Patty Mills played his final game in the D-League last night… for now. Unfortunately, the state of the Portland Trail Blazers does not provide any certainty in either direction on that first statement. What is for sure is this: Mills followed up his huge debut with the Idaho Stampede with 22 points as he helped them recover from a 24 point deficit and a very slow start against the Reno Bighorns to win 109-108.
Mills finished with 8/12 from the field, 4/5 from deep and 2/2 at the stripe to arrive at his 22, adding three assists, two rebounds, an unfortunate four turnovers (including one in the final minute) and a game-winning putback with just over a second remaining. Once again, Patty reinforced the fact that he can shoot the ball with alarming efficiency, has great speed and that he can use that same speed to get up on opposing ball-handlers in full-court scenarios.
So Mills will make his NBA debut in a Blazers’ uniform tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers. Will he get court time? Under normal circumstances, you’d think not. However the lack of warm bodies on the Blazers may dictate that he sees a few minutes to give Andre Miller/Jerryd Bayless a breather. However the very fact that Kevin Pritchard and Nate McMillan have made the decision to bring him up means that at the very least they like him as an insurance policy and that they’d like to see what he’s got at the top level. So stand by.
Once the team’s corps recover from their multitude of injuries and illness, the likelihood is that we may see Mills back with the Stampede. That of course is assuming that the majority of injured players return as expected. At this stage, he is purely an illness-replacement for Steve Blake, who should return from pneumonia in the not-too-distant.
The likely team for the remainder of the season, as I see it, is:
PG Andre Miller / Steve Blake / Jerryd Bayless
SG Brandon Roy / Rudy Fernandez
SF Martell Webster / Nicolas Batum / Travis Outlaw
PF LaMarcus Aldridge / Dante Cunningham
C Juwan Howard / Jeff Pendergraph
That lineup, should it be healthy, leaves little room for Mills. Even if one of the bigger guys goes down, they’d likely source another big (such as a return of Anthony Tolliver from the Stampede) to ensure they have the size to compete.