Utah Jazz fans have known for the last 2 years that Paul Milsap was good but did they know that he was this good? The rest of the league has taken notice with his recent promotion to starter as his coming out party. He has started the last 12 games with Boozer being out and his numbers make you wonder who should start when Boozer gets healthy. 12 games - 18.7 pts, 11.7 rbs, 2.5 assists, 2 steals and 1 block per night. He's also has 12 straight double doubles (13 if you include tonight's Nets game.) Those are some impressive numbers for an undersized 6-7 PF that was taken in the 2d round.
You look at him now and you wonder how he slipped to the second round but undersized PF's aren't highly regarded by NBA scouts. At some point scouts are going to have to catch on that tough guys that are a little short are better than taller guys with no heart. Craig Smith, Leon Powe, and Jason Maxiell are guys that can play but weren't highly regarded due to their size. If you can play, there is a place for you in the league. Milsap and these guys have proven themselves but bad GM's will continue to take untested 7 footers over them. Part of the problem is that if someone takes Milsap in the first round, you get blasted for taking a guy that doesn't physically fit the mold of an NBA PF. You can gamble in the second round, so if Milsap ends up a bust then nobody remembers. A lot of teams out there that wish that they could have had Milsap. He went 47th in the 06 draft but if you did it all over again, only Aldridge, Roy, Gay, Brewer and Rondo would be taken ahead of him.
MIlsap overcomes his limitations with tremendous energy and a knack for being around the ball. He doesn't usually out jump his opponents but finds himself in the right spot at the right time. Especially on the offensive glass, he seems to know where the ball is going instead of having to fight for the ball. Not that he can't fight for the ball, which he also does very well. His activity on offense also translates to defense. Bigger players can shoot over him but he does force them to take jumpers instead of getting to the basket. One number that sticks out is the 2 steals a game. His hands are extremely active and he regularly deflects interior passes. When he plays with Brewer, AK and Knight, the Jazz have their best defensive unit capable of making stops.
Boozer himself was a second round pick so he knows a thing or two about making the most of your opportunities. They get their points in different ways, Boozer with a variety of pick and rolls, elbow jumpers and post moves while Milsap gets rewarded for his constant hustle with put backs and cuts to the basket. Milsap is developing a jump shot and is only getting better each year. As I have alluded to in previous posts, Boozer is really important for this offense to run smoothly. He gets his points against good defenders and has an uncanny connection with Williams. He commands double teams which Milsap has yet to see and is also a better interior passer. Boozer is an all star, an Olympic team member and when he comes back it will make big difference but you have to wonder if he is going to stay here next year.
The team next year is going to look quite different with all of the free agents on the team. With his previous history and Miami being a lot nicer than Salt Lake, I wouldn't feel safe until Boozer signs on the dotted line. Boozer is opting out and is probably looking for Elton Brand money - 5 years 80 million so having Milsap is good insurance. Would you rather commit 15+ million for five years to Boozer or sign Milsap for 5-6 years at 6-8 million a year and have money left over for someone else? Even with Boozer, this team is missing a player to be championship level so I don't know if it would be wise to throw big money to a guy who isn't taking you to the finals.
Williams is the franchise now and paying Boozer 15 million a year will only hurt this team in the long run. I would rather pay Milsap 50% of Boozers money and get 80% of his production. It would be great if they didn't lose Boozer for nothing but bad contracts ruin franchises and the Jazz already have AK's bad contract. The Jazz are usually pretty frugal so I can't imagine them breaking the bank for Boozer. In the end, it will be good for Milsap and good for the Jazz.