After the San Antonio Spurs were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last season, most everyone knew a change needed to be made. The Spurs were too small.
What happened they did not expect.
The Spurs traded George Hill to Indiana for the 15th pick in the draft, the 42nd pick and the rights to Erazem Lorbek. The picks ended up being Kawhi Leonard and Davis Bertans. The trade stunned Spurs fans and saddened many, including Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford. Since then though, Spurs fans have fallen in love with Leonard since they see him as the second coming of Bruce Bowen.
So now the question is are the Spurs better or worse with Leonard instead of Hill?
The question isn't completely fair since Hill plays point and two guard and Leonard plays the two and three. Looking at the raw numbers, Leonard and Hill are having similarly effective seasons.
Hill is averaging 9.3 points, 2.6 assists and three rebounds per game with a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 15.38. Leonard is averaging 7.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game with a PER of 16.89. Leonard was in and out of the starting line up while Manu Ginobili was out with a broken finger. He then became a full time starter at small forward when the Spurs traded Richard Jefferson to Golden State for Stephen Jackson. Hill recently became Indy's starting point guard and is a key contributor to the third best team in the Eastern Conference. Both players have had positive impacts for their teams this season.
So the next question is was the Hill trade worth it?
I'll say it absolutely was. I love George Hill and wrote somewhere along the way that he made Tony Parker expendable for the last couple of seasons. It would appear that was a bit of an over statement, but Hill fit in to the Spurs' system that well. The problem for Hill was he was playing behind two All-Stars. Leonard replaced Jefferson, who I'll defend more than most but still admit he was incredibly replaceable. The Spurs' problems last spring wasn't that they were lacking in shooters and play makers. They were just small.
Too many times did we see Hill chasing around guys like Kevin Durant. Hill can do it, but he just shouldn't have to on a regular basis. Leonard is much better suited for these assignments. He also, as it turns out, isn't a bad shooter and isn't afraid to dunk on some dudes. And he's only 20.
He's only begun to scratch the surface of his ability. And if one of Europe's best big men, Erazem Lorbek is also coming to the Spurs, well then this trade could become lopsided pretty quickly.
Smart trade since Hill is in his contract year and Indy would have to pay up if they wanna keep him there. I really loved who Hill became and how hard he worked to be in the most improved player conversation but on offense I think Neal has replaced Hill's production and some and on defense we have more size and rebounding. It was a tough trade but an excellent one nonetheless.
What I like most about Leonard, is that he hussles. He doesn't give up on plays, and he brings up the morale with his immense energy. Whenever I think it's going to be a turnover, there is Leonard popping out of nowhere, oftentimes, slipping for a layup or passing the ball to an open player.
And I'm glad all you guys who were on the "trade Parker" bandwagon are finally coming back to the light =D
The problem was Hill wasn't supposed to be a bench player after 3 years. He was supposed to grow in his role and become our greatest asset off the bench (last year, Neal was our biggest player off the bench) and eventually fill that starting PG role; Hill showed that he wasn't 100% comfortable at running point. He was unsure when to penetrate and when to pass and never really played the PG exceptionally well unless he was aggressive.
I'm good with Patty Mills over Hill. They both play defense and they can both shoot. Where the differences arise is Patty Mills is a better distributor, IMO, and George Hill is the better penetrater (when he wants to be).
You didn't list steals. Kawhi is averaging 1.3 steals a game (Hill 0.8) and if there was a category for balls knocked loose he would definitely be somewhere towards the top.
And just like you touched on, I feel more confident playing KD, Kobe and LeBron knowing Kawhi is guarding them and not Hill
Both make similar contributions, and are pretty even in ability within their respective positions. Hill, however, has hit his talent ceiling, whereas the sky is the limit for Leonard, frankly. Fantastic trade for the Spurs, especially if Lorbek or Bertans ever contribute down the road.
With the Jackson/Jefferson trade, the Spurs FO has had their best year in quite some time.
I think we made out very well with the trade. George Hill was one of my favorites (and I too stupidly thought he made Parker expendable). But Leonard has played very well for being thrust in the starting lineup his rookie year without training camp, in a condensed season where practices are luxuries and hit or miss. And Kahwi has so much room to grow!
At first i didnt like getting rid of hill but now i reallly like Kawhi better than what i did with george...i really like the trade since it sent hill to indiana as well since he wanted to play there.
this trade got me thinking of another one the spurs could do this year for a really high pick to get someone like Thomas Robinson. what would everyone think about a dejuan blair danny green trade for a 2,3 or 4th pick. i didnt say james as i think nobody will give him a chance for that high a pick and spurs still have a lot of guards. i think its a bit crazy i would probably not do it but i like the idea of it and getting this robinson learning from timmy.
@scottmer.. It depends on if we're keeping Diaw. But if we are, Blair is our smallest big man and becomes a liability at times. I would almost rather include neal instead of green because Danny just seems to play with his heart and I often think he has the most hustling on the team. I'd hate to see him go & am especially glad he did not get traded to Utah.
leonard for hill is/was absolutely worth it imo.
leonard is IMO already as good or better then hill and he is in his 1st season and only 20 yrs old. the fact the spurs got a pick and a big, plus leonard it was a no brainer. as stated, hill was just not big enough to defend longer guys, and he was not fast enough to defend the best PGs in the league. also take into account that hills contract is expiring and he is going to be demanding a pretty nice paycheck, one the spurs could not afford he likely would have been gone after the season for nothing. if the spurs did put the money together then it would take more money away from an already tight cap space as it stands.
while i like hill, his game and his personality, humbleness i would make that trade every day of the week and twice on sunday. (as the saying goes) heck i would make the leonard for hill trade without the other pieces so they where just bonus.
@JohnAbney The scary part is, most believe Leonard hasn't even grown into his own as a defender. Right now he's just a raw talent defensively, whom Chip Engelland managed to miraculously turn into a 3pt shooter.
On a side note, they should make an award for assistant coach of the year because Engelland deserves it. Re-shaping Splitter's awkward FT's from 50% to 65%, and making Leonard who's main detraction was supposedly shooting into a 3pt shooter is unbelievable.