The Atlanta Hawks lost their star player Josh Smith to the Detroit Pistons in free agency, but they replaced him with another very good player in Paul Millsap. Millsap has been one of the main pieces for the Utah Jazz the last seven seasons, and has developed into a very good scorer and a great rebounder as well. He may not have the “star” name that Josh Smith had, but he may actually fit what the Hawks want to do better.
Millsap averaged 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season with the Jazz, and is expected to up his numbers being one of the key players in Atlanta. He’s not the best scorer, but he’s more than capable of being a guy who can put up 18-19 points per game on a consistent basis. The Hawks are going to ask him to step into a much bigger scoring role than he had in Utah, and he’ll be one of their primary offensive options. Only time will tell how he fits into that role, but he’s always risen to the tasks given to him in the past.
There are some things that Millsap will need to work on in order to step into his bigger role. His consistency on offense has yet to be proven, so he’ll have to work hard on his all-around game. The Hawks will need him to be able to knock down the mid-range jumper consistently, and also improve his post moves. He’s very solid all-around, but solid won’t cut it when defenses are focusing on shutting him down.
Defensively, he’ll be stepping into a very big void being left by Josh Smith. Smith was known for his shot-blocking ability and all-around defensive prowess. Millsap has never been known as a rim protector or a great defensive presence, but he’s going to need to find a way to step up and become solid at least. He’s got the ability to be a pest defensively, but there is work needed to be done in order to get there.
Overall, Paul Millsap is going to have a large role with the Atlanta Hawks this season. He’ll be asked to shoulder a major scoring load and become a leader on a team that most don’t expect to compete this season. He has always wanted to be a leader in Utah, and now he’ll get that opportunity with a team that is in a slight re-building mode. It will be an intriguing situation to watch, but if any player is able to step up and answer the call it is Paul Millsap. Expect his scoring numbers to rise up to around the 18.5 area, and his rebounds to move up to around 9.0 or above. Those are the kind of numbers that he’ll have to put up in order to help the Hawks be a competitive team this season.