Back from 2006-2008, Paul Millsap played in every single Jazz game as a 21- and 22-year-old. He averaged about 19 minutes per game over the two seasons and performed really well in those minutes. As Carlos Boozer struggled with injury and eventually left as a free agent, Millsap's role grew.
And lo!, he kept performing. Not all awesome young prospects get a ton of minutes from Day 1, but that doesn't mean they aren't really productive players who can be plus starters in the future.
With Millsap's journey in mind, let's take a look at the 2013-14 Paul Millsap Breakout Candidate All-Stars. Here's the criteria: last season, the player must have been 23 or younger, played at least 800 minutes overall and averaged fewer than 25 per game. And your team is ...
Center: Andre Drummond
Drummond is No. 1 with a bullet on the Millsap All-Stars. Just 20, he had absurd peripheral numbers in 2012-13, averaging 13 rebounds and almost three blocks per 36 minutes. He proved to be a decent scorer too, averaging 14 per 36 minutes on 60 percent shooting. The surprising news, perhaps, is that he doesn't turn the ball over much. For a young big man, that's not common.
Alternate: Jonas Valanciunas, Enes Kanter
Forwards: John Henson and Ed Davis
Henson didn't get consistent minutes, with 19 DNPs. But his per-minute numbers are strong: 16.5 points and 12.9 rebounds. Positively Millsapian, even if Henson looks entirely different than his forefather. It'll be interesting to see where exactly Henson lands in the rotation, but the numbers say he can contribute.
Davis didn't exactly blossom after being traded to the Grizzlies last season; he averaged 24 minutes per game in Toronto, and 15 in Memphis. But his per-minute and efficiency numbers were pretty good in both spots, as he averaged about 14 points and 10 rebounds per 36 minutes while shooting 54 percent. Expect new Grizz coach Dave Joerger to use him more frequently.
Alternates: Tobias Harris, Derrick Favors, Greg Smith, Andrew Nicholson
Guards: Eric Bledsoe and Jimmer Fredette
Bledsoe won't be controversial to anyone: he performed well in limited minutes for the Clippers and was freed in a trade to the Suns, where he'll be featured. His per-36 numbers -- 15 points, five rebounds, five assists, 2.5 steals -- tell the story of a versatile Swiss army knife in the backcourt. His overall efficiency isn't great, but his shooting numbers are at least encouraging, as they've improved over his first three seasons.
Jimmer is a guy who probably deserves minutes, but may have trouble finding them on a Sacramento team with a lot of pretty good guards. He averaged 18 points per 36 minutes, which is the typical mark of a really strong scorer. That he did that while getting jerked in and out of the rotation is pretty impressive. He shot a lovely 41 percent on three-pointers, but just 42 percent inside the arc. The numbers show him to be worthy of minutes, but is he more worthy than Sacramento's other options? We'll see.
Alternates: John Jenkins, Iman Shumpert, Reggie Jackson, Alec Burks.
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Man, LeBron James really does not like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, and we just might be overlooking how rad a Nets-Heat playoff series would be. This week, LeBron lambasted the former Celtics for ripping Ray Allen's decision to join the Heat when, a year later, the pair trotted down to Brooklyn.
It's a bit of false equivalence on LeBron's part. Not only did Allen leave as a free agent while Garnett and Pierce were traded, but the situations were wholly different. Yes, KG and Pierce had to consent to the trade, which they did. But the Celtics were trying to trade them, having given up the chase for another title with that core. When Allen left, the Celtics were trying to keep him, making one last run. So KG and Pierce were not at all hypocrites for criticizing Allen in 2012 and skipping town in 2013.
But it was still ridiculous to criticize Ray for signing with Miami. He didn't like his situation with Rajon Rondo and Doc Rivers in Boston, didn't like the Celtics' offer and didn't think his best chance to win another championship and be a major contributor was found in Beantown. He felt that opportunity was in Miami. And guess what? He was immediately vindicated. Immediately.
LeBron lashing out at KG and Pierce over the way they treated Allen is fair, but you can't call them hypocrites. They were just being totally ridiculous and small. (And KG now telling LeBron to mind his own business is, well, very KG.)
FUN ANDREW BYNUM FACTS
Update: Andrew Bynum is doing actual basketball things! Not, like, Pop-A-Shot or NBA Jam. Like, but scrimmaging and whatnot. According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, Bynum is down to his playing weight. The more interesting news:
Bynum weighed more than 300 pounds when he signed with the Cavs [...]
This dude entered free agency after a lost season over 300 pounds. He really is the next Shaq.
One more from Lloyd:
A league executive from an opposing team, who has studied Bynum and is familiar with his history, told the Beacon Journal over the summer that Bynum seemed to grow tired of Kobe Bryant "constantly in his ear. I think he just got sick of (Bryant)."
Oracle, GIF me Kobe's reaction.
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