Sports analytics have really taken over the blogging and debate world. It's tough to have an opinion and be taken seriously without having some strong data to back up your stance, whatever it may be. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this, however the issue here is that some will pull only the statistics they want to show you and thus you do not actually have the full picture of a player. Not only that, but stats alone do not tell the whole story -- the eye test as its referred to is still heavily relied upon when evaluating talent and translation of skills from one level to the next.
All of this to say -- Elijah Millsap has NBA talent, but there are some serious inefficiencies keeping him from his full potential. Potential is one of those dangerous words that we love to throw around to back an opinion we have of a player, and Millsap is reaching the he's too old for words like potential or upside zone.
22.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.9 steals
These numbers are certainly staggering and if presented alone you would be hard-pressed to find anyone else in the league with anything as impressive. Millsap is the only player in the top-15 in each of these four categories. He's 6th in points, 14th in rebounds, 9th in assists and 1st in the league in steals. He's also first in the league in minutes per game (41.3) so he's been a workhorse for the Jam early on in the season.
40.9 (FGs), 25.0 (3-point), 76.5 (FT), 52.1 (TS)
This is the area that needs a large amount of focus if Millsap wants to progress to the next level. Again, he's playing a ton of minutes and his usage percentage of 25.1 is very high, so we can expect to see some inefficiencies in shooting percentages. However, shooting 25 percent from 3-point range while still shooting 3.0 per game is Josh Smith-esque. Elijah is shooting more per game than he ever has before (17.1 attempts) but to get noticed he needs to either starting taking better shots or take less and make the same amount to raise that percentage. He leads the D-League in free throws made at 62, but even when factoring that in his true shooting percentage of 52.1 is well below the NBA average for 2013-14 (53.9).
From this shot chart you can see that Millsap's strength is attacking the basket which explains the high free throw rate, but 48 percent at the rim just isn't good enough especially when there aren't a ton of bigs defending the rim in the D-League. There certainly will be at the next level and that has to be something that NBA front offices are looking at when evaluating Millsap.
These inefficiencies are not being shown to disprove the talent or production that Millsap has put up. Those numbers are still very impressive on the surface, but if we're talking about garnering interest from an NBA team, then Millsap still has some work to do. The numbers he's putting up will be career highs across the board, but he definitely needs to finish more around the rim and take better care of the ball as he currently leads the league with 43 turnovers.
One thing NBA executives can be sure of is Millsap's athleticism and will to win. He takes all of the big shots for Bakersfield and when the end of the game comes near, the ball can always be found in his hands. Elijah might have provided us with the D-League Dunk of the Year against the Reno Bighorns last week.
If Millsap is able to continue with his high level of production we can assume that an NBA team will give him a shot at one point or another, even with some of the inefficient shooting and high turnover rate. The NBA can sign D-League players to 10-day contracts starting January 5, 2015 so that might be Millsap's best chance to get a legitimate look and possibly find a niche as role player in the NBA.