Since late February, the Spurs have played better basketball and started the month of March with a three game win streak. Things were looking good for the Spurs until Tony Parker suffered a broken bone in his right hand which will cause him to miss the rest of the regular season.
This could not have come at a worse time with the team trying to build much needed momentum and seeking to gain ground in the Western Conference playoff standings.
The team clearly needed a player who could step up and fill the void that was left by Parker.
Enter George Hill.
In just his second year in San Antonio, Hill has proved to be a reliable player for the Spurs. Soak this in! He has scored in double figures 25 times in the team's last 30 games and has averaged 12.1 points, 2.75 assist and 2.6 rebounds while making 47.7% of his shots from the field in 69 regular season games.
It gets better. In 34 starts this season, his production went up to 15.6 points, 3.5 assist and 3.1 rebounds per game and is also versatile enough to switch between point guard and shooting guard spots when he had to play alongside Tony Parker.
In nine games since Parker's injury, has has averaged 14.9 points, 4.8 assist and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 52.1% from the field and 45% from behind the arc. He also led the team in assists four times during that span.
If the stats above didn't impress you, then let's hear it from Coach Pop's own lips: "George Hill has been fantastic; He gets to the rim on offense. He runs the show. He shoots 3-pointers. He's got a great demeanor. We'd be in big trouble without him, with Tony being gone. He's done a really good job." Let's not also forget, Pop refers to Hill as his favorite player. High praise stemming from a no-nonsense coach.
Overall, Hill has looked solid running the point. Earlier this month, he had one of his best all-around performance when he scored 19 points, dished out 8 assist and grabbed 3 boards in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. He followed it up with an impressive 14 points, and a career high 11 assists without committing a single turnover in 29 minutes of action on a second night of back-to-backs against the Los Angeles Clippers.
However, for as much as Hill is looking like a seasoned NBA veteran, we are reminded he is just in his second year and there is still room for improvement.
In Wednesday's lost against the Orlando Magic, he only managed to score two points on 1-5 shooting from the field. And in the Spurs loss to the Atlanta Hawks, he had one of his worst shooting nights going 3-10 from the field and 0-4 from behind the arc.
Even his biggest fan, Coach Pop, knows one area Hill needs to improve on -- being more of a vocal leader a la Avery Johnson." I want him to take more control, I want him to be telling people where the hell to go on the court. I want him to tell me where the hell to go. I want him to start taking over. I want him to be Avery." said Popovich.
Regardless, Spurs fans should take comfort knowing a player like Hill, is wearing a Spurs jersey and filling in admirably for the injured Parker. With Parker out, Hill has assumed the role of floor general and steadied the team not only on the offensive end but on the defensive end as well. Case in point, in Sunday's loss to the Hawks, Hill was guarding the taller and bigger Joe Johnson.
He continues to shine in the team's latest victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He led the team with a career high 27 points and added five rebounds. He also shot 64% from the field and went 2-3 from behind the three-point line.
Hill has been a "diamond in the rough" for the team and has become another late-round draft day steal for the franchise.
In a draft where Spurs fans scratched their heads when his name was called and upset that the Spurs did not draft Mario Chalmers or Chris Douglas-Roberts, seems Hill is having the last laugh and proving everyone wrong.
What do you think? Are there other areas Hill needs to improve on? What do you think about his development as a second-year NBA player? Send us your thoughts.