It is increasingly difficult to rank the best players in the NBA by position. Teams are regularly deploying lineups that would have been classified as strange in past seasons, and that even extends to the starting lineup for a team like the Indiana Pacers, who utilize Paul George as an every-game starter at the power forward position.
Bradford Doolittle of ESPN Insider is attempting to rank the top 30 players at each position in the league, and to be clear, he is doing a very strong job. On Wednesday, he unveiled his listing of power forwards, and Paul Millsap of the Atlanta Hawks landed at number seven overall.
Doolittle noted that Millsap "looks headed for a career season" at the tender age of 31, and in terms of "hidden talent", he referenced Millsap's late-career development as a long-range shooter:
During his first seven seasons, Millsap made a total of 31 3-pointers. He's made 76 and 77 the past two seasons, respectively. In 2014-15, he climbed to the 94th percentile in catch-and-shoot efficiency among power forwards, per Synergy.
As he did for every player, the writer also provided an area that Millsap could improve on to take things "to the next level", and it came in the form of deterring opposing shooters.
Millsap has a steadily solid defensive RPM and good box score stats on that end. However, SportVu has rated his impact against opposing shooters in the 26th and 22nd percentile, respectively, over the past two seasons.
While there is no reason to doubt the overall ranking of Millsap at number seven (especially given his production in 2015-2016), there is actually an argument that Millsap rates as a top-five player at the position. To that end, DeMarcus Cousins (who has been described as a center in widespread terms) and the aforementioned Paul George both land ahead of Millsap on this list, and if removed, the door swings open for Millsap ahead of the likes of Chris Bosh, LaMarcus Aldridge and others.
There is, as always, room for debate in these rankings, but one thing is clear. Paul Millsap is a very, very good basketball player and he's on pace for another All-Star season.