Quinn Cook has appeared in just five games, playing a scant 13 minutes, yet there’s a good chance he’ll be unleashed Friday against the Nuggets. Honestly, I can’t wait to watch him play on behalf of the New Orleans Pelicans because he may offer a smart solution for one of the open roster spots next season.
If the front office remains steadfast in their desire to bring back Jrue Holiday and barring any unforeseen trade, the Pelicans are not going to be big spenders come free agency. The problem is they currently have nine guaranteed contracts for next season, plus Dante Cunningham has a player option and Jordan Crawford’s second year is not guaranteed. Additionally, New Orleans is slated to have just one draft pick, and with it being a middling second rounder, there’s practically no hope for an integral rotation piece there.
One of the more popular NBA free agents names floating around is Patty Mills, the sharpshooting reserve guard on the San Antonio Spurs. He is a favorite of many because of his ability to fill up the scoring column, especially from behind the three-point line.
Recently, I surmised Mills would, at a bare minimum, fetch Jamal Crawford type of money, but it sounds like there’s a good bet he’s going to be able to cash a check valued much higher. Try $74 million over four years, or an average of over $18 million a year. With teams like the Nuggets and Sixers looking for help in the backcourt and carrying around a much thicker roll of bills... anyways... moving on!
No, the best way Dell Demps is going to land a Patty Mills is if he can unearth his own Patty Mills. Before you roll your eyes, look at how successful Jordan Crawford has acquitted himself. Stranger things have happened. Even better, Alvin Gentry may already have a promising candidate sitting on the end of the bench.
Earlier this week Kevin mentioned the Mills-Cook comparison and I really like it.
Both players are small shoot-first guards. Mills has shown he can hit the three at a very good rate: 41.7% this season. Cook has also converted a solid 37.7% in the D-League this season. As much as D-League success doesn’t translate into NBA success, on-Spurs success doesn’t always translate to post or pre-Spurs success — see Marco Belinelli.
Despite the similarities, realize the comparison is still a reach: Mills has established himself in the NBA on the strength of an 8-year career, Cook has accumulated a total of 90 minutes in the league. Yet, it’s key to remember that Mills was far from a household name after spending two years in Portland. In fact, he was without an NBA contract to start the 2011-12 season and had to go prove himself abroad; however, averages of 18.6/2.3/5.0 in Australia and then 26.5/3.8/3.8 in China quickly brought him back stateside.
Cook hasn’t spent time overseas yet, but he has posted some rather stout numbers in the D-League. A line of 19.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists led him to win the 2015-16 Rookie of the Year Award. He improved upon that with 26.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists this season. Cook finished as the regular season scoring title winner and took home the 2017 NBA D-League All-Star Game MVP back in February.
“I watch all types of points guards – I’m a Synergy Sports and YouTube addict, so I watch everybody – but I compare myself to someone like Patty Mills,” Cook said. “Being someone who comes off of the bench, brings energy, plays good defense, shoots the ball and plays both positions – as he does alongside Tony Parker sometimes. He’s always ready and he’s a true professional. If he plays two minutes, he’s still excited and clapping on the bench. And if his number is called, he performs because he’s always ready. That’s one player that really sticks in my mind [and someone I compare myself to]. I watch a lot of back-up point guards right now to see how I can help a second unit when the starters aren’t in.”
In the Pelicans season finale against the Nuggets, I observed Cook cheering on the team more often than anyone sitting alongside of him. All thats left to do now is prove himself a lightening rod off the bench much like he did in that preseason game against the Rockets where he dropped 20 points and 8 assists. If he can accomplish anything within the same ballpark, New Orleans may wind up with a much needed cheaper alternative to the real thing, and Cook, a contract for next season.