The Chandler Parsons era is over. Long live Solomon Hill.
The Memphis Grizzlies traded away Parsons to the Hawks for Hill and Miles Plumlee. One large expiring contract and the animosity between Parsons and the Grizzlies are gone for flyers on two veteran pieces.
The first of those pieces, Solomon Hill, has had an inconsistent career, and it has only been more up and down since signing a 4-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2015. How does Hill fit on to an almost brand-new Memphis Grizzlies roster? Can he stay healthy and productive for the entire season? These are questions that will need to be answered this season.
2018-19 Season Overview
44 games, 20 minutes-per-game, 4.3 points-per-game, 3.0 rebounds-per-game, 1.3 assists-per-game, .382/.317/.719 FG/3P/FT percentage, 6.8 PER, .497 true shooting percentage, -6.7 on-off per 100 possessions
Solomon Hill’s last season was a rocky one. He missed huge chunks of time during the season and could hardly find playing time on a bad New Orleans team with the Anthony Davis shadow casting over them. While New Orleans had a glutton of bigs, the wing positions were always lacking, providing ample opportunity over the past few years — and last year in particular for a player like Hill to assert himself.
That never happened. He lacked an efficient “3” to be the true 3-and-D threat he’s been projected to be since he was in Indiana. Instead, Hill bounced back and forth between the court and the bench before he found himself traded to Atlanta this offseason in a deal centered around draft picks and promptly sent to Memphis for Parsons.
Hill could be the 2nd or 3rd wing player off the bench with a likelihood of playing the PF position at times when the Grizzlies want to play faster. He has the capability to be the prototypical spot-up shooter and perimeter defender with the confidence to handle the ball and attempt to create for himself when the opportunity presents itself. Hill can also be another sizable body to throw at the elite wings in the Western Conference if all else fails.
When Hill is available, he’ll likely get 12-18 minutes a game (assuming Iguodala and Josh Jackson don’t play for the Grizzlies this season), while being a veteran leader for the younger players on the team. However, projecting that availability has been tough with Solomon Hill recently. Two straight seasons of injuries have taken a toll on Hill’s play and the ability of teams to depend on him. With this also being Taylor Jenkins’ first season as head coach, it’s hard to project at this time how valuable Solomon Hill will be in his system. There’s a wide variance in what his role could be, but the ceiling does not appear to be too high even based on his healthy seasons.
2019-20 Best Case Scenario
With Iguodala and Jackson out of the mix, Solomon Hill finds a role as the first 3-4 off the bench to give Jae Crowder and Kyle Anderson some relief. Motivated in his contract year, Solomon Hill becomes a three-and-D specialist and becomes a steady contributor no matter with whom he shares the court.
Of course, this is the best case scenario, but it’s also quite realistic. There was a reason New Orleans gave him a (pre-salary cap bump) massive payday in the summer of 2015. There is also a significant chance Jae Crowder is traded mid-season to a contender as he is on a very palatable contract in its last season. While both Crowder and Hill are on expiring deals, Crowder’s value is likely a lot higher with his reputation as a solid contributor and ability to stay on the court. With Crowder possibly traded away to a playoff contender, the increased playing time and opportunity allow Solomon Hill to shine. He plays great defense, hits open shots, and is a steady hand on a team full of young prospects.
2019-20 Worst Case Scenario
Solomon Hill continues to have trouble staying on the court with his third straight season playing less than 1000 minutes. His inconsistency follows him to Memphis and the Grizzlies just run the clock out on his expiring deal until the season ends or he can be bought out.
A true WORST case scenario would likely mean Hill never plays a game for Memphis. He’s played 66 out of a total 164 regular season games over the last two years; it would not be that surprising if he was kept off the court for whatever reason.
A more likely worst case scenario would be a replication of those last two seasons. Not being able to depend on Hill to play night-to-night could lead to him being pushed further and further down the rotation. Between Jae Crowder, Kyle Anderson, Dillon Brooks, and Grayson Allen, it’s conceivable to see Solomon Hill left out of the fun and toiling away before hitting free agency in 2020.
Expect Solomon Hill to be helpful when he is on the court this season. His play on the court, while unspectacular, is not the biggest question mark about him. It’s whether he can stay on the court. Injuries have held him back for three straight years now. I’m not sure if one should go into the season expecting Solomon Hill to play 75+ games.
In a contract year, Solomon Hill could be expected to outperform those last three disappointing seasons. For Hill, outperfmoning won’t mean averaging 20 points a night (though that would be nice), rather, it’ll be a year of staying healthy and being consistent of both ends of the floor.
It’s best to keep expectations in check for Hill. While a useful player, even his peaks were not anything to write home about. The Grizzlies and its fans should look at Solomon Hill’s presence on the team for what it is: a flyer on a veteran player in a contract year. The variance here could be huge, but if the Grizzlies ask Hill to be a steady contributor off the bench on occasion rather than a starter to depend on, Solomon Hill should have a moderately successful year.