After a few seasons of being good and predictable, the Indiana Pacers sorta bottomed out last season and sorta hit the reset button. Paul George is back, which helps a lot after missing him for most of last season. But the changes made have also allowed George Hill to step up, maybe an addition that Frank Vogel and Larry Bird didn’t expect.
Hill has always been a good, solid point guard on both ends of the floor. Never surprising thought. He averages 11.2 points and 3.2 assists per game throughout his career. OK shooting numbers from all distances, and that’s about it. Never too aggressive. Almost shy on the court. A great role player, but sometimes you need your point guard to be something more. Averaging over 15 points per game so far this season is that something more.
Hill scored 23 points in the Pacers 97-84 win over the Orlando Magic, bouncing them back to 4-4. They won four of their last five games following their 0-3 start, in which Hill averaged 18.7 points. He came back “down to earth” in the next few games, but his performance against the Magic isn’t a fluke. It’s more or less the new him, with a lot more minutes which is helping.
Hill is averaging 37.4 minutes per game, almost eight more than last season. With a pretty thin backcourt off the bench, the Pacers have to keep him on the floor for major minutes, which is probably for the best. Monta Ellis seems to be struggling in Indiana, averaging just 11.1 points while shooting 35.3% from the field, proving the Mavericks right for not trying to keep him for another season. Someone has to step into that vacuum, and Hill is doing that, even if it’s slightly reluctantly for him.
Someone who doesn’t need any encouragement to take charge is George, with 27 points in the win, so far averaging 23.5 points per game in his comeback season. He is shooting just 42% from the field as he adjusts to being a ‘4’ for most of his minutes on the floor, but it seems the extra physical demands out of him are pushing him harder and harder to leave the injury behind, and propel himself to where he was before the injury, maybe even better.