Solomon Hill 2015-16 Season Highlights

Check out these top plays from Pacers forward Solomon Hill from the 2015-16 season.

Solomon Hill 2016 Review Playlist

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Solomon Hill 2015-16 Season Highlights

Check out these top plays from Pacers forward Solomon Hill from the 2015-16 season.
May 25, 2016  |  02:37

Solomon Hill Finishes Fast Break with Strong Slam (Game 7)

May 1, 2016 - Solomon Hill singlehandedly finishes the fast break, blowing past the Raptors' defenders to throw down the strong one-handed slam in the fourth quarter of Game 7 in Toronto.
May 1, 2016  |  00:09

Player Review 2016: Solomon Hill

by Mark Montieth Writer

Age: 25
Years pro: 3
Status: Unrestricted free agent.
Key stats: Played in 59 games, taking DNP-CDs in the other 23. Averaged 4.2 points in the regular season, but 7.7 in the playoffs and 13.2 when playing 30 minutes or more.

Outsiders might have seen Solomon Hill as the victim of poor judgment last season. Insiders had a different vantage point.

Hill had one of the more unusual seasons in franchise history. An unusual two seasons, actually. He was the only Pacers player to see minutes in all 82 games of the team's injury-splintered 2014-15 season, and started 78 of them. He then volunteered to play in Summer League games, an unusual gesture for a two-year veteran who had played so much the previous season. But he played poorly in three games, hitting just 4-of-22 shots and missing all five 3-pointers, before heading home.

He was lost in the shuffle when last season opened, as newcomers Chase Budinger and Glenn Robinson III surpassed him on the depth chart for wings, based on their performance in the team's intrasquad scrimmages in September and training camp in October. Hill didn't play in 20 of the first 39 games, and scored in double figures just once in that stretch.
At that point, it seemed perfectly reasonable the Pacers had not picked up the option on his rookie contract to keep him secured for next season.

GALLERY: Solomon Hill's Season in Photos »

Gradually, though, Hill worked his way into the rotation. Robinson and Budinger didn't take advantage of their opportunities, while Hill remained quietly dedicated. He was usually one of the last players off the court after practice, and declined opportunities to complain about his (lack of) playing time to the media. Finally, in what seemed an example of justice being served, he wound up playing a vital role the second half of the season – which had fans wondering why the front office had not picked up his extension.

Check out the erratic nature of Hill's season:

He averaged 4.2 points over the regular season, hitting 45 percent of his field goals, including 32 percent of his 3-pointers.

He averaged 7.7 points in the playoff series with Toronto, hitting 11-of-19 3-pointers (58 percent) and 15-of-16 foul shots (94 percent).

He averaged 13.2 points in the six games in which he played 30 minutes or more, shooting 57 percent from the field and 54 percent from the 3-point line. (He hit just 11-of-50 3-pointers in the games in which he played 29 minutes or less.)

PLAYER REVIEWS: Read More Season Recaps »

He averaged 13.7 points in the three regular season games he started, shooting 56 percent from the field and 60 percent from the 3-point line. In the last of those starts, the season finale at Milwaukee, he hit 7-of-11 3-pointers and scored 25 points.

Keep in mind, his best asset was defense. In fact, he surpassed Paul George as the best defender of wing scoring threats. His offense was somewhat of a bonus, and a major one at times. He was the Pacers' best free throw shooter (86 percent) in the regular season and it's best 3-point shooter (58 percent) in the playoffs. Had his potentially game-tying three-pointer in Game 5 of the playoff series with Toronto been literally a tenth of a second earlier at the end of regulation, the Pacers might have won the series.

He also was a mature and intelligent voice on the court and in the locker room, usually coming across more like a 40-year-old assistant coach than a third-year NBA player.

"He's one of those glue guys who's good for our culture," coach Frank Vogel said during the season.

The turning point for Hill's season didn't come in any particular game, or when playing time opened up after Budinger was released or Robinson faltered. It came early in the season when team president Larry Bird sent general manager Kevin Pritchard to talk with him about his attitude early.

"Like I told Solomon, the best thing that ever happened to him was us putting a boot in his butt and getting him going, because he wasn't getting the job done and I think he'll be the first one to tell you," Bird said after the season. "He was laid-back. He was disappointed we didn't pick (his player option) up, but coming off of Summer League he wasn't there, he wasn't playing well at all, he didn't even look like an NBA player. He was out of shape, he didn't play well and I told him, 'We might not pick up your option,' so he was upset about it, and pouting around a little bit, but finally I had Kevin Pritchard go down and talk to him a little bit – 'tell him next year I'll see him in the D-League' – and Kevin went and talked to him and it fired him up."

Hill acknowledged that early in the season, when he was out of the rotation and working to get back with a renewed work ethic and attitude.

"I had a talk with Kevin, and I could easily find myself out of the league if I let this all come down on me," he said then. "But there's a way I can turn this into a positive and continue my NBA career."

DRAFT CENTRAL: The Latest Pacers News On The 2016 Draft »

He did just that. He's likely to get significant offers in free agency this summer, given his postseason performance, and the Pacers could be priced out of the market. They can only offer the amount he would have received if his contract had been extended in October.

If the Pacers can't re-sign him, at least Bird and Pritchard can take pride in helping revive his career.

"I'm happy for the kid, because the one thing Solomon's got that you can't take away from him: he plays hard," Bird said. "That's a talent. For a guy to come out there every day in practice and in the games and play hard … once he got it, he started getting some minutes, and I was happy for him because I think he realized who he was as a basketball player.

"He's probably not going to be a 35-40 minute guy, but he has an opportunity to get with somebody and be on a team now. He played well for us down the stretch and like I told him in the exit interview, you never know in this league what might happen. We might bring him back. It might cost us a little bit more money but now he knows who he is as a player."

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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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