San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich once called the point guard out of IUPUI his favorite player, according to Arash Markazi of Sports Illustrated. Considering that Pop is arguably the best coach in the NBA, that’s some seriously high praise.
It was clearly a tough decision for Popovich and the Spurs to part ways with George Hill, but shipping him to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for 15th overall draft pick Kawhi Leonard proved to be the right choice.
After the trade, Hill’s scoring average dipped to 9.6 points per game on 44.2 percent shooting from the field (both the lowest totals since his rookie year). Despite regressing statistically in his first year with the Pacers, Indy rewarded Hill with a five-year, $40 million contract.
The timing of the deal was certainly odd. I admit to being critical of the Pacers’ decision at the time, because giving $40 million to a guy who didn’t average double-digit points had me scratching my head.
Fortunately for Indiana, the move worked out. Hill’s numbers improved across the board, as he notched career highs with 14.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game during the 2012-13 campaign.
A concussion Hill sustained in Round 2 kept him out of the Game 5 loss against the New York Knicks, but aside from that bump in the road, Hill’s postseason has been solid.
Not only have Hill’s scoring averages increased to 15.2 points per game in Round 1 and 16.2 points per game in Round 2, but according to ESPN Stats and Information, his presence on the court has led to higher efficiency.
Hill has clearly been a positive influence on Indiana’s offense, but he’s making an even bigger impact on the defensive end.
According to Basketball Reference, the offensive rating of Pacers opponents in the postseason is 97.2 points per 100 possessions when Hill is on the court. When he heads to the bench, that number explodes to 108.4 points per 100 possessions. That’s a differential of 11.2 points per 100 possessions when Hill is off the court versus when he’s on it.
That statistic can be attributed to the lineup he plays with, but it’s staggering regardless.
If he wasn’t considered the ultimate team player before, he should certainly be in the conversation now.