Is George Hill really the long-term solution at the point guard spot for the Indiana Pacers?
He promptly responded with career-highs in points (14.2), rebounds (3.7), assists (4.7) and steals (1.1), helping the Pacers reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since the 2003-04 season.
In spite of Hill's respectable showing, Indiana struggled mightily in terms of its offense and playmaking—two areas management tried to address with the acquisitions of Chris Copeland, Luis Scola and C.J. Watson.
A closer look at the positive and negative aspects of Hill's game ought to give Pacers fans an idea if he really is the long-term answer at point guard.
As evidenced by the above shot chart, George Hill is a capable offensive player with good shot selection.
Overall, he shot .443 from the field—a figure which he can still improve on considering he shot .478 in his sophomore season with the San Antonio Spurs.
He also has a nice repertoire which includes forays to the basket, fast-break dunks, medium-range jumpers and three-points shots.
Hill is also a capable defender who can make you pay. He has above-average anticipation with his 1.1 steals-per-game average as hard evidence.
Plus, he also keeps his turnovers down. As a matter of fact, Hill's 3.06 assist-to-turnover ratio ranked him seventh overall last season.
Finally, Hill's leadership and toughness are underestimated.
Don't forget him ripping the fans for their lack of support in a March game against the Los Angeles Lakers—a much-needed reality check which paved the way for an outstanding home-game environment at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the postseason.
He also shook off the effects of the concussion he suffered in Game 4 against the New York Knicks to score in double digits in five of the seven games against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Mark Montieth of Pacers.com raises some interesting questions about Hill being a shooting guard trapped in a point guard's body.
It will be interesting to see where his career goes from here. Does Hill learn to love being a point guard? Does he get to slide over to shooting guard? Does he eventually become a backup at both positions? He's paid like a starting point guard, so that seems to be his fate for now.
Montieth also adds Hill "doesn't attempt to hide the fact he's more comfortable" at shooting guard, yet is undersized for the 2-spot.
The major concern here is Hill's mindset—he wants to be one thing but the hard reality is he's the Pacers' main man at point guard. Will this yearning eventually throw him off his game over the long haul?
Judging from his 2012-13 season alone, where he had career highs in several statistical categories , the answer is no.
Hill, as previously mentioned, is not turnover-prone. However, he does have a tendency to lose the ball when pressured in half-court sets.
Case in point is the above video where Raymond Felton and Kenyon Martin gang up on Hill off an attempted pick-and-roll. Hill loses the ball and the Knicks capitalize for the easy Martin slam on the other end.
Finally, there is the issue of consistency.
Hill can explode for 15-20 points on three straight nights, but can struggle mightily for just six points the next time up.
The Final Verdict
In spite of him playing out of position, George Hill has enjoyed relative success in his first year as Indiana's starting point guard.
Hill, just like his buddy Paul George, is a virtuoso who can deliver the goods in many areas such as jumpers, floaters, threes, steals and assists.
For him to be even more effective, he has to embrace his role as point guard even more, a la Vern Fleming, another Pacer who played out of position for Indiana in the 1980s.
Hill also has to be more consistent.
The most important thing to remember is the Pacers went 49-32 and pushed the Miami Heat to a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals in a season with Hill directing the flow of the offense.
As a parting shot, it is still relatively early to tell if Hill is really the long-term answer. After all, it's been only one season since he took over from Darren Collison.
Hill is young (27 years old), a tremendous homegrown asset to the Indianapolis community and was a stabilizing force to a Pacers squad that's primed to contend for years to come.
Give it one more season. If George Hill comes up with another respectable campaign and if the Pacers ultimately win their first NBA title, he is, without a doubt, their man at the point guard spot.
If the Pacers fall short again, then it may be time to call on somebody else.