Despite ranking 11th in pace this season as they tried to go with a more uptempo style of play, they were pretty middle-of-the-road in potential assists and just 25th overall on offense. George Hill is a good shooter and a solid scorer in the pick-and-roll, but he’s not a guy that breaks down the defense and finds teammates for good looks. Jeff Teague has definitely become that guy since Mike Budenholzer took over in Atlanta.
He averaged over four more potential assists than Hill did last season, and has been over 34 percent in assist rate the last four seasons. Hill has cracked 30 percent in assist rate once in his career (31.4) and was over 20 percent just one other time. The Pacers lose something in 3-point shooting with Teague often being a league average shooter and Hill being a career 37.5 percent shooter from deep.
However, Teague did hit 40 percent of his 3-pointers last season and was an All-Star point guard just a year ago. Fitting Teague with Ellis in the backcourt can be problematic for two guys who like to have the ball in their hands, and defensively that could be tricky. Teague took a big step back on defense last season but also revealed after the Hawks were eliminated that he had a knee injury.
The Pacers are acquiring a point guard that helps them play more of the style Larry Bird envisioned a year ago. And Paul George’s shot-making when he doesn’t have to create so much of the offense for himself and others can finally grow as the season progresses instead of fall.
Utah Jazz receive George Hill:
The Utah Jazz were trying to find a point guard at the trade deadline before acquiring Shelvin Mack for a playoff push that never quite came together. They kicked around the idea of Ty Lawson and Jeff Teague. George Hill was rumored to be a target of theirs as well before they settled on Mack. In an ideal world, Dante Exum is their point guard of the present and future, but as he comes off that ACL tear from last summer, you can’t just heap a lot of minutes and expectations on a guy trying to remember how to absorb contact while soaking in the intricacies of the NBA point guard position. They needed some insurance and the acquisition of Hill is exactly that.
For the Jazz and Quin Snyder’s system, they don’t exactly need a point guard who creates. They want a guy with good size (Hill is 6-foot-3), 3-point shooting, and makes smart basketball decisions. So much of their motion offense runs through the wings with Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood handling the ball off of hand-offs from bigs like Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors. They were desperate for size and shooting at the position last season, which is something Raul Neto and Trey Burke couldn’t consistently provide.
Hill gives them perfect insurance for Exum. Exum can come off the bench, split time with the starters in a staggered rotation, and bring his offensive abilities and understand up to speed with his defensive impact. He was an incredible part of their defensive dominance at the end of his rookie season, and they never asked him to do much with the ball. With Hill in the starting lineup, he won’t have that same pressure.
The Jazz worked out an obscene amount of players, struggled to get guys who realistically should be considered for the 12th pick, and traded out of a lottery they weren’t in love with. The odds of them drafting a player as good as Hill were low for a team that would like to make the playoffs next season. They get a year of Hill at $8 million, which they absorb easily into their immense cap space, and have depth at the PG position for the first time in a while.
When Hill is a free agent in 2017, they’ll have a better handle on just how ready Exum is to take over. Until then, Exum can learn from Hill and the development staff while also getting plenty of reps alongside Hill as the off-guard.
Atlanta Hawks receive No. 12 pick:
This part of the deal is a little trickier to figure out because it’s not quite obvious whether the Hawks are prepared for a team makeover or if they’re just that impressed with Dennis Schroder. Or maybe it’s both? The Hawks now possess the 12th, 21st, 44th and 54th picks. The second-round picks are likely stash options and the Hawks are left with two picks in the top 21 when they traditionally haven’t valued the draft too much under Budenholzer.
They picked Adreian Payne two years ago and then moved him to Minnesota for a future pick in the middle of his rookie year. They moved their pick to Washington last year in exchange for the chance to develop Tim Hardaway Jr. Now they’re valuing a draft that isn’t deep in star power but could net them a couple of solid role players.
Is this all in preparation of the possibility of losing Al Horford in free agency? Or does this just strengthen the depth of the team as they try to convince him he should stay in Atlanta? Horford may be the most valuable free agent acquisition on the market once Kevin Durant decides where to be next season.