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Thread: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

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    Default Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    I know, it's the Bleacher Report, but when the columnist actually knows his ****, I'm willing to give some time to read.


    Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers
    By Ian Levy
    Bleacher Report.com
    Click on the link for included video:
    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1...ard-for-pacers
    Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers
    By Ian Levy

    Over the past three seasons, the Indiana Pacers have slowly transformed themselves into a juggernaut. This year, they've been steamrolling their way through the Eastern Conference with a destructive defense and steadily improving offense.

    This blossoming has been the product of player development, careful scheming, committed execution and a deep roster filled with overlapping skill sets. Top-to-bottom versatility and the way each player's skills can help complement and elevate their teammates in a variety of ways is one of the biggest reasons for their success, but it also makes it difficult to accurately judge the impact of each individual player.

    When it comes to the Pacers, the challenge of sussing out the relative value of each piece on the roster always seems to wind up focusing on George Hill.

    This week, with the Pacers in the middle of a dream season, Hill's name was included in a ridiculous, unverified trade "rumor" that had him headed to Boston, along with Danny Granger and a first-round pick, for Rajon Rondo. Indy Cornrows quickly pointed out that the rumored trade wasn't technically possible as reported:

    At first glance, this rumor does not seem very credible given that the Pacers already sent their first round pick in "next year's loaded NBA Draft" to Phoenix when they acquired Luis Scola. Adding insult to injury, the supposed trade also has Boston taking back far too much salary—unless, of course, there are other unspecified teams or players involved.

    But as bizarre as the specifics of that rumor were, the fact that Hill was even mentioned speaks to how little his contributions to the Pacers are appreciated.

    Hill mans the point for the Pacers despite spending his entire college career and the majority of his first three NBA seasons with the San Antonio Spurs as a shooting guard.

    In a postgame interview (as transcribed by Pacers.com's Mark Montieth) last year, Hill himself acknowledged that he was still growing into his role as a point guard: "I'm reluctant to play the one. I'm happy with it, I'm learning, but there's still some two in my body."

    His per-game statistics—10.8 points, 3.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds—don't exactly stir the imagination and certainly don't scream top-tier point guard. In today's NBA, point guards are supposed to be devastating scorers or dominating distributors. Hill is neither, and it gives the illusion that the Pacers have a hole at his position.

    But if you move beyond per-game statistics, we find him standing out quite a bit more. According to Basketball-Reference, he is ranked in the top 20 in the league in win shares per 48 minutes among guards, both this year and last.

    Ultimately, the exact quantities of his individual numbers don't matter, it's what he does for the team. This season, even with a competent back-up in C.J. Watson, the Pacers are 7.7 points better per 100 possessions with Hill on the floor.

    But because his contributions don't come in the typical ways we've come to expect from a point guard, it can be easy to miss exactly what he gives the Pacers at both ends of the floor.



    Defense

    Defense is the Pacers' calling card, and although his contributions can get overshadowed by those of Roy Hibbert and Paul George, Hill is often the glue holding everything together.

    Where the Pacers' team defense really shines is swallowing pick-and-rolls and stifling dribble penetration. Hill can be a key component of that strength in two different ways—on and off the ball.

    On high pick-and-rolls, the Pacers will generally defend by having their big man drop back into the lane, conceding space in the mid-range area and walling off the basket. The player defending the ball-handler is responsible for getting over the top of the pick as quickly as possible and recovering to the ball. The wings pinch in, trying to direct the penetration to the dropping big man while still maintaining contact with perimeter shooters.

    In this example against the Celtics, you can see the basic set-up.

    NBA.com

    Hibbert has already dropped, and George and Stephenson are ready to jump out and funnel Jordan Crawford toward Hibbert if the ball comes to their side of the floor. Hill has fought his way over the top of the screen and will be in Crawford's hip pocket as he continues his drive.

    Defense at the point of attack in the pick-and-roll is incredibly important to what the Pacers do. As adept as Hibbert has become at retreating and protecting the paint in these situations, he also counts on help from the ball-handler's defender to recover and make a mid-range jumper a difficult proposition.

    Hill is very good at getting over the top of these high screens and recovering to the shooter. He can be exceptionally disruptive when trailing the play and challenging those shooters from behind or from the side.

    Here, he's able to get over the top of a screen and get back to Kemba Walker in time to block his pull-up jumper.

