Mid-season additions are almost inherently a roll of the dice. Sometimes you throw down some 2078 second-round picks for the chance to get snake eyes on a Nikola Mirotic. Other times you bet that a veteran just needs a change of scenery to get right and the result is a George Hill
Hill, who joined the Bucks after being mercifully rescued from the Cleveland Cavaliers (sorry, John Henson and Matthew Dellavedova) was spun as an experienced guard who would cost Milwaukee nearly nothing to take a shot on. His salary for 2019-20 at the time was set to be $17 million, but was only guaranteed up to $1 million. If it didn’t work out it wouldn’t have been any more than a swing a miss that resulted in a cleanup of the team’s cap sheet.
But, hey, would you know it? The 10-year veteran proved that he was more than an aging player on his way to mercenary minimum status. While his 47 regular season appearances as a Bucks lacked something of inspirational flair (dropping his output to career lows across the board and most importantly in his 28% three-point shooting) he showed signs of all-around craft that kept him valuable even in the most limited role of his long career.
Those trends would be fully fleshed out once the postseason began and Milwaukee needed some answers with Eric Bledsoe wobbling close to (and eventually leading to) implosion and Malcolm Brogdon still on the mend from plantar fasciitis. After a gutpunch in game one against the Boston Celtics, it was Hill who decisively answered the call and would go on to routinely swing the character of entire games until Milwaukee’s exit in the Eastern Conference Finals.
What was the key to his success? Namely, shooting the lights out of the ball far beyond career playoff averages from nearly every part of the court. This was a guy who went from so-so at times to a 70.2% shooter in the restricted area and 41.7% shooter from three. Watch this masterpiece from game three against the Raptors and extrapolate that out to weeks of post-season play:
That high-level reliability was exactly what Milwaukee needed and will most likely call upon again in 2019-2020. For all his trouble Hill was rewarded with a new three-year, $28.7 million contract (third year partially guaranteed) that will likely see him permanently ensconced in a role as first guy off the bench and a contender for a spot in the Bucks closing lineup.
He’s got the size and enough speed to still be a decent guard defender, but at age 33 there’s more craft (i.e. looking to cause havoc via steals) than physical imposition in his style. The Bucks have their sights set on what can be done in the postseason and so it wouldn’t be shocking if Hill sees his regular season assignments curtailed in the name of body preservation. Let the young guys like Donte DiVincenzo, Sterling Brown, and Pat Connaughton put in minutes on a cold January night in a back-to-back. George Hill is here for one thing and one thing only: Being the catch-all lubricant that helps propel Milwaukee to a Finals appearance and beyond.
2019 Brew Hoop Roster Ranking
5. George Hill
6. Wesley Matthews
7. Pat Connaughton
8. Robin Lopez
9. Kyle Korver
10. Sterling Brown
11. D.J. Wilson
12. Ersan Ilyasova
13. Donte DiVincenzo
14. Dragan Bender
15. Thanasis Antetokounmpo