Solomon Hill / Forward / Age 23
28 GP, 8.1 MP, 1.7 PTS, .425 FG%, .304 3P%, .857 FT%, 0.3 ORB, 1.5 TRB, 0.4 AST, 0.2 STL, 0.1 BLK, 0.5 TOV
Per 36 Minutes:
28 GP, 226 MP, 7.5 PTS, 1.4 ORB, 6.5 TRB, 1.9 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.3 BLK, 2.1 TOV
2014/15 Contract Status: $1,302,840 - Fully guaranteed, second year of rookie contract.
Solomon Hill was a surprise first-round pick by the Pacers in the 2013 draft as the team felt the leadership, defensive-minded play and improvement during his time at Arizona made him a perfect fit for the culture of a contending team with a singular goal.
While that culture took on a few dents during Hill's rookie season with the blue and gold, it certainly wasn't due to anything the rook did. In fact, he was just as advertised, handling himself like a pro's pro in training despite being the youngest player on the roster.
So while we learned that Hill is a great player to have on the roster, he now begins the process of trying to prove he's a great player to have on the floor, which remains the bottom line indicator of value in the NBA, as Orlando Johnson painfully found out prior to the trade deadline last year.
How did Solomon Hill impress?
With veterans Danny Granger and Rasual Butler on the roster, Solomon Hill's rookie season figured to be filled with game observation followed by hard work on the court long after the bright lights of game time was over. But with Granger on the shelf for the first 25 games of the season, Frank Vogel offered Hill the opportunity in the playing rotation for 16 of those early games.
Hill didn't stand out with any electrifying play, but he was impressive in his ability to NOT stand out in a negative fashion either. The Pacers were 13-3 in those games with Hill playing minutes and showing he was a willing defender and not afraid to step out and shoot from behind the arc.
Hill's best game came in one of the Pacers' signature early season defensive efforts when they shut down the Washington Wizards and rolled to a 93-73 win. S.Hill logged 20 minutes, making a pair of three-pointers to finish with six points, four rebounds and a steal.
How did Solomon Hill disappoint?
Once Granger returned, Hill finished out the season playing minimal minutes, most in garbage time or with starters resting. Even after Granger was traded, Frank Vogel used Evan Turner and when that didn't work, Rasual Butler was called on as the weight of the games played through the playoffs increased.
Since Hill's early playing time was a surprise it is hard to be too disappointed with the results, but they did expose Hill as a solid-role player in training. Those types of players are quite valuable in the NBA but without a dynamic game, any hopes for a higher impact player on the roster are certainly diminished.
What's next for Solomon Hill?
Solomon Hill will take part in the Pacers' summer league games in Orlando next week to jump-start his second season with the Pacers. If Hill can work his way into the playing rotation, contributing off the bench he will be extremely valuable. The Pacers enjoyed the fruits of Paul George and Lance Stephenson performing at a high level while serving out their rooking contracts. Hill's cap hit remains minimal so getting production in the rotation for $1.3 million would make Larry Bird's job a lot easier.
Bird and Vogel both spoke highly of Hill in their post-mortem press conference. Vogel referred to Hill as an elite defender while Bird praised his work ethic and the improvement he's made behind closed doors. Adding a more consistent perimeter shot to the defensive mindset would certainly help move Hill up the playing rotation. Bird mentioned having Hill work with Hal Wissel, a coach he also referred to Lance Stephenson last summer.
How would you grade Solomon Hill's performance during the 2013-2014 season? What do you see as some of his strengths and weaknesses going forward with the Pacers?