    On side pick-and-rolls, the Pacers usually employ a strategy called ICE. As an opponent sets up for a side pick-and-roll, the big man will call out "ICE." The on-ball defender is then responsible for jumping out in front of the screen, discouraging the ball-handler from going over the top and sending them back toward the baseline and a waiting big man.

    Positioning and awareness are big strengths of Hill's, and when playing ICE, he does a fantastic job of getting out high and recovering to keep himself in the play. Although the example below resulted in Hibbert picking up his third foul, he and Hill do a textbook job of using ICE to stymie a pick-and-roll between Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem.

    Variations on the pick-and-roll have become the offensive bread and butter for many teams, and often the ball-handler will not be a point guard. So while Hill's abilities to disrupt pick-and-rolls on the ball are incredibly important, his ability to also play the part of a wing in the Pacers' scheme is one of the things that makes him so important.

    When Hill is defending off the ball, his responsibilities are to support the pick-and-roll strategies mentioned above while still making sure openings aren't created on the perimeter. This usually means shading toward the ball while still keeping close enough to close out effectively on a shooter.

    Here, the Heat are attacking Hibbert with a Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh pick-and-roll. You can see Hill has set up in a place where Wade's penetration will be directed back toward Hibbert well before reaching the rim. However, he's still close enough to close out on his man, Chalmers, if he received the kick out.

    NBA.com

    This next example is not a pick-and-roll, but you can see Hill walking the same delicate tightrope. Here, he's shading down toward a LeBron post-up while still hanging close enough to Chalmers (just out of the frame) to deter a kick out.

    NBA.com

    On those occasions where the ball does go back out to Hill's man, he uses his speed and length to challenge the shot. What often looks like an open perimeter shot turns out not to be as Hill recovers.

    In many ways, the three perimeter positions in the Pacers' defensive scheme are interchangeable. Each player needs to be able to aggressively fight through screens when defending the ball and maintain a balance of positioning off the ball.

    There are plenty of point guards in the league who excel in one of those two areas. Far fewer are able to claim both as defensive strengths. Not only can Hill do both, but he's also 6'3" with an enormous wingspan.

    The combination of size and defensive acumen allows the Pacers defense to be flexibly rigid. Because Hill, George and Stephenson are all able to handle the different roles required by their scheme, personnel can adjust on the floor, and the same scheme can be used to stop almost any sort of attack by almost any variation of players.



    Offense

    On offense, Hill really only has three responsibilities—initiate the offense, spot-up on the wings and push the ball in transition.

    The Pacers rely heavily on system and movement to create open shots, so Hill is rarely asked to use his individual skills to create openings for himself or teammates. Often initiating the offense means pounding the ball at the top of the key, allowing action to unfold in front of him and waiting to drop the ball off to either West or Hibbert at the elbow, or to Stephenson or George coming off a curl or a pin-down screen near the free-throw line.

    However, when those actions don't create the openings they're designed to, Hill is left to create on a shorter shot clock. He's been inconsistent with his decision making in the pick-and-roll, averaging just 0.65 points per possession, according to mySynergySports (subscription required). Some of this is still arriving at a comfort level between finding teammates and looking for his own shot, but it can create the illusion that he's a far more limited offensive creator than he really is.

    In 2010-2011, his last season with the Spurs, Hill scored an average of 0.91 points per possession in the pick-and-roll while working primarily as a shooting guard.

    Part of what restricts his pick-and-roll game in Indiana is when and where the Pacers ask him to run them. In San Antonio, he was often running side pick-and-rolls as a secondary action after the defense had already been moved. In Indiana, he's often running high pick-and-rolls as an initial action against a set defense or against a short shot clock after the first components of a set failed.

    These situations have generally not been good for the Pacers, but they're the one place where Hill hasn't really been able to give the team what they need. These sorts of possessions are easy to identify and happen to be unfortunately memorable because they often end with a wild shot or a turnover from Hill.

    Basically, he looks worse in these situations because he's often being forced to try and find a solution for a team failure. It would be nice if the Pacers could get a little more aggressiveness and consistency from his pick-and-roll play, but the problem could also be solved by more creativity or better execution with their other offensive sets.

    The nice thing about the Pacers is that Hill is not their only ball-handler, and they don't always need him to fill that role. Both Stephenson and George will step in and initiate the offense instead of Hill, replicating some of the interchangeability between the three players that we saw at the defensive end.

