66ers Blog: Millsap Focused on Improving
Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks gave Millsap some advice during Thunder training camp in September, and the first year pro out of UAB is putting those words into practice with the 66ers.
“I’ve improved throughout the season, most of all, defensively,” Millsap said. “Coming out of training camp, coach Brooks, that’s all he really wanted me to work on was defense. He never asked me how many points I scored or how my shooting was going, he always asked me every day during training camp, ‘Are you ready to step on the court and play defense?’
“That’s one of the main points I wanted to focus on coming into the D-League was becoming a better all-around defender.”
With Tulsa head coach Nate Tibbetts and the 66ers coaching staff employing the same defensive principles as Brooks and the Thunder, Millsap said it’s been natural for him to focus on improving his defensive game.
“It is (easy to focus on defense) because that’s their main focus,” Millsap said.”They stress it every day. It helps me along the way.”
Millsap, who is averaging over a steal per game, has caught the eye of his coach with how much his defense has improved since the beginning of the season.
“I think his defense has really come along,” Tibbetts said. “That’s one of the big reasons why the Thunder liked him in training camp is the way he guarded the basketball. I think if you were to ask him, his team defense has really improved, getting to spots, and he’s doing a really good job because of his effort.”
Along with being an overall leader on the court for the 66ers, Millsap is also one of the most durable players. He is the only player to have started all 39 games of the season so far.
This season the Grambling, La., native is averaging 15.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists per contest. He has improved his scoring in each of the first three full months of the season. In 11 games in December, he averaged 12.5 points per game. He increased his average to 16.3 points in 14 January games before making a jump to 17.6 points per game in eight games in February.
Millsap is confident in his abilities, but also said he must continue to improve every day.
“I feel like I can play defense at the next level,” Millsap said. “Now it’s just building on it and just trying to become one of the best defenders I can be. Off the ball, I can be better, so I’m just trying to improve little things like that every day.”