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JuMu's Jazzmen Previews: #8 Elijah Millsap

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Today's preview features our scrappy defensive specialist and also our current best Millsap: Elijah. Where does he fit in with the Jazz this year?

You better believe Elijah Millsap is going to continue to hustle for his role with this Jazz team
You better believe Elijah Millsap is going to continue to hustle for his role with this Jazz team
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Top 10 so far:

#9. Joe Ingles (His post)
#10. Trey Lyles (His post)

Last year's projected #8: Rodney Hood (His post)

Rodney Hood lived up to expectations for the most part last season. He gave us his expected solid three point shooting but also surprised with his great defensive effort (albeit with the common annoying rookie fouls).

Hood's pick and roll game and ball handling were pleasant surprises last season as well (He was the only rotation player with a sub-10 Turnover percentage).

I expect Hood's game to take an under-the-radar leap this year, but more on that when we get to his entry.

Time for this year's projected 8th best player:

#8. Elijah Millsap, 2nd year, 28 years old, 6'6", 215 pounds, SG/SF

Source: Deseret News

Backstory:

Elijah Millsap has long lived in his older brother Paul's shadow. And if we're going to mention Paul and Elijah, we might as well mention that all the Millsap brothers are trying their luck at this whole fad going on right now that the cool kids are calling basketball these days.

Source: katgoduco

Firstborn John Millsap (Age 32, Height 6-6) is still trying to find his big break but for now has had to make his way in other leagues. He played on the Jazz's summer league teams back in 2007 and 2013, and the Hawks' summer league team in 2014 but for the most part has made his living over in the Latin America Basketball Leagues with career averages of 17.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in 4 seasons.

We all probably know more about the most prolific Millsap brother Paul (Age 30, Height 6-8) than we do about current Jazz player Elijah. Paul was a classic Jazz diamond-in-the-rough draft pick back in 2006. He was the 47th pick yet still found a way to make All-rookie 2nd team. He went from being rebounding specialist who backed up Boozer to being the Jazz's starting Power Forward and one of the Jazz's best players of the last decade. He played 7 seasons with the Jazz with averages of 12.4 points and 7 rebounds with us. In his best season with the Jazz, he posted stats of 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game. He now dominates for the Hawks.

Elijah (Age 28, Height 6-6)  is the third oldest brother and played for lesser known colleges in University Louisiana-Lafayette and University Alabama-Birmingham. He was the best player on Birmingham with 16 points and 9.5 rebounds a game, but this was not enough for him to get drafted in 2010.  He played some NBA preseason games for the Thunder in 2010 and the Bucks in 2014 but never made it to get NBA regular season playing time before last season.

Before moving on with Elijah's story, wanted to mention that the last Millsap brother Abraham (Age 26, Height 6-4) also exists and played in France last season. Back to Elijah!

Elijah was a NBA D-League standout, making NBA D-League All Star and 2nd team in 2012. He was a consistently dominant player in the D-League yet it still took several years before any NBA team took a flier on him to actually play in the big leagues.

The Jazz gave him that promotion on the 5th of January this year. Where they played him 18 minutes in his professional debut. It is important to remember the context of what the Jazz were facing at this time.

Alec Burks had his season-ending injury on December 22nd.

Rodney Hood started having his nagging injury issues on December 30th.

Patrick Christopher's 4 game stint ended 5 minutes into a Hawks game on January 2nd with a gruesome knee injury.

It was at that moment Quin Snyder and Paul Millsap made eye contact and it was made abundantly clear that the basketball deities had made it known that injuries would plague the Jazz's shooting guard position worse and worse until they refulfilled balance to the roster with a Millsap once again! (citation needed)

Enter Elijah

Elijah went from never playing an NBA regular season game at the age of 27 to playing 47 of 48 of the Jazz's final games this season. And he wasn't just some schmuck playing garbage time either, nope! He played at least 30 minutes 6 times this season and at least 20 minutes 23 times this season.

Millsap was given his role of defensive nuisance and by the will of Elijah did he play the role to a tee.

Now his shooting and overall offensive game was underwhelming and even was in the negative impact range, but Lil' Sap would more than make up for it on the defensive end. The Jazz had found themselves a new hustler and his name is Millsap.

What to Expect This Season:

Source: Getty Images

Elijah Millsap is going to be in a bit of a tough spot playing time wise, as was also discussed about Joe Ingles in the previous entry.

Elijah got his chance to play in the big leagues only because of the injury decimation of our shooting guards last season. What will become of his role with a healthy Burks and Hood ahead of him?

It took me a long time to decide who would come out ahead between Millsap and Ingles. Looking at the game logs of the 2nd half of last season, there was not a clear player ahead of the other in the playing time pecking order. Quin seemingly would alternate who would get more time depending on matchup as well as in-game situations of whether we needed on-ball defense or the occasional 3 point shot/better passer on the wing more.

I gave Elijah the nod over Ingles as having a better season this year due to the defensive identity that Quin appears to be building with our team. Joe Ingles really does not provide much to push the needle his way from an impact standpoint when you look at the strengths that Burks, Hood, and Millsap all have.

Another point to consider in the Joe Ingles vs. Elijah Millsap playing time decision. They will be playing on the 2nd unit, depending on matchups and the rest of the 2nd unit on the floor at the time, Quin must make the choice of Elijah if he wants to prioritize defense, or Ingles if he needs a glue guy out there.  With 2 of Hood/Burks/Booker out there for the 2nd unit, we may need more help on D, than with ball handling or perimeter shooting.

Elijah has got the defensive prowess, and as long as he maintains that hustle, he should find a way to prolong his NBA career. I mean, look at what DeMarre Carroll has done over the last couple seasons...he went from fringe NBA player who hustled to making the big bucks now.

Expect Elijah's playing time to take a little bit of a hit, but not enough to hinder the impact he has on the floor:

G

MP

FGA

FG%

3P%

TRB

AST

STL

PTS

PER

WS

VORP

60

16.0

4

0.370

0.320

3.0

1.2

1.0

6.0

12.0

2.0

0.0

Elijah Millsap will have many nights where you see him being an effective pest to the other team but then you'll look at his ugly box-score production and see why a player's overall value cannot be limited to just the basic stats.

Conclusion:

It is slightly premature at this point to guarantee that Elijah will be a defensive monster this season on the wing for the Jazz. There is still a chance that the Jazz cut him or that he simply does not make the rotation this season once all our shooting guards are healthy again.

Elijah should be given the benefit of the doubt though. He filled in the role he was expected to when the Jazz needed him most last year. Judging from how the identity this team is trying to build, Elijah fits the bill of backup defensive wing this team will need at times.

Elijah Millsap: Ugly box score; defensive pest

NBA Rank came out and it didn't even have Elijah Millsap in the top 400, huge snub. We'll see if Elijah will have the chance to make a bigger name for himself this season..

Make us proud Lil' Sap!

Chances of him being with the team in the 2016-2017 season:

50%