The San Antonio Spurs were thrilled by George Hill’s progress from his rookie season to his sophomore year in San Antonio.
Given more playing time and defined role, Hill flourished in his second year.
His numbers greatly improved from 5.7 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists on 40.3 percent field goal shooting in 16.5 minutes per game to 12.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists on 47.8 percent shooting from the field while playing 29.2 minutes per ball game.
Hill’s production increased as his minutes went up. But what was even more impressive was his ability to run the Spurs’ offense during Tony Parker’s absence.
Instead of giving in to pressure, he proved to be up to the challenge.
Because of Parker’s injury, Hill was forced into the starting lineup.
He started 43 games in 2009-10 season averaging 15.3 points, 3.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 48.6 percent shooting from the field.
That same year, Hill was instrumental in helping the Spurs to dispatch the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the first-round playoffs.
And in 10 post season games, he managed to put up 13.4 points and 3.1 assists on 45.1 percent field goal shooting while starting in eight games.
This just shows how effective and impressive he was in his sophomore year. Young players tend to get better as they gain more experience and confidence in their game.
Nonetheless, in his third with San Antonio, Hill appeared to have regressed. In 76 regular season games including five starts, he averaged 11.6 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.5 assist while shooting 45.3 percent from the floor in 28.3 minutes per game.
Compared to his second season, Hill’s numbers went down but it weren’t far off. In fact, he developed a significant aspect of his game, improving his free throw shooting accuracy to 86.3 percent from 77.2 percent a year ago.
He was also more aggressive in attacking the basket as he took 270 foul shots in 76 games. Last year, he attempted 237 free throws in 78 games.
On top of that, Hill has developed into a solid perimeter defender for the Spurs.
So why did his numbers went down?
Maybe it’s about his confidence level, his comfort zone, or simply getting the right break. Or maybe it’s a combination of all.
In his three years with the Spurs, Hill has adjusted well to varying roles. However, this time, things were a bit more different.
In his first two seasons, Hill has the luxury of spending most of his floor time with Manu Ginobili. With Manu by his side, he was able to utilize his skills and ability to the fullest and just play his game.
Simply put it. Hill is at best when his is playing with another point guard or a play-maker.
He is a natural shooting guard with a scorer’s ability and instincts. When paired with Gary Neal, he tried to find balance between scoring and passing and that makes him a little tentative at times.
But when he is in his comfort zone, Hill has proven time and again that he can step up to the challenge.
He led the Spurs to victory scoring 22 points off the bench against the Portland Trail Blazers on December 12 and had another 22-point performance on March 2 in a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers with Parker sidelined with a calf injury.
He also posted back-to-back impressive offensive performances in late March. Tying a career-high 30 points against the Memphis Grizzlies on March 27 and then followed it up with 27-point effort against the Blazers the following night.
What should the Spurs expect?
Hill has a great scoring ability, attacks the lane well and is great at drawing contact. If he can use his skills to the fullest, he is definitely a dangerous player on both ends of the floor.
In the right situation, Hill is player that seems to be on the verge of being an All-Star. Otherwise, his ceiling is just solid role player.
To reach that level, Hill should develop his all-around game and must realize his limitations at the two spot. That means, he should try to expand his game to the point that he doesn’t necessarily need another ball handler by his side to be effective and more efficient on offense.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree that George Hill has the potential to be an All-Star? What are the aspects of his game does he need to improve? Tell us what you think.