The Indiana Pacers were arguably the best team in the NBA at the beginning of last season, but they crumbled in a major way down the stretch of the season. One of the main issues for Indiana was the lack of point guard play, and George Hill is a major question mark heading into this season as well. Larry Bird has made it clear that he is always looking for a better point guard, but he also said that he was happy with what the Pacers already had in George Hill.
Can George Hill be the answer at point guard for the Pacers this coming season?
That is perhaps the most important question for the Pacers after losing up-and-coming star Lance Stephenson. Hill is going to be asked to be much more effective with his ball-handling and he’ll have to make plays and set up the offense as a true point guard. He hasn’t been a consistent point guard since joining the Pacers, and unfortunately he hasn’t been able to score at a consistent rate either.
Last season with the Pacers, Hill played in and started 76 regular season games. He ended the season averaging 10.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game, and was a very solid defensive presence on the perimeter as well. There are quite a few positives to Hill’s game that are going to help the team out this season, especially his three-point shooting and defensive ability.
All of that being said, the Pacers are desperate for Hill to figure out how to be an aggressive point guard. There is no denying his ability to score the basketball when he is determined to, but he never seems to have that attitude. Hill has even said publicly that he isn’t a point guard, but he’ll have to work hard this offseason to figure out how to run an offense and improve his playmaking ability for his teammates.
There is some hope that Hill could figure things out with Stephenson now out of town. Both players wanted to run the offense, and most of the team tended to give the ball to Stephenson and allow him to make plays. Hill hasn’t had the freedom to run the offense the way that he wants to, and have the entire team allow him to do his job. It is still possible that he is unable to improve his game, but it also could be a prime example of addition by subtraction as far as Hill is concerned.
His scoring ability is something that the Pacers will need him to use much more this season than he has in years past. He has a great perimeter shot, and he is also able to get to the rim and finish at a high level. The Pacers aren’t going to have the type of ability that Stephenson had to create his own shot, and that will likely give Hill the opportunity to take more looks and feel the ability to be more aggressive.
As far as his playmaking ability is concerned, there are a couple of quick fixes that would help him immediately. One of the biggest issues with his passing is that he jumps too often when he drives into the lane and looks to kick out. The Miami Heat were able to steal a lot of Indiana’s passes because they were lazy passes that were telegraphed because of jumping before making a decision. Another one of Hill’s biggest issues is that he doesn’t look to pass until the last second, and even when he does look to pass it is only because his shot was impeded by the defense.
Overall, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about Hill this coming season, but there are also the usual reasons to be upset that Indiana didn’t make any upgrades to the position. The Pacers are going to need their point guards to come through in a big way to help out head coach Frank Vogel’s poor offensive schemes, and Hill could be the X-Factor when it comes to the Pacers’ playoff chances. There is no doubt that Indiana has the type of talent needed to surprise some people, but the Eastern Conference is much tougher than it was last season and the Pacers lost their second best player.
Evan Massey is a Staff Writer for HoopsHabit.com.