A few weeks before the playoffs Geroge Hill got the chance to start at point guard due to an injury to Darren Collison. George Hill played well enough that Frank Vogel declared him starter the rest of the way. A few were questioning the decision to tamper with the lineup right before the playoffs but the decision has proven to be worthy and is a good fit for both players.
Collison and Hill are both point guards but they are very different players. Collison is more of a pure point guard (he was on the same team as Chris Paul, remember, coincidence? I think not), Hill is a score-first point guard; Collison is great defensively, Hill struggles on the pick and roll (Hill isn’t horrible defensively but he’s nowhere near the level of DC); Collison scores more by driving to the basket, Hill scores more by spotting up.
George Hill has taken full advantage of getting the nod as the starting point guard. During the regular season he averaged 8.7 points per game when coming off the bench. In the playoffs so far he has bounced that up to 14.5 per game. That’s almost 4 points more than Darren Collison was giving you as a starter (10.8 per game).
But Darren Collison hasn’t just given up while coming off the bench, he’s been even better as a bench player than Hill was. In fact, Collison has been much better coming off the bench than he was as a starter. In the playoffs he’s nearly equaled his points per game as a starter (10.8 as a starter, 8.4 off the bench). Also in the playoffs he’s made a major leap in points per 48 minutes; 16.2 as a starter during the regular season and a crazy jump to 21.9 in the playoffs.
As George Hill has been the better scorer during the playoffs, Darren Collison has been the better field general (like I mentioned earlier, he’s a better pure point guard). George Hill is only supplying 2.8 assists per game while Collison has 3.6 despite averaging more than 10 minutes less than Hill. Collison is also 6th in the playoffs (minimum of 15 minutes per game) in assists per 48 minutes with 9.5.
While I’ve just thrown a bunch of stats at you the main difference is something that can’t be measured by statistics. Darren Collison brings a boat load of energy off the bench, something that George Hill didn’t supply as much. Sure George Hill was a good bench scorer and is an even better scorer as a starter but one of the main things teams look for in bench players is energy, which Darren Collison is great at. The second he enters the game the defense intensifies and he plays lock down D on the other team’s ball handler. This energy is infectious (one of the reasons bench energy is so important) and inspires his other teammates to put in the extra effort. (Also, on a totally unrelated topic about Lance Stephenson’s choke gesture Vogel said “ But I fully support the energy he brings from the bench. That’s what I want from my bench, bringing enthusiasm.”)
So there may still be people who question Vogel’s decision but, hey, it’s worked out great in more ways than one. As Vogel said when he made the decision, they’re both top ten point guards (arguable) which is a good problem to have.