The undervalued Paul Millsap

November 10th, 2010 | by K.Malphurs

Copyright NBAE 2010 (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

Everyone made the same observation simultaneously: Paul Millsap took his talents to South Beach and hung 46 of the most dramatic points in Jazz history on the Miami Heat.

With 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter the Jazz were down eight points. You can watch what happened here.

Paul Millsap has consistently been underrated. Coming out of high school he was rated as the 130th best prospect. He proved that ranking wrong by leading the NCAA in rebounding for three consecutive years at Louisiana Tech. 

After a long, extremely productive college career was over (he did more than rebound), he might have expected to be drafted in the 1st round especially considering how *weak the talent was in the 2006 NBA draft. Instead, he was overlooked once again and fell to the 46th pick and the Utah Jazz. Before we give the Jazz too much credit, keep in mind that they passed on Millsap twice to take Ronnie Brewer (14th) and Dee Brown (46th). There is a long list of players taken before Millsap who haven’t come close to his levels of production.

*Check out the 2006 Nba draft to see the list of players taken before Millsap.

Let’s look at the top 5 picks in the 2006 draft. All five players were between 6-8 and 6-11 in height and all five players were forwards. Everyone except Adam Morrison just happened to play the power forward position that Millsap plays. In terms of NBA wins produced, below is the current ranking of those 5 picks:

  • LaMarcus Aldridge: 28.8 wins
  • Tyrus Thomas: 12.3 wins
  • Andrea Bargnani: 11.8 wins
  • Shelden Williams: 6.3 wins
  • Adam Morrison: -1.4 wins

Paul Millsap has produced 26.4 wins, which means he falls right below LaMarcus Aldridge in total wins produced. I would still take Millsap over Aldridge (even removing the salary difference) because Millsap has produced only 9% less wins despite Aldridge playing in 29% more minutes. Millsap is a better shooter (53% eFG% > 49%), rebounder (Total Rebound 16.3% > 13%) and has produced a higher WS/48 minutes every single year. And even with a fat new contract, Millsap has made half what Aldridge has made so far.

Millsap would go in the top 5 picks in any re-draft and  it really isn’t even that close. Still two of the top 5 players (Aldridge and Bargani) from that draft make more money than Millsap with a third (Thomas) being paid only $1M less.

Millsap has been extremely productive over his first four years of service to the Jazz and for that he has been paid $9.8M.  Millsap is finally getting paid, but in over his career his workman-like efforts have been a huge bargain. The Jazz paid less than $133K per win that Millsap produced in the first three years and with the huge bump in salary (an 864% raise) he was paid $900K per win (regular season and playoffs) last year. Over the first four years he was paid $395K per regular season win he produced for the Jazz. To give you some perspective Kobe Bryant was paid $1.8 for every win (regular season and playoffs) he produced for the Lakers last year.

In fact Millsap was the most cost effective of all of the Jazz regulars last year with one glaring exception. Wesley Matthews produced 5 wins over the course of the year, which considering he made only $457K means that his COW (Cost of Win) = $92K. Here are a few NBA players off the top of my mind to see how their COW compared to the Jazz players from last year.

The Jazz have Millsap locked up for the next three years at a very reasonable rate considering his age and production. The Jazz just have to play him more and they will start seeing one of the most productive players in the NBA. That is why it shouldn’t be too suprising that now that his minutes per game has increased to 37.4 this year his wins produced ranking is now 3rd in the league right after Pau Gasol and Chris Paul.

Always a fan favorite, Millsap may have taken the superstar leap with tonight’s performance in Miami. He’s worked in the background and had to watch other less talented players get the headlines. Always underrated, we finally got a chance to see Millsap  unleashed while properly rated. His 46 points were the most scored by a Jazz player since Karl Malone put 56 on the Warriors in 1998. Millsap has the potential to be as good as the last Jazz forward from Lousiana Tech.

I for one don’t want to be the next in a long line of people who have underestimated Paul Millsap.

K.Malphurs

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One Comment

  1. Benbot says:

    Couldn’t agree with your post more. I’ve loved watching this guy grow under Sloan. And to add further evidence, I picked up Millsap at the end of the 6th round of my Fantasy draft (which was still higher than he was pre-ranked)– now everybody’s asking me for a trade. Not a chance!

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