When you think of spot-up shooters, the players that usually come to mind are guys like Mike Miller, Matt Bonner, Steve Novak. We think of shooting specialists who benefit from the dribble penetration and kick outs of others but don’t have a big impact on the game elsewhere. Well, what if I told you it’s not too far-fetched to have George Hill in the same conversation as those guys?
That’s right, despite carrying a bit more of the offensive load than your typical spot up shooter (averages of 10.8 points and 3.3 assists per game) and playing stellar defense, Hill’s spot-up percentages have steadily improved from last season, per mySynergy, especially from behind the 3-point arc, as that’s where the majority of his spot-up shots come from.
Hill has always been a good three-point shooter (37.4% for his career), but his accuracy this year has been greatly enhanced by his ability to knock ‘em down in spot-up situations.
Compare his numbers on spot-up threes from last season to this season:
Let’s compare that percentage to players with reputations as elite spot-up shooters in the league – the three listed earlier (Miller, Bonner, Novak), plus Shane Battier, Danny Green, Klay Thompson and Kevin Martin.
Now because I am a basketball junkie with far too much time on my hands, I watched every one of Hill’s spot-up 3-point attempts this season, as I wanted to see if it looked like a trend that was likely to continue, or was just a result of smaller sample size. Fortunately for Indiana, it looks like the former.
As both Paul George and Roy Hibbert’s interior games have matured, they’ve both started to command more attention, and if opposing defenses don’t rotate well after these willing passers look for the more-open man, the Pacers are going to destroy them with skip passes. Hill has been the lucky recipient of this on many occasions. He’s always alert with his hands ready to catch and fire instantly.
Hill also has a very quick release, ideal for getting your shot off as a defender is closing out, and a huge part of the reason for this is “the hop.” The hop is something that both ProShotCoach and Coach Nick from BballBreakdown have been advising for a while now.
To explain, it is first helpful to look at what it is not: the common one-two step into the shot, which is shown here by Nic Batum, planting the non-preferred foot on the catch then the preferred foot.
As seen here:
Hill instead opts for the hop — which has become increasingly popular in the league recently, being used by players including Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant — catching the ball in mid-air and rising back up immediately as he hits the floor for the shot.
See how Hill does it:
So with his quick release, paired with George and Hibbert only commanding more and more attention, and Lance Stephenson taking over more of the ball-handling duties, Hill doesn’t look like his percentage will be dropping any time soon.
The ability to knock down shots off the catch is essential for spacing the floor, and will work wonders for the Pacers in opening up driving lanes for the other wings as Hill’s defender will have to twice about giving him room to bury a three.