George Hill took to the podium on Pacers media day in a jovial mood. He joked with the room that they looked pretty and he commented that he had been working on his '62 Impala over the summer. Once he got serious he sounded hungry for the season to begin. The 2013-2014 campaign was a tumultuous one for the team as well as Hill. His play was inconsistent which led to frustration from both fans and Hill himself. He noted that he had a "bitter taste" in his mouth after losing to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Much has been made about his only taking one day off this offseason. Hill said he was in the gym every day working on getting stronger, working on his shot, and also watching film. That was before he knew his role on the team would change drastically.
With the injury to Paul George and the departure of Lance Stephenson Hill will be asked to play a larger role in the offense this year. Rather than primarily spotting up for three pointers he will have to be a scorer, and a playmaker but not more of a "true point guard" according to Hill. He clearly views himself as a scorer saying "I'm not a true point guard. I'm not gonna sit up here and act like I am."
Frank Vogel agrees that Hill will have a larger role. In his press conference Vogel commented on Hill being more aggressive. "I think George Hill is going to be more assertive, but I'm also going to put him in position to be more assertive...We're going to see a different George Hill. A better George Hill".
Hill agreed with his head coach. Saying that Lance and Paul leaving will "enhance" his role with the team. He also mentioned that it gives the rest of the roster a chance to "step up". Hill says he will lead by example by holding others accountable making sure they do not lose sight of their goals.
Hill was impressed by the work ethic of his teammates in the offseason, notably Chris Copeland. Though he claimed that he thought this was a "special" team when asked for overall season expectations he offered nothing. "I think it's better that we don't make expectations, because then you guys judge us on that."
The theme of the day throughout all press conferences was that everyone was going to have to step up their game to replace the contributions of Paul and Lance. His overall tone seemed defiant and maybe even a little bit angry. That feels like a good thing. The emergence of Hill as a scorer, and a leader will be huge if the Pacers are going to defy expectations and make a playoff run. Most pundits have this team bound for the lottery, time will tell if that is the case.