Patty Mills did not have a good game on Sunday when his Brooklyn Nets lost their 2021-22 home opener to the Charlotte Hornets.
The veteran point guard, just a few games into life as a Net after a decade with the San Antonio Spurs, shot just 2-of-10 from the field with five points in 31 minutes of action while he was a minus-11 on the floor.
Nothing that a little mental adjustment can’t fix.
Monday night saw the Mills the Nets were expecting when they signed him to a two-year contract over the summer. The 33-year-old — whose depth is even more invaluable with Kyrie Irving out of the fold — posted 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting in just 23 minutes during the Nets’ 104-90 victory over the Washington Wizards.
“I think a mindset change,” Mills explained while discussing his turnaround. “That’s always the case. Just being able to assert myself a little bit more… I think last night’s feeling was just not being able to assert myself when I felt like I could. I didn’t want to let that happen again. It’s a mindset.”
There will understandably be some bumps in the road before things smooth out for Mills. He’s trying to assimilate to a brand-new system while co-existing with two of the game’s very best in Kevin Durant and James Harden after leaving the stability of San Antonio and Gregg Popovich.
“This is all new territory for me in the sense of being here and working it all out, figuring it all out,” Mills said. “But that’s probably the most exciting bit of all this — being able to talk about it and learn about it and chat about it with teammates to get to where we want to be.
“Patience is probably the thing we need to have throughout this process and just being able to fine-tune those details along the way.”
It’s only natural that phrases such as “fine-tune” come into the picture. After all, these Nets are like a supercar with the specs under the hood to blow the doors off most teams in the NBA. But Durant and Harden have only played a handful of games together since the latter was acquired in February from the Houston Rockets.
Add that with the additions of Mills and Paul Millsap and the Nets’ 0-to-60 time might lag off the line a bit. Having a player like Mills, though, is only going to help the Nets’ ascent moving in the right direction.
When asked what is most impressive about Mills, Durant simply said his “professionalism.”
“He’s just a true pro through and through,” he continued. “The way he approaches his craft, that’s inspiring to anybody… Just having that energy around every day is amazing… just playing with energy. We’re going to need that from him.”