On Sunday, the Utah Jazz called up Elijah Millsap of the Bakersfield Jam: a D-League team. The following day, the 6-foot-6 Millsap made his NBA regular season debut by scoring two points, getting one steal, distributing four assists and grabbing five rebounds in a little more than 18 minutes against the Indiana Pacers.
The road to the NBA had been a long journey for Millsap. His journey to the NBA began on April 9, 2010.
On April 9, 2010, Millsap announced that he was forgoing his final year of eligibility, his senior season, to declare for the upcoming NBA Draft. Some of his accomplishments from his only season at UAB, he attended Louisiana-Lafayette from 2006-2008 before transferring to UAB, included Conference USA coaches and some media members naming him as a member of the All-Conference USA men's basketball first-team and leading the conference with 9.5 rebounds per game.
A few months later, June 24, Millsap was one of dozens of players who went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft. He participated in a summer league for the Detroit Pistons, shortly after the draft.
Millsap finished that summer league with 27 points, 20 rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks in four games. Shortly after that summer league ended, Sept. 26, the Oklahoma City Thunder signed him to a multi-year contract.
He participated in their training camp and received limited minutes in four preseason games. Millsap finished that preseason with 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists and one block in 50.2 total minutes.
Millsap's agent Daniel Hazan said what his client probably learned from the 2010 summer league and training camp along with additional summer leagues and training camps.
"I think the biggest advice he probably got was to stay focus and to continue to be as aggressive as he is," Hazan said. "Good things happen when he is aggressive defensively and offensively. Just never lay back and continue that. He took that into the D-League with Bakersfield and he did that by putting up great statistics. It ended up working out really well for him."
On Oct. 30, the Thunder allocated him to the Tulsa 66ers: a D-League team. He ended up starting 44 of 50 games for the 66ers that season.
Millsap finished that season with 15.22 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.22 steals and 0.34 blocks per game. Hazan said what his client probably learned from that D-League season along with additional D-League seasons.
"It has definitely helped him prepare to play in the NBA," Hazan said. "Playing in the D-League and playing under the school of NBA. You are with the best trainers and you are pretty much in the NBA without being in the NBA. The coaching staff are at a high level and everything is at the pinnacle of professionalism. It teaches you how to be a professional and it gives you the ability to showcase your talents. We have seen that payoff with him getting this call up."
From the conclusion of that season to this past September, Millsap's various basketball stop included attending the Lakers 2011 training camp, playing a little more than two seasons with the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the D-League and playing in Israel and the Philippines.
The one thing that has been constant for Millsap is the support of his family and friends. Hazan said how his family has supported him throughout this journey.
"They have been very instrumental in his success," Hazan said. "From a young age, working with him and supporting him. Especially his brother Paul, guiding him in the proper direction on and off the floor to get to this point."
On Sept. 23, Millsap signed a non-guarantee contract with the Milwaukee Bucks to attend their training camp, according to RealGM.com. He ended up scoring four points, grabbing one rebound and dishing out one assist in a little less than seven minutes in one preseason game.
Twelve days after Millsap became a free agent, Oct. 30, he returned to the Fenders. This stint on the Fenders lasted just one day before the Jam acquired him.
Millsap was playing terrific basketball for the Jam in his first 19 games with the team. He was averaging 20.58 points, 8.26 rebounds, 5.21 assists, 2.11 steals and 0.26 blocks per game.
Prior to Sunday, the Jazz had been dealing with injuries to their shooting guards like Alec Burks and Rodney Hood, according to Andy Larsen of SaltCityHoops.com. The Jazz might have been thinking about trying to resolve that issue when they called up Millsap on Sunday and signed him to a 10-day contract the following day, according to Hazan Sports Management's website.
Hazan said what Millsap is hoping to accomplish during this 10-day contract and what his mindset is.
"He's just ready to come and contribute in whatever way possible and to generate some wins for the team," Hazan said. "If he does that, then the rest will come.
"He's just focused. He's ready if his name is called, to come in and to contribute in whatever possible way. It's just another opportunity for him and we're very confident about his chances with the Jazz organization."
This is the first client of Hazan's that has ended up playing in the NBA and he was ecstatic by the recent development for Millsap.
"For us (Hazan Sports Management) he needed as much attention as possible and we really wanted to make sure that he was getting the proper looks and proper attention," Hazan said. "We tried to put him in the best situation; including the summer league with Philadelphia, training camp with the Bucks and now with Utah. What we wanted to give him was the best possible opportunity and give him what he deserved, which was a shot at the NBA. I think he definitely accomplished that.
"It feels amazing and it has been very gratifying. It has been countless, countless nights working to try to achieve his dream and our dreams. It has been really nice because we have had the same goals and we have finally accomplished that. It's been a big thing for the agency and it has been a crazy 24 to 48 hours."
Hazan described Millsap as a player and which current NBA player he most resembles.
"I would describe him as defensive minded," Hazan said. "He has a nose for rebounding and has a nose for the ball, very athletic and excellent at getting to the hole. Also, he can draw contact to get himself to the free throw line and he can shut down the opposing team's best offensive player.
"(He would say the) same exact thing (to describe himself as a player). He's quiet and very humble. He's also very passionate about the game.
"I would probably say it would be closer to P.J. Tucker from the Phoenix Suns. Not only because of his style, but also because of his journey. Tucker's journey is very similar to Elijah because Tucker got to the league at 27 and he also had some bumps along the way. I would probably say Tucker is the one that most resembles him and also Jimmy Butler as well; two defensive minded players."
Millsap did not start the game for the Jazz, but he made his NBA regular season debut when he subbed in for Gordon Hayward with 3:42 remaining in the first quarter.
Millsap ended up scoring two points, grabbing one steal, distributing four assists and grabbing five rebounds in 18 minutes as the Pacers defeated the Jazz by the final score of 105-101. Hazan said in a Facebook message what Millsap's thoughts were after his first NBA regular season game.
"He felt pretty good and a little tired from the altitude, but good," Hazan said.
Millsap's next game will be on Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls.
*I do apologize for some of the text appearing in an 'odd' color. That color occurred after I attached a hyperlink to some words in the article.