in the front court. With the experience, basketball IQ, toughness and professionalism, along with a deficiency of true centers in the NBA, Paul is expected to be apart of one of the best, but perhaps underrated front courts in the Eastern Conference.
You may follow Paul on twitter @Paulmillsap4. You may also follow myself, James Harmon, on twitter @nottydred. Thank you and stay blessed.