Mills spent most of the past six seasons with the San Antonio Spurs as the backup to franchise stalwart Tony Parker. He played a career-high 21.9 minutes per game during the 2016-17 season en route to averaging 9.5 points and 3.5 assists while shooting 41.4 percent from three-point range.
The 28-year-old Australia native rarely took on an extensive role because of Parker's presence—he made just 18 starts in 367 games—but still found a way to make an impact. First, it was as a spark plug off the bench, but he's since developed into a more well-rounded asset.
In December, Nick Moyle of the San Antonio Express-News passed along comments from Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich about the reliable bench contributor.
"Patty's been very consistent for us for the entire time that we've had him," he said. "He's a huge part of our bench and the group that comes onto the court. Obviously his energy, but his shooting ability and his competitiveness are great. He's a ball mover and people enjoy playing with him. I think he's really taken pride in becoming more of a cerebral point guard instead of just being known as an energy guy."
Mills ranked 23rd in value added among qualified point guards during the 2016-17 campaign, per ESPN's Hollinger stats. That placed him above several notable names, including Jordan Clarkson, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and even Parker, his longtime mentor.
Popovich jokingly tried to downplay the impact Mills had on games after being thrust into a more high-profile role, which he handled like a battle-tested veteran.
"I don't want to talk too much about Patty Mills because the more good things I say, the more we'll have to pay him," he told reporters.
Mills' role figures to remain much the same in the short term unless Parker isn't ready to play when the new season gets underway. San Antonio will otherwise likely to continue to start the four-time champion in the final year of his current contract.
The bigger long-term question is whether the Aussie guard will be able to beat out Dejounte Murray in what's likely to become a battle for the open job once Parker's time with the franchise comes to an end. Both players have showcased plenty of upside in limited duty.