Hawks’ Patty Mills stars for Australia in FIBA World Cup win over Finland

Atlanta Hawks, Patty Mills. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
Atlanta Hawks, Patty Mills. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Hawks made a select few veteran additions this offseason.

One of the few they did make was acquiring veteran guard Patty Mills in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Mills, 35, who was traded three times this offseason, ended the 2022-23 campaign with the Brooklyn Nets who traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder who then sent him to the Hawks.

He is a former champion, helping the San Antonio Spurs win the title in 2014, and has logged plenty of minutes in his 14-year NBA career.

All of those minutes – 17,580 to be exact – haven’t sapped him of all of his ability just yet, though, which Mills proved in the 2023 FIBA World Cup opener between his native Australia and Finland.

“Talk about making an impact,” posted FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 on X. “Patty Mills claims the TCL Player of the Game crown in his first #FIBAWC game in Okinawa”

Mills added four steals and two assists in nearly 29 minutes, leading the Boomers to the 98-72 victory. He is a bit of a legend on the international stage, averaging 21-plus points per game in each of the last three Olympics and 22.8 points per game in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

He’s also been a thorn in the side of Team USA in the past.

The Boomers knocked Team USA out of the 2019 FIBA World Cup on the strength of a 30-point explosion from Mills.

“Mills has always been many things to Australian basketball. Australian culture, actually. He is an NBA champion. A ten-year NBA veteran playing in San Antonio. Mills is a spokesperson for Indigenous Australia,” wrote Benjiman Mallis for The Pick and Roll in 2019. “Away from the court, he has a presence that grows every time he returns to his homeland.”

He provided some tough defense alongside Aussie teammate and fellow NBAer, Matisse Thybulle of the Philadelphia 76ers too. Mills and the Boomers next take the court on August 27 against Germany. After that, it’s Japan on August 29 before moving on to the knockout round.

And Mills is still productive in the NBA when given the chance.

He averaged 13.0 points in the three games in which he played at least 20 minutes last season, and averaged 18.0 points in the four games he played at least 30 minutes.

Other Hawks players’ schedules for the 2023 FIBA World Cup

While Mills got the win, reserve big man Bruno Fernando recorded 13 points, five rebounds, and two assists in Angola’s 81-67 loss to Italy. Their next tilt will be on August 27 against the Philipines, and wrap up the qualifying round against the Dominican Republic on August 29.

Fernando and Mills will be two games into their 2023 FIBA World Cup experience by the time teammate Bogdan Bogdanovic and Serbia play their first match on August 28 against China.

Bogdanovic is a captain for this year’s team. He will have one other NBA player on the roster with him in Miami Heat prospect Nikola Jovic, though his attempts to recruit friend and Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic fell short following the latter’s lengthy postseason run.

The good news for the Hawks is all three players should come into training camp in great shape from the start.

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And, with high expectations for this season, it’s all hands on deck from starters to bench players to deep reserves.