George Hill 2016 Season Review

Pacers point guard George Hill reflects on Indiana's 2015-16 campaign, looks ahead to next season, and shares his plans for the offseason.

George Hill 2015-16 Review

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George Hill 2016 Season Review

Pacers point guard George Hill reflects on Indiana's 2015-16 campaign, looks ahead to next season, and shares his plans for the offseason.
May 9, 2016  |  02:31

George Hill 2015-16 Season Highlights

Check out these top plays by Pacers point guard George Hill from the 2015-16 season.
May 9, 2016  |  02:43

Player Review 2016: George Hill

by Mark Montieth Writer

Age: 30
Years pro: 8
Status: Has one year remaining on his contract
Key stats: Averaged 12.1 points, 4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 turnovers and 1.1 steals during the regular season. Shot team-high and career-best 41 percent from the 3-point line and improved that to 48 percent in the playoffs.

For such a quiet guy who accepts whatever role he's given and never gets in trouble off the court, George Hill certainly is controversial.

What position should he play? Should he be more aggressive? Should he start or come off the bench? Five seasons into his career with the Pacers, eight years into his NBA career, the questions still follow him.

Let's start with this: Hill is a good defender, well above average, perhaps even toeing the line of the "great" zone. Kyle Lowry, who struggled mightily against Hill's defense in the first-round playoff series with Toronto, paid tribute to him after the Pacers' Game 6 victory, explaining his woeful shooting to that point of the series by saying simply, "George Hill is playing great defense right now."

As for position, Hill is the classic combo guard, and that's a large reason for the uncertainty about him. He was the point guard of the teams that reached the conference finals in 2013 and '14, but wasn't really allowed to play like one. As Paul George and Lance Stephenson emerged as the focal points of the offense, with Roy Hibbert and David West also deserving significant scoring opportunities, Hill became a facilitator and virtual afterthought. His typical role in the halfcourt offense was to pass to one of the wings and go stand in the corner for a possible kick-out pass. For that, he was criticized for not being more assertive.

GALLERY: Hill's Season in Photos »

Then in 2014-15, with Stephenson gone and George and West injured, Hill had to take on a more vital role. He averaged 16.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists – all career highs – and just 1.6 turnovers. The complaints died down.

This season, with Monta Ellis entering the mix and George back in the lineup, Hill returned to a hybrid role and the complaints grew. He shared point guard duties with Ellis and played point guard with the reserves early in the season, then became a more exclusive shooting guard at the end. That often meant a trip back to the corner, waiting for a pass. It made sense, because Ellis was more effective with the ball in his hands and Hill was the team's best 3-point shooter, especially the shorter corner three. He responded with the best 3-point percentage of his career – 41 percent in the regular season and 48 percent in the playoffs – and averaged 12.1 points.

He improved in the playoffs, averaging 13.6 points on 56 percent shooting while stifling the All-Star Lowry, who averaged 13.9 points on 32 percent shooting, more then seven points below his regular season average.

What we have here is a good player. Not an All-Star, but certainly a better-than-solid player whose versatility and willingness to conform seems to give some people the impression he doesn't try hard enough. Isn't that how it goes in every workplace? You go about your work quietly, fill a variety of roles, don't complain, and don't get enough credit.

Hill's laid-back demeanor exaggerates the notion that he's passive, but there's no question he occasionally could be more assertive. He's admitted this in the past, and Larry Bird has admitted it for him. For evidence, you can go back to Game 2 of the series with Toronto when he scored four points, failed to get to the foul line and had just one rebound and one assist in 31 ½ minutes. Then again, maybe nobody was looking for him over there in the corner. Quality players who are willing to defer but are able to step up when needed have value. So do players who defend well and have sparkling assist-to-turnover ratios.

Hill probably pays a price for being the guy acquired for the 2011 draft pick that San Antonio used to acquire Kawhi Leonard, who has blossomed into superstardom. That's not Hill's fault, and it's even a stretch to blame Larry Bird for not taking another wing player when he already had a healthy and productive Danny Granger and a promising rookie in George at the time.

Hill's role next season is anybody's guess. Adjustments will be made to the roster over the summer, a new coach will set up a new system and Hill will find a role. Chances are, he'll do it well.

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Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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