The Indiana Pacers are looking for someone to step up and take control of the starting small forward job now that Paul George is out for the season due to a broken leg. Solomon Hill has been the name that most analysts expect to see start the season in that role, and he showed some flashes in very limited minutes last season. There are plenty of question marks surrounding his game, especially on the offensive end of the court.
What improvements must Hill make in order to step in and fill the starting small forward role for the Pacers?
Quite simply, nearly everything about his offensive game needs a lot of improvement from last season. His three-point shot was shaky to say the least, his ball-handling ability didn’t allow him to get to the rim, his hesitancy was a turnover threat each time he touched the ball, and his mid-range game was inconsistent as well. All of those areas are major concerns for the Pacers, and Hill will have to improve in a big way in all of those aspects.
There is no question that his issues can be improved with hard work and good coaching, and the Pacers have spent a lot of time talking about his potential this offseason. Both Larry Bird and Frank Vogel view Hill as a potential starter, and they believe he has the defensive ability to be an above average defender at the small forward position. Hill isn’t the most athletic player, nor is he the quickest player, but he does seem to have a good head on his shoulders and the knowledge of how to play the game the right way.
Hill ended up playing in just 28 regular season games last season with the Pacers, averaging just 8.1 minutes per game. He averaged 1.7 points and 1.5 rebounds per game, which shows just how little experience he has received. It’s going to be extremely difficult for him to go from being a little used deep bench player to a starter or even a primary backup.
All of that being said, there are just too many areas that Hill struggled in last season to expect him to improve them all. While most Pacers fans seem to be excited about giving him a chance to develop, throwing him out on the court right now is likely going to ruin his confidence and end badly unless he’s improved more than expected. Either way, it’s going to be a very rough season for the Pacers, and having to play a young player that isn’t ready is just going to add to those issues.
It’s possible that simply playing extended minutes against NBA level competition will help him improve throughout the course of the year, but even if that does end up being the case it won’t help them this year. Hill does have the potential to become a solid bench piece in the future, but this season is not the year for him to be forced into action. Hopefully he is able to prove his critics wrong, but at this point in time it doesn’t look like a great situation.