NBA Saturday: Hill No Point Guard, But So What?
George Hill Proves That “Point Guard” Ain’t Nothin’ But A Label
When Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel talks about George Hill, he refers to him as “point guard George Hill,” obviously to curtail any media challenges that Hill might not be the guy to lead the team at that position going forward.
Of course, Hill himself is the first to admit that he is not, in fact, a true point guard.
“I’m not; I’m a combo guard,” he said. “I think nowadays you don’t list people as point guards. You list them as just a guard. I think that’s why they took out the center position (from the All-Star ballot), because it’s just a forward. I’m going to continue to do me because people who say ‘He’s not true point guard’ probably never played basketball in their life. So I can care less about what they say about me. I know who I am. I know what I can bring.”
So far what he’s brought has been career-high numbers in every major statistical category. He’s averaging over 30 minutes a night for the first time in his career, and has nearly doubled his previous career-high for assists at 5.2 apg. Those aren’t marquee assist numbers, but Hill is also scoring more than ever, too.
“I’ve been lucky to get some good scoring games,” Hill said, “but it wasn’t where we needed to be as a team. Yes, we need me to score, but yes, we also need me to make it easier for other players on this team to get going.”
And whether he’s a point guard or not, that’s where Hill will earn his money—as a floor leader. That’s something he thinks he’s already doing pretty well almost a month into the season.
“I’m trying to be a leader, not just on the court, but off, and that’s by being vocal, leading by example, whether it’s doing the little things like getting lifts in or just holding people accountable,” he said. “Not being scared to tell people what they may not like to hear, but tell them in a positive way. That’s what I’m trying to do for this team.”
Whether fans and media want to label him a true point guard or not, there has been a certain measure of criticism for Indiana inking Hill to a five-year, $40 million deal this past season. He’s played up to that money so far, but not everyone was always convinced that would be the case. Hill himself has said that the money has had zero impact on his motivation to get better.
“I never looked at it as, ‘I need to get paid’ or doing this money,” Hill said. “I play basketball because it’s what I love to do. I never was the type that had that drive for money because I never had it growing up as a kid. That’s not what pushes me. What pushes me is being a positive role model and the love that I’ve got for the game. I think you should earn everything and lead and play your butt off to be the best player you could possibly be night in and night out.”
So far, that’s exactly what Hill has done, and he’s done it for the team he grew up watching. He’s an Indianapolis native—he grew up there, went to high school and college there, and now is playing professionally there. This isn’t just a dream come true for this guy; it’s the dream come true.
“When I came in as a guard in the NBA, my dream was always to play for my hometown team,” he said. “I’m with the fans. I’m with people I grew up with, family, close friends. It’s always good to be a hometown hero and have kids who maybe grew up in the same neighborhood or grew up in the same way you did can look up to you and say, ‘Hey, George Hill did it, so why can’t we?’”
Behind Hill’s leadership, that’s the same question the Pacers will be asking the next few years as they watch their young core grow into an experienced veteran core: “Why can’t we?”
Is Jeremy Pargo For Real?
When Jeremy Lin started to whoop up on the league about halfway through last season, hoops fans all over the world lost their minds with disbelief. What Jeremy Pargo (no relation) did in his first game as Kyrie Irving’s replacement while Irving heals a broken finger for the next month was a much smaller sample size, but still pretty impressive.
Pargo, the younger brother of Washington’s Jannero Pargo, exploded onto the scene Wednesday night by scoring 28 points on 11-for-19 shooting, including 4 three-pointers, 4 assists, and 5 rebounds, and it was a performance that literally came out of nowhere. Just about everything he did that night was a career-high, but he’s only played in four of the team’s eleven games so far.
With 39 minutes, he was the only point guard to see the floor in the first game sans-Kyrie, so whatever else happens over the course of the next four weeks, Pargo is going to see more than his fair share of minutes. The real question, of course, is whether or not Pargo is for real.
On the surface, the safest answer is probably not. Pargo played four years at Gonzaga and was a second-round draft pick in 2009. He then played in Israel for two years and averaged fewer than 10 mpg as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies last season. This is technically only his second NBA season, but he’ll be 27 years old by the time the season ends. Players don’t usually just “find” themselves this late in their careers, which means Pargo’s 28-point explosion was probably just a rally good game and not a precognition of a top-five NBA scorer for the next half a decade.
For fantasy purposes, though, Pargo looks like a nice grab over the course of the next few weeks. He’s going to see a ton of minutes, which probably means good numbers simply because there isn’t really anybody else expected to run the point. Donald Sloan is there, but nobody really expects much out of him.
But, then again, nobody really expected much out of Pargo, either.
Royce White Writes Twitter Manifesto
By this point, we know that Royce White isn’t having any easy time. His anxiety disorder has kept him from playing a single game with the Houston Rockets, and fans and media alike have given him an extremely hard time for stepping away from the team because he was, essentially, anxious to the point of illness when it came to traveling on an airplane.
White is actually a very well-spoken, likeable, mature guy, but because of his anxiety struggles he’s gotten nothing but grief since his story came to light. Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote a pretty tough piece about White a couple of weeks ago, which White apparently just read, because early Saturday morning he took to Twitter on a rampage against Wojnarowksi and the misunderstanding of his disorder in general.
“You wrote a nice… long… MISREPRESENTING article, I think it merits a equally long TRUTHFUL response!” White tweeted. “I NEVER ‘Railed’ against seeing their doctor, who, by the way, now agrees with me and has seen first hand the “inconsistency’.
“Im owed asking for safe work conditions, including acknowledgment of my disorder being a medical condition,” he added. “sports shouldn’t be at the expense of health.”
Of course, anybody who follows White on Twitter knows he’s been very transparent about what’s been going on. His perspective hasn’t exactly been kept a secret, and in fact this whole experience has turned him into an unofficial advocate for all sorts of mental illnesses that may or may not be recognized by workplaces.
“Almost EVERY profession gives accommodations for disabilities now, wake up! how can we be this uninformed?” he asked, adding, “When ‘supporting’ a person with #mentalillness you can’t decide what kind of support is appropriate without at least a basic knowledge base.”
For White, right now that’s the most important thing. Clearly, the money he’s losing isn’t a serious issue to him, and he’s said as much more than once during this process.
“Never compromise your health in the interest of $,” he wrote. “Most ONLY care for $, so you’ll never stop giving… $ only buys so much!”
In the end, White was really just defending himself and using Wojnarowski as a sounding board, but this is a guy who’s exhausted by criticism for something he really can’t help. Anybody who thinks for a minute that a guy like this doesn’t want to realize his dream and play for an NBA team is crazy. That should put this all in perspective. If the guy is willing to let this opportunity go, it’s got to be serious.
Yes, he’s squandering an opportunity, but he knows that. He’s weighed the risk and has accepted the repercussions of his decision to address this thing the way he has. When he was drafted, he’d hoped something could be worked out. That hasn’t happened, and so the guy is frustrated. It’s really hard to blame him for that.
“I feel bad for people who think that other ppl’s ‘issues’ aren’t their issues,” he said.
At some point, they’re everybody’s issues.”
Wojnarowksi wrote something that likely came from well-informed sources, and there are definitely nuggets of truth to what ended up in the article, but apparently enough of it was wrong to get White all fired up.
Since he left the team, White has spent most of his time trying to help people get it right. Honestly, we’d all want the same thing if were in his position.