Over The Hill: Grant Hill's Recent Success Comes At Opportune Time

Sean StancillSenior Writer IJanuary 31, 2009

The Suns' struggles this season have been well-documented this season as contrasting styles and inopportune trades have whittled down team chemistry

Steve Nash's reluctance to submit to Terry Porter's now-indoctrinated vogue of more defense than offense has the former two-time MVP facing the realization of his lowest assist total in more than five seasons.

Despite his recent success, Nash has 10 games in which he recorded six assists or fewer though his first 40 games after failing to do so only three times at this juncture a year ago.

Meanwhile, fellow adjuster Shaquille O'Neal has flourished—he was elected to his 15th All-Star Game (2nd All-Time).

Surprisingly, former NBA phenom Grant Hill has quietly been the backbone of the myopic Suns' team this season and has begun to egress as Phoenix's most dependable journeyman not named Steve Nash or Shaquille O'Neal.

How about these numbers: The Suns are 8-4 when Hill logs 36 minutes or more this season; 3-1 when he blocks two shots or more and 11-6 when he makes five shots or more outscoring their opponents 107-43 in those games.

Furthermore, the Suns are 29-10 since Hill's arrival when he converts on five-plus shots from the field. 

But none may loom bigger than this: Grant Hill has played in all 44 games this season. It’s a monument in its own right considering the fact it’s the first time he's been able to accomplish that since his second year in the league when Grant was a youthful gazelle sprinting up and down the court as a Detroit Piston. 

Needless to say, healthy Hill has always been one of the best players in the NBA and he's continued the streak to a lesser extent, as one of the best on his team.

The 13-year veteran has two double-doubles this season after racking up only four in 70 games last season despite averaging the lowest minutes of his career.

Hill has reached double-figures 26 times this season and has five 20-plus-point games while shooting 50.8 percent, the second highest mark of his career and the highest since 2004-05 when he and then-rookie Dwight Howard for the Phoenix Suns. 

In the recent installment of their heated rivalry, the Suns and Spurs proved to be a proving ground for Grant Hill—not that he needed one—and displayed how important he is to their team.

Hill exploded on fastbreaks and featured an array of hesitation dribbles to draw defenders out of position an propel him towards the rim—he had 2 three-point plays on layups as a result—and he continued his hot shooting coming out of intermission, sinking his first three shots to fuel the Suns as the game progressed on his way to a 20-10 performance—a feat that is usually handed to bigs Shaq and Amare.

In the closing seconds of the game, Hill blocked Tony Parker's jumpshot and raced down the other end of the floor converting on a layup while being fouled. The and-one cut the deficit to three, though the Suns suffered the loss.