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The Many Makes Of George Hill
One reason that even the best teams drop random games is because every so often you run into a team that is just making everything. Back in late November in Cleveland, the Cavaliers were that team.
The Bucks took a double-digit lead into halftime that night, but the Cavaliers entered the third quarter like they were Klay Thompson against the Thunder in Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals. The Cavaliers ended up making 10–15 (.667) threes in that third quarter and scored 42 points against the Bucks. (Thompson’s line was 11–18 (.611) on threes and 41 points back on that fateful night in 2016.)
Any team can get hot for a while and steal a game.
That night, George Hill quelled a torrential run late in the third quarter by hitting consecutive three-pointers in the midst of seven straight long-range hits by the Cavaliers, first with a corner no-hesitation triple.
And then knocking in a step-back number.
Without those threes, and the 4–6 that Hill hit overall that night, the Bucks may very well have not had enough to get past the red-hot Cavaliers. It is little moments like that why the Bucks are 23–0 against teams with losing records this season.
Sure, he has not made quite as many threes this season as his three-point specialist teammate, Giannis, but Hill comfortably leads the NBA in three-point accuracy this season anyway.
Three-Point Percentage — 2019–20
1. George Hill — .509
2. Marcus Morris Sr. — .469
3. JJ Redick — .461
4. Doug McDermott — .455
5. Meyers Leonard — .450
And he is still knocking on the door of the all-time leaders in accuracy, the only guy from this three-point boom era who cracks this list.
Three-Point Percentage — Single Season — NBA History
1. Kyle Korver (2009–10)— .536
2. Steve Kerr (2004–05) — .523
3. Tim Legler (1995–96) — .522
4. Jon Sundvold (1988–89) — .521
5. Steve Kerr (1995–96) — .514
6. Jason Kapono (2006–07) — .514
7. Detlef Schrempf (1994–95) — .513
8. George Hill (2019–20) — .509
Hill picks his spots. The moment called for those back-to-back triples against the Cavaliers. That is not his usual game. In fact, the most accurate three-point shooter in the league has yet to attempt more than seven threes in a single game this season (the two times he attempted seven, he made 6–7 and 4–7 respectively).
Opening night in Houston foreshadowed a discerning, deadly vibe from beyond the perimeter (2–4 on threes), but Hill, perhaps more crucially, also demonstrated that night his calming, bright presence, with seven assists (including four in the final eight minutes of the game), zero turnovers, and two steals.
Last year in the playoffs, Hill was one of the best players on the team, after Giannis. Now 33 years old, he has run it back, looking all the part of the ideal backup point guard and then some. Talk about Hill for Sixth Man of the Year if you want, but measure him against starting point guards, and you might not be able to find more than dozen who have been better than him this season. It is not an overstatement to call him a perfect fit on the second line, but don’t sell him short. Like last year, he has the look of someone who will be critical, and on the court, late in games in a potential run to the Finals.
Hill is making every type of three-point this season.
He has made 50.0% when closely guarded. He has made 56.3% when dribbling 7+ times before launching. He has made 68.4% very late in the shot clock. It gets more and more ridiculous.
His season should not be defined though merely by a historic three-point run. He ranks among the league leaders in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.39), and not because he is a low-risk passer, but because he is a smart passer. Have you, even once this season, been worried when the second unit comes into a game?
The offense hums when he is on the court. If it doesn’t, for even a second, he puts things back in order. Against the Spurs, in what had been a slow-starting first quarter, Hill saw the offense stall for a moment, and like the suavest crossing guard in history, directed his teammates with a shake of the fist that contained not too much and not too little authoritativeness, got the ball, swung it, and a moment later Robin Lopez was putting in a hook shot.
Speaking of that Spurs game, Hill shot 1–5 from the field. When writers write about someone, they usually hate when something like that happens. On the contrary, it makes for a nice time to say: As historically well as Hill has shot this season, his shooting is only a part of the bigger picture that he affects.
His threes deserve attention. But he is making plays and shots all over the place. Luka Doncic is the only guard in the league who is converting on twos more accurately than Hill this season.
Two-Point Percentage — Guards — 2019/20
1. Luka Doncic — .598
2. George Hill — .585
3. Ben Simmons — .567
4. James Harden — .558
5. Devin Booker — .557
The Bucks are playing at a historically fast pace this season. Hill plays quickly, but as the smoothest 33 year-old vets do, he plays at a pace all his own, too.
When he made those back-to-back threes against the Cavaliers late in the third quarter in late November, the Cavaliers matched him with a three each time. On the next offensive possession, Hill gathered the ball at the top of the perimeter, got a screen on either side, surveyed, and went to the hoop, as his pace, for a pretty finger-roll off the glass.
It was the middle of an 18-game winning streak.