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Utah’s George Hill Flourishing In Contract Year

George Hill discusses his hot start in Utah and his upcoming free agency with Michael Scotto.

Michael Scotto

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George Hill is making history with the Utah Jazz.

Hill became the first Jazz player to win Western Conference Player of the Week since Al Jefferson on April 1, 2013. Hill led Utah to a 3-1 record from October 31 through November 6 while averaging 20.8 points on 59 percent shooting, 5.8 assists and 3.3 rebounds.

Among NBA point guards, Hill ranks first in field goal percentage (.541), second in effective field goal percentage (.622) and offensive rating (132.5), third in true shooting percentage (.659) and win shares (1.2), fifth in total shooting percentage (184.8) and assist-to-turnover ratio (4.4) and sixth in PER (26.4).

“I’m given a great opportunity,” Hill told Basketball Insiders. “I feel like here, other than Indiana, I got the ball in my hands a lot more. I have the coach’s green light to be aggressive and take shots. Not saying I didn’t have the green light in Indy, so no disrespect to the coach there, but it’s a little different. When I have the ball in my hands a lot more, I’m not in the corner a lot, just taking advantage of the opportunity that’s given to me. I think that’s what you do, you try to take advantage of the opportunities.”

Will those opportunities remain abundant? Gordon Hayward made his season debut against the New York Knicks on November 6 and will return to his role as the focal point of the offense.

“I feel like (Hayward’s return) just makes us a lot better as a team where you have another guy that you can count on, on the offensive end and the defensive end,” Hill said. “We take a little pressure off each other so it doesn’t affect anybody. We’re going to continue to move the ball and share it, and play with the same intensity that we’ve been playing with.”

georgehillinside1Utah will need Hill to remain aggressive despite Hayward’s return to the lineup. Utah is 4-0 when Hill scores 20 or more points in a game. Hill is shooting a career-best 54 percent from the field, 43 percent from beyond the arc and 88 percent at the foul line.

Utah appears primed for a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2012 with Hill playing the best basketball of his career, Hayward returning from a broken left finger and Derrick Favors rounding into form after returning from a knee injury.

It begs the question, what’s Utah’s ceiling?

“Only focus we have is the playoffs, anything less is a bad season for us,” Hill replied. “That’s our goal, to bring playoff basketball back to Utah, the city of Salt Lake, and have our fans there every night for them. Playoff games, just like [the fans] deserve.”

While Utah’s immediate goal is to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012, this offseason will determine if Utah remains a playoff contender for the foreseeable future.

Hayward is expected to opt out of his $16.7 million player option and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Hill is in the final year of his contract worth $8 million and will also become an unrestricted free agent. While Utah has a well-regarded young nucleus that should only get better – especially after locking up Rudy Gobert to a long-term extension – Hill isn’t looking toward his future yet.

“I don’t know,” Hill said. “I’m really not here to answer [questions about] extension or contract situations and things like that. I’m going to let Dennis Lindsey and the front office handle that and my agents. My focus is just to play basketball and try to get us to the playoffs.”

Hill has come a long way after spending his first four seasons primarily coming off the bench for the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers. No one recognizes that more than Quin Snyder, his current head coach in Utah. Snyder and Hill were both part of San Antonio from 2008-10.

“I think he’s evolved as a player,” Snyder said. “He’s going to play a little differently with us than he did in Indiana. There was a question before about how he’s going to play with Gordon on the court versus off the court, how he’s going to play game to game. I think he’s got the ability to find a balance as far as what a team needs. That to me, that’s leadership. He’s going to provide what he can provide. We knew we were getting that, but you never know to the extent until someone is there day-to-day. That’s one of the things that I’ve seen. He can lead in a lot of contexts. The card game is better with him, the end of the game is better with him and your defense is better with him. At least I think the card game, it’s better when he’s winning I guess.”

Hill holds the cards in his hand when it comes to his future. If Hill and Hayward re-sign, Utah is primed to be a playoff contender for the foreseeable future thanks to its young nucleus. If Hill leaves in free agency, Utah will have to reshuffle the point guard deck.

Michael Scotto is a Senior NBA Writer for Basketball Insiders in his sixth season covering the league. He also works for The Associated Press focusing on Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks game coverage.

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Legacy

Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

Basketball Insiders

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From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

We are considering adding new voices for the 2020-21 NBA Season, and what we are looking for is very specific.

Here are the criteria:
– A body of professional work that reflects an understanding of the NBA and basketball.
– Must live within 30 minutes of an NBA team.
– Must be willing to write two to three times per week on various topics as assigned.
– Must write in AP style and meet assigned deadlines.
– Be willing to appear in Podcasts and Video projects as needed and scheduled.
– Have a strong understanding of social media and its role in audience development.
– Be willing to work in a demanding virtual team environment.

Some things to know and consider:
– We are not hiring full-time people. If you are seeking a full-time gig, this is not that.
– This will be a low or non-compensation role initially. We need to understand your value and fit.
– We have a long track record of creating opportunities for those that excel in our program.
– This will be a lengthy interview and evaluation process. We take this very seriously, so should you.
– If you are not committed to being great, this is not the right situation for you.

If you are interested, please follow these specific instructions, Drop us an e-mail with:

Your Name:

The NBA Market You Live Near:

And Why We Should Consider You:

We do not need your resume, but a few links to work you have done under the above information would be helpful.

Please send all of this to: openings2021@basketballinsiders.com

 

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#17 – Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

David Yapkowitz

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With the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Aleksej Pokusevski from Serbia. The Thunder completed a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire the pick.

Pokusevski is a long term project, but one that has has an intriguing skillset. A 7-footer with good speed and quickness, Pokusevski plays like a wing and can pass like a guard. But, to truly thrive at the next level, Pokusevski will need to put on some serious weight.

Again, he’s a project. But Pokusevski’s ceiling is sky-high. And, with a rebuild ahead of them, the Thunder have more than enough time to work with him and ensure he reaches it.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler

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What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:

 

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