NBA 2011-12: 1 Thing the Clippers Need To Be a Serious Contender: Grant Hill

Shel HillContributor IIINovember 30, 2011

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 14:  Head coach Alvin Gentry of the Phoenix Suns talks with Grant Hill #33 during the NBA game against the Portland Trail Blazers at US Airways Center on January 14, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the 115-111.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Young, talented, gifted, exciting, athletic: all words that sound great when describing a basketball team, a high school basketball team. But when describing the Los Angeles Clippers, different words are needed to help them get to the playoffs and be taken seriously. Words like experience, intelligent, calm and balance all come to mind. These words don't describe anyone on the Clippers' current roster, but they do describe Grant Hill.

Grant Hill is 39 years old. He has an extremely high basketball IQ. He is healthy and productive. And he is an unrestricted free agent. These are all perfect reasons why the Clippers, if they truly want to be taken seriously, should do everything and anything they can to acquire him.

The Clippers have a budding star in Eric Gordan and a blossoming superstar in Blake Griffin. But these young stars are having to learn how to win in the NBA by trial and error. Usually with the Clippers the season begins with trial and ends with error. Grant Hill is a player that can cure that. He has been through major adversity in his career coming back from many ankle surgeries and defying what many thought would be an end to his career. Before the injuries began he was on his way to becoming a superstar himself, so Griffin and Gordan could definitely benefit from having him around.

His IQ would be well served at the end of games where the Clippers usually let games slip by, not giving it to the right person at the right time. Hill would be that driving force to play point forward, just in certain possessions, to ensure Griffin or Gordan touched the ball when they should, similar to the role Scottie Pippen played at the end of games during the Bulls' championship years. Pippen played point forward at the end of games, allowing Jordan to post up or come off screens.

Not only is Grant Hill's experience and knowledge key to the Clippers' success, but his play on the court is still better than all three small forwards the Clippers currently have on the team. Hill, at 39, shot 48 percent from the field last year and 39 percent from beyond the arc. He also only turned the ball over one-and-a-half times a game. He averaged 30.1 minutes a game and averaged 13.2 points per game, and again I'll remind you, he's 39.

The Clippers trio of small forwards, Jamario Moon, Ryan Gomes and Al-Farouq Aminu combined averaged 16.1 points per outing between the three and totaled 61 minutes. Gomes had the highest field-goal percentage with 41 and also shot the highest from the three-point line with 34 percent.

According to Brian Windhorst from ESPN, the Miami Heat may also be interested in Hill's services, and rightfully so. Hill is the type of player that won't complain about big minutes throughout the season, and because of his age he would benefit by playing less minutes by having fresh legs during a playoff run. Some may be thinking that the Clippers just don't have the money to afford Hill. Hill is at the stage of his career that the league veteran exception is what he'd accept and that is exactly what the Clippers should do.

If push came to shove, a sign and trade shouldn't be out of the question either, packaging a couple of the aforementioned small forwards to a team in need of depth and players, like the Charlotte Hornets, who currently have six players under contract. The bottom line is the Clippers need to do something to get themselves over the hill and become relevant in the West, and signing Hill is a definite way to do it.