    Once the ball has been moved out of Hill's hands, he's usually moving to the wings to spot-up. He's been a potent weapon from the outside this season, hitting 38 percent of his three-point shots. He has a quick release and does a great job of finding open space and making himself available.

    He's also very good attacking close outs and creating off the dribble against a scattered defense.

    The last place where we can really see Hill's importance to the Pacers offense is in transition. Although they don't push the tempo as much as other teams, they do run selectively and use it as an antidote for some of their scoring problems in the half-court.

    Here again, we see that versatility is the key. Hill's size and quickness make him a very good defensive rebounder for his position, and when a defensive possession takes him close to the basket, he'll often grab the rebound and lead the break.

    But Stephenson and George also have this ability to find teammates in the open court. Instead of always coming back to get the ball, Hill is often able to let someone else lead the break, while leaking out in transition to find easy scoring opportunities for himself.

    Versatility in transition is a really under-appreciated quality. A lot of teams have very defined roles when they get out on the fast break—certain players handle the ball, some fill lanes, others trail and spot up. But when Hill, Stephenson and George are on the floor, all three players are able to mix and match responsibilities.

    Ironically, we see that some of the same things that make Hill so valuable at the defensive end are what make him important to the Pacers offense as well. Duplication can oftentimes be a curse, but the way Stephenson, Hill and George overlap gives the Pacers all sorts of offensive and defensive versatility.

    There are undoubtedly more talented point guards in the NBA, some of whom may even be realistic trade targets for the Pacers. But those more talented players generally have their talents focused around certain areas, to the detriment of others. While Hill may not be outstanding in any single area, his ability to do so many things well, at both ends of the floor, is what makes him such a perfect fit for the Pacers.



    Statistical support for this story from NBA.com/stats.
    Last edited by Sandman21; 12-27-2013 at 05:21 PM.
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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Bleacher Report has been hiring a ton of professional writers this year. Not sure if this guy is one of them, but they are no longer just filled with crappy writers. The overall quality has been improving...

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Bleacher Report has taken a turn for the better, actually, so I'm not surprised. Levy is the founder and editor of Hickory-High.com and a contributor to Hardwood Paroxysm so he's a pretty good writer.
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    Can see thru wooden doors dal9's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Look at BR calling out people for "ridiculous, unverified trade "rumors""

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Good article. Hill is seriously underrated all around because he's not flashy and doesn't put up big stats. People conveniently ignore how he plays with the rest of the team and his defense.

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by dal9 View Post
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    Look at BR calling out people for "ridiculous, unverified trade "rumors""
    When its a guy like Levy writing for them, I think they can get away with calling out "Business Journals" for making up NBA trade rumors.
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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by PacersHomer View Post
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    Good article. Hill is seriously underrated all around because he's not flashy and doesn't put up big stats. People conveniently ignore how he plays with the rest of the team and his defense.

    People also tend to forget Game 5 against NY last year when the team clearly missed his presence.

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by Sollozzo View Post
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    People also tend to forget Game 5 against NY last year when the team clearly missed his presence.
    Or all of the games he came up clutch in last year. The opening game against Toronto and the Lakers game in LA come to mind.

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by PacersHomer View Post
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    Good article. Hill is seriously underrated all around because he's not flashy and doesn't put up big stats. People conveniently ignore how he plays with the rest of the team and his defense.
    Which is sad since we are supposed to be a fanbase that can appreciate substance over flash.

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by Mad-Mad-Mario View Post
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    Which is sad since we are supposed to be a fanbase that can appreciate substance over flash.
    So we blame Lance for the Hill dissing?
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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    The article is not pasted in line with our rules, please make sure it IS so in an hour ?

    thanks

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    I agree, it's just that he is inconsistent, I just want George Hill to come out aggressive 80% of the time instead of 40%

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by able View Post
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    The article is not pasted in line with our rules, please make sure it IS so in an hour ?

    thanks

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    All good now, Senor?
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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandman21 View Post
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    All good now, Senor?
    yes my friend, exactly as it should be so thanks for saving me once again from the nasty lawsuits
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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by able View Post
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    The article is not pasted in line with our rules, please make sure it IS so in an hour ?

