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Job Well Done, Solomon Hill

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Hill’s presence gave the Grizzlies bench time to grow

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Charlotte Hornets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Upon his arrival, Solomon Hill was not a player in which Grizzlies fans had lofty expectations. He was a member of a number of offseason moves.He found a home in Memphis as a part of the trade package that saw himself and Miles Plumlee come to Memphis as the Grizzlies shipped oft-injured forward Chandler Parsons to Atlanta, as the Grizzlies ate up salary cap space with expiring contracts. Solomon Hill averaged 4.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game coming off the bench for the New Orleans Pelicans last season. The questions surrounding Hill entering this season was whether he could potentially be a 3&D player for the Grizzlies as someone who could guard positions two through four.

Solomon Hill was also a part of the three team-trade that sent him, Jae Crowder, and Andre Igoudala to the Miami Heat in which the Grizzlies received Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters from Miami — as well as Gorgui Dieng from the Minnesota Timberwolves. While time is still needed to see the long term-benefits of the trade for all parties involved, for Hill, it has led him to being a member of a Miami team with championship aspirations. His role in Miami is a stark contrast from the one he possessed in Memphis, as he has only played in 11 games for the veteran playoff team.

In this “At His Best” and “At His Worst,” Hill displays why he was a fixture of the Memphis Grizzlies bench as a veteran for the young Grizzlies team.

At His Best

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Although Solomon Hill is in a better place as far as team success in Miami, individually he had his best performances as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. Per the Game Score measurement on basketball-reference.com, two of Hill’s three best games came in two different roles for the Grizzlies. His best game came in an early December loss to the Indiana Pacers filling in for an injured Kyle Anderson in the starting lineup, while his third best game of the season Hill came off the bench in a blowout loss to the Boston Celtics in late January.

Hill’s performance against Indiana comes at the tail end of a five-game hot streak that started right after Thanksgiving in which he shot 54% from the field and 61% from three point range. Hill, who has never been a volume scorer in the NBA, took advantage of every opportunity to put the ball in the basket, while hosting a positive net rating defensively. Against his former team, he put up one of the highest scoring performances of his career, scoring 22 points, making four of his six three point attempts, and adding six rebounds and three steals on the defensive end of the floor. This was an ideal performance as Hill displayed his value as a 3&D player.

In a more traditional situation, Hill came off the bench and scored 13 points, making three out of four three point attempts in 21 minutes of action against Boston. Although he did not match the defensive numbers of his best game, only having one steal and two rebounds, he was one of only two bench player to have a positive plus/minus in this disastrous game for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Solomon Hill was at his best when he got extended minutes and took advantage of his opportunities by making threes and contributing defensively. These opportunities are few and far between in Miami instead, receiving the “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision” distinction in the box score or playing around 15 minutes, which is where Solomon Hill can go from an efficient 3&D player to an inefficient and inconsistent player.

At His Worst

Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Solomon Hill was at his worst this season when he couldn’t make shots. In the 10 games this season, in which he garnered a negative game score, he shot a combined 2-30 from three point range with very few contributions defensively. This led to a mixed bag of results for the Grizzlies as the Grizzlies went 3-4 in the 7 instances this occurred while Hill was in a Grizzlies uniform.

In these instances, Solomon Hill played in standard minutes for a bench player that is not the 6th man hovering around 15 minutes. Failure to produce in limited opportunities reduces said opportunities especially on a team trying to win. This leads to the DNP-CD distinction that has often found a home next to his name on a playoff team in the Miami Heat that has a more experienced and talented team in contrast to the young Memphis Grizzlies team that allowed for a more expanded bench role for Hill. The veteran experience Solomon Hill provides is valuable during a playoff run. Without production though, it is simply that experience, which can be beneficial on the bench helping the players that are producing at a higher rate.

What’s Next?

New Zealand Breakers v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images

A lot of uncertainty lies ahead for Solomon Hill. Upon the conclusion of the Miami Heat’s playoff run, Solomon Hill will enter free agency in what will seemingly be the longest and most tumultuous off-season in NBA history. It would be safe to assume that Hill will not return to Miami as he currently lies outside of their rotation during this current playoff run. Instead, the numbers say Hill will most likely search for a team that will let him thrive as a front end bench player as he was in his previous stops in New Orleans and Memphis.

As for Memphis, they move into year two of their rebuild, as they continue to construct their bench of the future. The acquisition of Justise Winslow most likely pushes incumbent starter Kyle Anderson to the role of first wing off the bench. Josh Jackson, whom the Grizzlies allotted most of Hill’s minutes upon his departure, enters unrestricted free agency after a less-than-stellar finish to his tenure in Memphis. De’Anthony Melton will be a primary focus this offseason, as he enters restricted free agency, and Memphis will look to keep him alongside the returning Brandon Clarke and Grayson Allen on the Grizzlies bench.

Solomon Hill, for better or worse, did his job for the Memphis Grizzlies in the short and long term. He came to Memphis in his contract season and acted as a veteran placeholder on the bench, as the young Grizzlies matured around him. During this time, Hill embraced this role and acted as a mostly efficient 3&D option for the Grizzlies. For this act of professionalism, Memphis rewarded him giving him a chance to compete for a championship. His brief time with the Memphis Grizzlies helped give a young, inexperienced bench time to find themselves, as he fulfilled his role off the bench.

That time will be beneficial in the long run as the Grizzlies move forward with their own championship aspirations.

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