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NBA Power Rankings: Pacers rise, George Hill's stock soars

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George Hill's return buoyed the Pacers. Now he's driving them.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Just in case you hadn't heard or noticed, the Pacers are on the rise in the Eastern Conference due in large part to the continued emergence of (Aggressive) George Hill:

PACERS OVERALL GP MIN OFFRTG NETRTG AST RATIO EFG%
2014-15 62 2996 99.7 -0.6 16.6 47.7%
ON/OFF COURT GP MIN OFFRTG NETRTG AST RATIO EFG%
George Hill On Court 23 587 107.4 10.2 17.7 49.8%
George Hill Off Court 62 2409 97.8 -3.2 16.3 47.2%
As was earlier highlighted in this piece on 10 numbers from the Pacers' last 10 games, Hill is literally "driving" the Pacers climb up the Eastern Conference standings by refusing to be relegated to the corner.

If you filter all of the Pacers' three-man combinations since February 1, the best offensive trio over that time span, in terms of points scored per 100 possessions (minimum 200 minutes played), is David West, C.J. Miles and George Hill. The second best? Roy Hibbert, C.J. Miles and George Hill.

The best defensive trio since February 1, in terms of fewest points allowed per 100 possessions (minimum 200 minutes played)? Solomon Hill, David West and George Hill. The second best? David West, C.J. Miles and George Hill.

Notice a pattern, here?

The only name that appears in all of those combinations: George Hill.

The hometown hero's impact on the Pacers as well as the team's league-best record since the start of February are reflected in this week's NBA Power Rankings:


Though slotted at No. 12, Marc Stein has only two teams from the Eastern Conference -- the Atlanta Hawks (49-13) and Cleveland Cavaliers (40-25) -- ranked higher than the Indiana Pacers (28-34). Stein points out that "Indy is 16-7 with George Hill in uniform and ... 12-27 without him."


Matt Dollinger, also ranking the Pacers at No. 12, writes that Indiana "owes a lot of its success to George Hill." Quoting from this article from SI.com's Rob Mahoney, Dollinger writes, "Hill's impact on Indiana's offense has been 'in the ballpark of this season's top MVP candidates'."


The Pacers received their lowest marks from SB Nation's Drew Garrison, where they still find themselves in the bottom half of the league at No. 18. Nonetheless, Garrison points out that the Pacers are 11-2 since February and predicts "they will be a tough out in April."


NBA.com's John Schumann's slots Indiana at No. 11 and points out that the Pacers have been at their best during this run with lineups other than their starters (Hill, Hill, Miles, West and Hibbert). File that under things that never would have been said a year ago.


Matt Moore upgraded the Pacers from No. 20 last week all the way up to No. 11 in this week's edition of CBSSports.com's Power Rankings, but stopped short of bumping the Blue-and-Gold ahead of the Chicago Bulls (No. 10). Moore also adds this colorful side note: "People wanted to fire Frank Vogel last year. Because they're insane." A year later, Vogel has more wins than any other Pacer coach in NBA franchise history.

***
If you look at NBA.com's Power Rankings from a year ago, Indiana -- as you likely recall -- was barely holding onto the East's top seed after losing four straight games. Now, they've won five straight games and take a look at the Eastern Conference standings since February 1:

Eastern Conference W L Current Streak
Indiana Pacers 11 2 W5
Cleveland Cavaliers 11 5 W1
Atlanta Hawks 9 5 L1
Chicago Bulls 9 6 L2
Charlotte Hornets 8 6 W5
Boston Celtics 9 7 L1
Milwaukee Bucks 8 7 W1
Miami Heat 8 8 W1
Brooklyn Nets 7 8 L3
Orlando Magic 6 8 W2
Detroit Pistons 5 9 L6
Toronto Raptors 5 10 L3
Philadelphia 76ers 4 11 W1
Washington Wizards 4 11 L1
New York Knicks 3 11 L3

What a difference a year makes.