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    I have a question. Why is the house keeping almost always done inside the thread? Why not do it in private message?

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Hill is not the perfect PG for this team, but he's good enough to "get it done". That cannot be said for many PG's (e.g. TJ, DC, DJ, etc.) that have donned Pacer jerseys in the last 20 years. So, props to GHill. I am and have been a fan.

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by Eleazar View Post
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    I have a question. Why is the house keeping almost always done inside the thread? Why not do it in private message?
    For a rule violation as relatively minor as article sourcing, I found that as a one-time forum administrator myself, you are honestly better off asking it publicly so that others who may get the same request down the road don't think they are being singled out. Keeps a little more e-drama out of everyone's lifes.

    Obviously, for more severe rule violations that don't need to be carried out in the view of the public, then of course, its better to do the housekeeping via PM.
    "Nobody wants to play against Tyler Hansbrough NO BODY!" ~ Frank Vogel

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandman21 View Post
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    For a rule violation as relatively minor as article sourcing, I found that as a one-time forum administrator myself, you are honestly better off asking it publicly so that others who may get the same request down the road don't think they are being singled out. Keeps a little more e-drama out of everyone's lifes.

    Obviously, for more severe rule violations that don't need to be carried out in the view of the public, then of course, its better to do the housekeeping via PM.
    It's a good teaching tool. While the rules are there for everyone to read, examples help.

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    I agree with the article. George Hill is certainly good enough to help lead our team to a championship. Stephenson is the distributor for our team, Hill is just asked to help handle the ball and be a good role player. And George Hill is a pretty damn good role player

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Hill is a glue guy... he's a calming influence. He's the floor general. I think he's extremely under-rated on these forums sometimes. It's not about numbers.... basketball is about winning plays. There's a lot of fans out there who haven't yet learned how to watch the game, and instead focus on the guys scoring the points and looking at the stat sheet. Hill is one of those guys you can't do that with. I think he plays championship-level basketball. I also think he willingly takes a back seat to the 4 other guys because someone has to. I get the feeling that if Hill was to go to a crappy team, he'd average 18-20+ points a game without even thinking about it, if the coach just told him, "Go out and score, you got a green light." Right now, he's more focused on setting up the offense, playing defense on the wing, spacing the floor, getting guys out into space, and every once in awhile, when it seems like our team is flat, you see Hill assert himself in an effort to try to get the offense going again, and he's pretty damn ice cold-blooded scoring the ball when he needs to be late in the game. It's all extremely important to the whole machine. He's extremely intelligent, level-headed, makes very few mistakes. He's playing the role perfectly.
    Last edited by Kid Minneapolis; 12-27-2013 at 07:28 PM.
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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueCollarColts View Post
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    I agree with the article. George Hill is certainly good enough to help lead our team to a championship. Stephenson is the distributor for our team, Hill is just asked to help handle the ball and be a good role player. And George Hill is a pretty damn good role player
    Hill is also not afraid of pressure or any other player in the league. He's not as bold as Lance but he has no fear. Tough guy and tough guy mentally. I am glad he's our starting PG even if I know there are better options. Just because he's not one of our top 4 players does not mean he's not good enough.

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Quote Originally Posted by Nuntius View Post
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    .......a contributor to Hardwood Paroxysm so he's a pretty good writer.
    I don't think I could work for a place whose name I can't pronounce.

    Also - I think, for this team and these players, it may be more accurate to just call them guards, as opposed to point guard and shooting guard. Each of the guys really do a bit of both.
    Last edited by Tom White; 12-27-2013 at 07:58 PM.

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    I have to disagree pretty strongly on the transition offense. Hill is fine filling a lane, but his hesitancy when handling the ball on the break has kept me pretty frustrated these past years.

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    Default Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Poin...

    I think in some ways Hill has been a victim of the other starters' success. When you have three All-Stars and an up-and-coming triple double machine making up the rest of your starting lineup you're not going to look as good by comparison. But that in no way makes Hill a bad player.

    I just wish that didn't translate into "OMG George Hill sucks let's trade him." He's a good compliment to the rest of our lineup.

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    Default Re: Bleacher Report: Stop Searching for Replacements, George Hill Is Perfect Point Guard for Pacers

    Why all of the hate for George Hill. He is a good compliment for our team and is versatile enough that he can play either guard spots. He is a capable defender and has great shooting range.

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