Suns News

Position Breakdown: Suns Small Forwards

Hill is heading into his 17th NBA season.
(P.A. Molumby/NBAE/Getty Images)
Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: Sept. 21, 2010

GRANT HILL

With 16 NBA seasons under his belt, Suns captain Grant Hill has been the model of consistency since arriving in the Valley in 2007.

“I think the big thing with Grant, once you’re here with him, is that you realize how good he is,” Suns assistant coach Bill Cartwright said. “To me, he’s like Scottie Pippen because you don’t realize how good he is until he does something like finishes at the basket or makes a great defensive play.“

Known for his offensive prowess early in his career, Hill has reinvented himself as the team’s best defender, guarding the opposing team’s most potent scorer, whether it’s a speedy point guard or a mobile power forward.

Hill has drawn the assignment of covering the Spurs’ Tony Parker, the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and the Heat’s LeBron James. Nicknamed “Benjamin Button” by Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry’s daughter for his uncanny ability to improve as he ages, has missed only one game in the past two seasons.

Hill, who is the third-oldest player in the league behind Shaquille O’Neal and Kurt Thomas, will enter the season at 38 years old.

“He hasn’t slowed down one bit,” Gentry said. “He’s one of the best athletes on our team and one of the smartest players on our team. He’s a coach’s dream.”

During the 2008-09 season, the seven-time All-Star became the first player over 36 years old to appear in all 82 games since Cliff Robinson did so in 2003-04. The 16-year veteran also became just the 16th active player to reach 15,000 career points.

The Suns co-captain averaged 11.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 48-percent shooting from the floor in 2009-10. Hill was the team’s second-leading rebounder and recorded a career-high 44 percent shooting from behind the arc this past season.

After advancing further in the playoffs than he ever before in his career last season, there’s just one major goal that the 6-8 forward wouldn’t mind accomplishing before he retires: winning a championship. And wouldn’t you know it, who do you think was one of the first players back working towards that goal this summer?

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JOSH CHILDRESS

Fans may have forgotten about him. But NBA scouts sure haven’t.


Childress was his team's leading scorer in Greece last season.
(D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images)

When Josh Childress left the Atlanta Hawks in 2008 to play in Greece, Childress was known as one of the most explosive sixth men in the league. Now, after two years of excelling for one of the best teams in Europe, the Suns front office is extremely enthusiastic about bringing him back stateside.

“He was always very active and around the ball,” Gentry said. “He was also a great offensive rebounder and a good solid player that can play the 2, 3 and maybe even the 4. More than anything, he’ll be really active and I think fans will really like him because he’s a real hard-working guy.”

The past two seasons Childress has suited up for the Greek professional team Olympiacos, one of the premier teams in Europe. Last season, he led the Greek powerhouse to a berth in the Greek League Finals, as well as a second-place finish in the Euroleague Championship.

During the 2009-10 campaign, Childress averaged a team-leading 15.8 points and 5.4 rebounds in Greek League action and 15.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in Euroleague play. During his four seasons in the NBA, the former Second Team All-Rookie selection averaged 11.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and one steal a game.

“He’s a guy that‘s going to flourish in our offense because he’s one of those guys that’s always around the ball,” Suns assistant coach Dan Majerle said. “He’s the type of guy that gets only better when he’s surrounded by other good players.”

In the NBA, Childress is a career 52.2-percent shooter from the field, including 36 percent from three-point range. Now the 6-8, 210-pound swingman, who has averaged double-digit scoring in all four of his seasons in the NBA, should make up for the scoring punch that Leandro Barbosa took to Toronto.

Suns assistant Bill Cartwright, who used to scout specifically against the Hawks when he was Chicago’s head coach, recalls Childress being one of then-Hawks Head Coach Mike Woodson’s favorites.

“Everybody knows that he’s got that funky shot, but he’s just a really good basketball player,” Cartwright said. “He’s big, versatile, a good rebounder for his position and a smart defensive player. You look at him and say, ‘That kid can’t score,’ and then you look up and he has like 18 points.”

At 27 years old, the Suns are not only inheriting a player that is entering his prime, but a versatile one that can play a number of positions. Long and athletic, Childress can guard four positions on the floor.

With Childress and Jared Dudley anchoring the second unit’s defense, expect a bench that was already amongst the best in the league to be even better.

Related Childress:
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Video: Suns Introduce Childress

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