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Solomon Hill Looks to Find Niche in Uncertain Season

Where we discuss Solomon Hill's surprisingly broad approach to his offseason development and his expected (or unexpected) role for the new season.

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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

It was perhaps the most brow-raising quote you never bothered listening to on Media DayWhen asked by Pat Boylan if he'd targeted a specific goal during his offseason workouts, Solomon Hill surprised with his nonchalance.

"No, not really," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "I think it's kind of hard to really set out and accomplish one thing, especially with our situation at hand."

Say what? 'Not really?'

This is Solomon Hill we're talking about, right? A borderline rotation player in 2015-2016; a sketchy three-point shooter (33%) in his first two seasons; and a player whose NBA career may very well hinge on his ability to make a significant 3-and-D leap.

Surely under the direction of the coaching staff and his own common sense, Solo was in a gym everyday of the summer, hoisting threes until his hands went numb, right?

How about ... kind of.

"Just working on everything," Solo continued. "You definitely always wanna work on shooting to be able to knock down a higher-percentage three, but yeah, just working on my full game, you know. There's not one thing I can say I really wanted to work on."

Closer, but still not an overly satisfying response for Solo backers and scoffers alike.      

At first glance, it seems a curious move to brush aside a glaring weakness in favor of something as generic as 'my full game,' but Solo had his reasons. Reasons rooted in positional uncertainty.

"We really don't know what position some guys are going to play," he later explained. "Who knows? I might be taking the ball out and running some four." 

Sure enough, thanks to Paul George's wishy-washy commitment to PF, uncertainty has been the running theme in training camp and pre-season ball. Often lost in all of the George hysteria; however, is the fact that he isn't the only one being asked to restructure his game.

Take George Hill, for example. Fresh off a career season as an attacking lead guard, he'll now be tasked with playing off the ball more to accommodate Monta Ellis. Oh, and he'll have a tougher defensive assignment each night, too, because of Ellis', um, lukewarm commitment to defense. 

There's also Chase Budinger, a career 3/2, who's expected to slide over to the 4 in doses. C.J. Miles, Rodney Stuckey, Lavoy Allen, Myles Turner, Joe Young; every single one of'em will swing between this position and that as part of the franchise's crash-course introduction to the 21st Century NBA: Where versatility, speed, and space happen.

Put it that way and Solo's decision to target a variety of skills instead of just one or two makes a little more sense. And so far the non-specific approach is off to an efficient start as he's averaged 8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 55% from the field in two pre-season games. 

Most importantly, he's splitting minutes between the 3 and 4, in hopes of allowing George more reps on the perimeter defensively. And his efforts didn't go unnoticed against the Pistons on Tuesday night (via Nate Taylor, Indystar):

"I knew what the struggle was going to be," George said of his new defensive responsibilities as a power forward. "It's an adjustment. We did some things that we changed up. We had Solomon (Hill) on the fours and C.J. (Miles) on the fours and I was able to play my natural position defensively."  

If, however, swiss-army-knife Solo doesn't pan out over the course of the season, maybe he can fill in elsewhere. Like the currently vacant role of liaison between upper management and Paul George The Reluctant. After all, nobody's spouted the company line better than Solo heading into the season.

"You're a basketball player. I think people get too caught up in positions, and the NBA's a trend. We just started shooting threes not too long ago at a certain number. Now teams are going smaller, and it's being effective for some teams. You have to look at yourself as being a basketball player." 

I'm sure Larry and Frank wouldn't mind the help.