George Hill: Will He Succeed in Running the Spurs' Blistering Fast Break?

Lake CruiseAnalyst IMarch 3, 2011

Jan. 24, 2011: George Hill, left, gives pointers to Gary Neal in Oakland.  Hill is the starting point man for now.
Jan. 24, 2011: George Hill, left, gives pointers to Gary Neal in Oakland. Hill is the starting point man for now.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Nicknamed “Naked George” for his leaked explicit photographs, will Hill’s ball-handling skills expose the Spurs' flaws on offense?  Why, yes.

While “Pretty Tony” is out, could Hill be the best backcourt player on the floor?  Yes.  Confused?  Well, so am I. 

Results have been mixed so far—judging by the Memphis and Cleveland games.  Without Tony, Gary Neal, though, has been the best backcourt baller.

The starters haven’t played enough minutes for me to really see what’s up with them.  With Miami and the Lakers coming to town this weekend, I’ll be able to tell what’s cracking—what's really going on.  And I’ll let you all know.    

From the looks of it, in the first game in their new and temporary roles; Hill, Manu Ginobili and Chris Quinn will get it crackin’ at the one spot.  Reputedly the best man-to-man guarding Spur, the popular Hill’s defense could be distracted by his expanded responsibilities.

The man responsible for all of this, Tony the “Flying Frenchman” Parker, wasn’t the most popular Spur—to say the least—even while he was married to Eva.  His popularity, however, could rise without him being on the floor.  Absence tends to make fans’ hearts fonder.

They’re fond of George Hill—especially the ladies.  But without Parker, the offense will have less imagination when it comes to finishing at the rim—evident early in the Cavs game.

Finding open shooters and finishing fast are Parker’s specialties this season.  The blitzkrieg break I call it. 

Scorching past first waves of defenders and either dropping the bucket or getting to the foul line, he’s been “Tony Buckets.”  The offense kicked the bucket without him in Memphis.

I heard one expert declare Tony's replacement could start for almost any NBA team.  Really?  Could Hill actually be the starting point guard on another NBA team?  Sure—if another starter got injured.  I’m not sure, however, which team.

Even Cleveland—the worst NBA team this decade—now has Baron Davis and Ramon Sessions.  The Clippers have both Randy Foye and Eric Gordon.  Hill would be the third-string point guard for the Paper Clips.

He started against the Cavaliers in the win on Wednesday night.  He could probably start for the Miami Heat, but it’d be a stretch to say he’d remain the starter.  He certainly wouldn’t be the starter on any of the teams the Spurs have played since February.  Maybe the Atlanta Hawks or the Houston Rockets is where he’d fit in as a starter, but who knows?  Only God.

Reports of George Hill’s point guard skills have been greatly exaggerated.  He has the speed to do what Parker does—break through the first wave of defenders and score on the fly.  Finishing at the cup on the fly is sometimes George's issue. 

If the Spurs fast break is curtailed by teams now, then the offense could bog down in half-court sets.  It’s not likely the full-court press will be employed against the Spurs but it could be.  It'd be interesting to see how Hill reacts. 

Tony's calf reaction is expected to ground him for up to a month.  He’ll be rehabbing his lower leg.  There could be a transition period in the final leg of the season for the Spurs after he returns to the lineup. 

With Air Parker being grounded last year in March, he came off the bench in the playoffs, and we know how it turned out.  Phoenix swept the Spurs out of dodge.

The Spurs balled well, though, when Parker broke his hand last year.  They could do it again.

Ginobili is healthy and playing out of his mind right now.  Before the NBA All-Star Weekend, he said he could use a break.  He can’t afford to be tired now.

Hill leads the tired Spurs bench in scoring (11.2 points per game) and Gary Neal is filling his fill his role while Parker rehabilitates.  Hill can now say he was the starting point guard for the team’s 50th win this year.  They only won 50 all of last year and have reached the mark in each of the last 12 seasons.

He’s still learning the point guard position and Tony's helped him the last three seasons, Hill said.  With Tony rehabilitating, George was a little lost—okay, a lot lost.  He seems to be the sensitive kind, but a stand up baller and man.

The getting seasoned Hill said he was thinking too much—trying to be too perfect against Memphis.  He settled down for 22 points, five rebounds and five assists against the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Good job, but are there any NBA teams more ready for spring break—summer break actually—than the Cavaliers?  Um…

Enthusiasm over Hill’s performance should be tempered with a double dose of three-ality.  Against the Spurs, they were without both Baron Davis and Antawn Jamison—both adept three-point shooters.

No excuse.  On Tuesday, the Grizzlies were without Rudy Gay for the whole game and Marc Gasol for half of it and blew the Spurs out.  The Spurs turned the ball over aplenty in Memphis.  Hill only coughed it up once in the first half on Wednesday night in Cleveland.  Good job, Georgie.

Like D’Juan Blair said, George was George against Cleveland—whatever Blair means by his proclamation.  Hill’s tweets sent out somewhat of a suicide watch among his friends and family, but he showed he was stronger emotionally than most people probably perceive.  The people who love him took a sigh of relief after his game Wednesday.

Suicide is a sensitive subject in this country and bullies of proper age should be forced to have their naked photographs posted on the internet.

Speaking of naked, Hill wasn’t forcing the action against the Cavs.  Via Twitter, he said he’d redeem himself and he seemingly did so.  He was wading through defenders like he was surfing on the Gulf Coast.  But he was wading through lowly Cavaliers trying to D-up while they were seemingly on skates or surf boards.

Next up—D. “Flash” Wade.  He knows something about surfing through defenders over there by South Beach.  What will he do against Hill, Ginobili and San Antonio’s backcourt?  He had one of the most spectacular dunks I've ever seen in person at the AT&T Center.  One thing is for sure. 

He’ll be wading.