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'Outright necessity', 'true pro': How Patty Mills has blown up expectations in stunning Nets start

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27th October, 2021
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Australia’s Olympic Games captain Patty Mills has received high praise from his Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash after making an immediate impact with the NBA team.

With Kyrie Irving missing and James Harden still returning to form, Mills has become “an outright necessity” according to a report in the New York Post on Wednesday (AEST).
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“He’s a winner,” Nash was quoted as saying. “He plays the right way, he’s experienced. Obviously he’s skilled, but he just brings a great feel to the game, with [or] without the ball. And defensively, he makes our team communicate better. He organises us [on] both sides of the ball.o

The Post said Mills was “an addition the Nets frankly couldn’t do without right now.

“They pried Mills away from the Spurs with the mid-level exception. The team-friendly two-year, $12 million contract was less than half of the $13.5 million he made with San Antonio last season, and one pundit referred to the deal as the “steal of the offseason” in the NBA.

“Mills is proving that right, on both ends of the court and in the locker room.”

James Harden #13 talks with Patty Mills #8 of the Brooklyn Nets

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Mills, to no surpise of any Aussie who followed his Tokyo Olympics heroics, has been humble and committed despite the pay cut.

“Just try to make an impact on the game somehow, whether it’s on the defensive or offensive end,” Mills said this week.

“That’s always been something that I’ve hung my hat on. Offensively if it’s not the night, then go make a play defensively and get after [it], dive for loose balls, create a charge, make an impact that way. An all-around mentality is the thing I’ve tried to have always.”

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The veteran guard goes into Thursday’s game against the Heat averaging 14.5 points on .525 shooting and a white-hot .640 from deep. He’s tops on the Nets in 3-point shooting, second in plus-minus (+7.5) and third in scoring.

“Professionalism. Just a true pro, through-and-through,” Kevin Durant said of Mills. “Just how he approaches his craft every day is an inspiring thing to anybody, especially when you know the story where he comes from.

“Just having that energy around every day is amazing. Beating his chest into the crowd, making timely plays underneath the basket, getting steals, just playing with energy. We’re going to need that from him.”

“It’s been amazing. Patty makes tough shots,” Bruce Brown said. “I remember guarding him when he was on the Spurs and it was hell. He comes off screens extremely fast and can still shoot the ball 100 mph. So just a great player, great dude to have.”

After Mills scored 22 points to lead Australia to a July 12 exhibition win over Team USA, he followed that with 15 in the semifinal rematch. His 42 points in the bronze medal game set an Olympic record for the medal contest, and showed what he could do in a system suited to his talents.

Mills scored 21 points Monday in the Nets’ win over Washington and has upped his aggression in shooting.

“A mindset change. I think that’s always the case. Being able to assert myself for a little bit more,” Mills said. “That’s also the thing of getting comfortable and figuring it out on the fly each and every day.”

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