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New Cavalier Breakdown: George Hill

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Examining how Cleveland’s new starting point guard fits both offensively and defensively.

Utah Jazz v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

On a day that saw the Cavs turnover their roster completely—shipping out six players and acquiring four—George Hill appears to be the crown jewel of the bunch from a win-now perspective.

Though his playing time was down in Sacramento, the 31-year old point guard is averaging 19 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists per 100 possessions while shooting 47% from the field and 45% from 3—an NBA-best for qualifying players.

Hill thrived as a second-option next to Gordon Hayward last season in Utah and is using just 16.9% of possessions this year—allowing the Cavs to clearly establish Kevin Love as the second option in the pecking order when he returns.

Hill joins a Cavs team that has a -7.2 Net Rating with a point guard on the floor this season and a +5.2 Net Rating without a point guard. He replaces Isaiah Thomas, whose -18.5 on/off Net Rating Differential was worst in the NBA.

Offense

Hill has been one of the most efficient players in the NBA since coming into the league, ranking in the 80th percentile or higher at his position in eFG% and points per shot attempt every year since his rookie season. His 56.2 eFG% ranks in the 94th percentile of all combo guards this year.

He is shooting 66% at the rim after shooting 63% there last season, demonstrating an ability to finish off the dribble over length.

Perhaps the biggest strength Hill brings to this Cavs team is his ability to shoot the 3-pointer. In addition to leading all qualified players in 3-point percentage, his 1.37 points per possession on spot-ups ranks 2nd in the NBA (minimum 50 possessions).

Hill has demonstrated an ability to spot-up off the ball on pick and rolls—a necessity for anyone playing next to LeBron James—and doesn’t need much space to get off his jumper.

Although Cleveland is not a high volume dribble handoff team (only finishing 2.8% of their possessions on handoffs, Hill leads the NBA in handoff points per possession (1.33 ppp). Hill can potentially slot into this action Cleveland incorporated some for Isaiah Thomas and Tristan Thompson at the left elbow.

But has also ran a similar handoff action to the one Cleveland employs on the left wing for Kyle Korver:

Hill fits the model Cleveland’s front office seemed to target at the trade deadline—players who are both high-volume and high-efficiency in transition. After scoring 1.4 ppp in transition last year, Hill is scoring 1.26 ppp in transition this season (12.8% of his possessions).

Finally, while Hill has never been a high assist player, his assists per usage ranks in the 50th percentile of all combo guards this season. Perhaps more importantly, he has ranked in the 80th percentile or higher in limiting turnovers every year of his career before seeing a slight uptick (44th percentile) in turnovers this season.

Defense

Hill instantaneously becomes the best defensive guard on Cleveland’s roster.

He is a 6’3” guard with a 6’9” wingspan, allowing him to be disruptive on the defensive end. He has maintained a steal percentage between 1.4% and 1.6% for essentially his entire career, which—while not elite—is above average.

Watch Hill fight through screens to stay attached to Kyle Lowry before ultimately recovering into the passing lane and disrupting the possession:

Before joining Sacramento this season, Hill’s teams had been better defensively with him on the floor for the last 5 seasons. However, opponents are shooting 9% better on corner 3s and 3% better at the rim with him on the floor this season (things that are mostly out of his control).

A welcome sight to Cavs fans may be the fact that opponents have gotten out in transition less with Hill on the floor each of the last seven seasons.

Conclusion

Even in a perceived down season this year, Hill has still been remarkably efficient for Sacramento. As long as he stays healthy, he will be a major addition to Cleveland’s quest to return to the NBA Finals.

He is able to play off the ball comfortably with his spot-up shooting and use that threat to attack closeouts and get to the rim. He looks to push the ball in transition for what should be a faster paced offense post-deadline and should fit excellently next to James and Love.

On defense, he immediately becomes the Cavs’ best point guard defender this decade. He can use his long arms to disrupt passing lanes and should be a welcome addition on that end.