July 2, 2017, the day Paul Millsap agreed to a three-year, $90 million deal to play basketball for the Denver Nuggets.
An up and coming team with a young star in Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets finally secured a big time free agent which is something that plagued them so many times in the past. After swinging and missing on players like Dwyane Wade and Kevin Love years prior, Denver finally got their guy in perennial all-star, Paul Millsap.
It felt meant to be that Millsap would eventually make his way to Denver as the Nuggets were rumored to be interested in acquiring him for a number of years before he ultimately became a free agent. The fact that it was a homecoming of sorts for Millsap also made the signing even more special as he held his introductory press conference at the Montbello Recreation Center, with was only two miles from where he grew up as a child.
Millsap played a massive role in the Nuggets culture shift, which was already on the rise before he joined the team. Adding a veteran like Millsap helped the Nuggets culture grow even more as he made a positive impact from the moment he stepped in the locker room.
Not only did Millsap play a massive role on the court, but the veteran leadership he brought to the Nuggets locker room was invaluable for rising stars like Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr. After four straight all-star appearances and countless playoff appearances with the Atlanta Hawks, Millsap not only brought playoff experience to the Nuggets, but he brought a winning mindset that was infectious throughout the locker room.
The Nuggets have posted zero losing seasons since Millsap joined the team which followed four straight years with a record below .500. Denver’s worst record with Millsap came in his first year with the Nuggets (2017-18) as Denver went 46-36 and missed the playoffs by just one game. That was also Millsap’s best year statistically — even though he played in just 38 games — with the Nuggets as he averaged 14.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game to go along with a 34.5 percent three-point percentage.
After staying healthy most of his career, Millsap fought a number of injuries during his time with the Nuggets, but found a way to produce every time he was on the floor. Millsap was arguably the Nuggets best three-point shooter just a few seasons ago shooting 43.5 percent from three in 2019-20 and shot 37.1 percent from three over the course of his four year stay in Denver.
It was not always a seamless fit with Millsap as the Nuggets added players like JaMychal Green and Zeke Nnaji this past offseason which made his path to playing time more difficult. Millsap knew his role though and did whatever the Nuggets asked from him without the bat of an eye. Even though he averaged just 20.8 minutes per game last season, Millsap still started in 36 of the 56 games he played averaging 9.0 and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Positive impact was always something Millsap found a way to do. He was as steady as they come during his time in a Nuggets uniform and found a way to help a young team that was in need of a veteran winner to show them the ropes. The four years Millsap spent in a Nuggets uniform were some of the best seasons Denver has put together in franchise history.
Millsap was the perfect signing to help this Nuggets team get to where they are today, which is championship contenders. Even though there was no role for Millsap on this team moving forward, that in no way diminishes the impact he had on this rising young team.
Thank you, Paul Millsap.