The NBA trade deadline has officially passed, and while Daryl Morey didn’t make the splash that some hoped he would, he at least made a small ripple in trading for George Hill.
The full Sixers-Thunder-Knicks deal, per league source:— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) March 25, 2021
Philly gets: George Hill, Iggy Brazdeikis
OKC gets: Tony Bradley, Philly's 2nd round picks in 2025 and 2026, and Austin Rivers
Knicks get: Terrance Ferguson, Vincent Poirier, 2021 2nd round pick from Philly
Hill was long understood to be on the block, and the Sixers have been linked to him for some time now. At 34 years old he isn’t the player he once was, but he’s a veteran of the NBA playoffs and provides a skillset that fills a number of the Sixers perceived needs.
Catch and shoot prowess
At this stage of his career the discussion around Hill starts with perimeter shooting—having led the NBA in three-point percentage last season at 46% (48.4% on catch-and-shoot) he offers something we know the Sixers value around Embiid and Simmons. While he isn’t the most dynamic shooter (most of his looks come in standstill and C&S opportunities) he’s elite in those regards, and is comfortable pulling-up when he’s in rhythm (though this season’s number don’t suggest it).
47% on catch-and-shoot ranks in the 95th percentile of the NBA, and Hill should also benefit from more spacing here than he was afforded in OKC. With only 10% of his attempts being considered “open” (13th percentile) and him ranking all the way down in the bottom four percent of “lineup spacing” this season, I have to imagine playing next to Embiid and the rest of this roster will be a welcome change of scenery.
While I wouldn’t call it a need, the Sixers definitely lacked playmaking off the bench and that‘s been clear during certain stretches of the season. Milton has been asked to carry the torch in terms of creating offense for the second unit, and while he possesses that skillset, he’s been overstretched in those responsibilities for much of the year.
Insert Hill, a point guard by trade whose 13 years of NBA experience makes him a clear upgrade over Milton in terms of playmaking—this may not immediately be clear in the regular season, but Hill’s seasoning will show-off in the playoffs. You can also expect Shake to be more effective moving forward now that he can let offense flow to him rather than being forced to initiate himself.
On-ball, point of attack defense
I’ve spent the last month or so banging the drum for the Sixers to upgrade their perimeter defense, particularly at the POA on quick-penetrating guards, and while Hill isn’t a stopper by any stretch of the imagination, he’s certainly an upgrade over what we have.
Excluding Thybulle (whose offense will severely limit his playing time come playoffs) the Sixers have been asking Danny Green and Ben Simmons to be their primary POA defenders this season. While Ben has been predictably strong in this regard, his primary role ought to be on the opponent’s top wing scorer (Durant, as a not-so-random example); and Green, who is a strong defender in other capacities, is I’ll-equipped to handle primary responsibilities at the POA.
Hill may be over the hill athletically, but possesses the requisite lateral quickness to at least keep up with opposing point guards. As you can see from his matchup data from last season (in my opinion, more relevant than this year’s data) Hill is still a competent perimeter defender who’s historically been asked to defend at the POA on primary ball handlers and the like.
Experience matters in the NBA playoffs, and you can’t win a championship in this league without veterans who have been there and done that. Danny Green was the first such addition this past offseason, and Hill adds another Finals winner to the mix of role players.
Trading a couple of future second round picks and non-rotation players to match salary is about as low of a price as Morey could have hoped for. The fact that Hill’s market underwhelmed speaks to his perception as someone who doesn’t “move the needle” for a number of teams, but he certainly helps iron out a number of the Sixers lingering issues (despite the fact that he doesn’t truly solve any one of them).
For a further understanding of Hill’s skillset here are his multi-year talent grades in a number of relevant areas:
All data courtesy of BBall Index.
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