Milwaukee Bucks: George Hill’s defense shouldn’t be overlooked

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 20: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 20: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

An outstanding shooting season has led to George Hill getting plenty of attention, but the importance of his defense to the Milwaukee Bucks is also key.

The Milwaukee Bucks received a welcome boost on Thursday night as they returned to action after the All-Star break.

Following a seven-game absence with a hamstring injury, George Hill was back in the fold for the Bucks with 20 minutes of playing time, affording Milwaukee one of their most important players once again.

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Considering that Hill currently leads the entire NBA in three-point percentage, there’s a very obvious value that he has provided to the Bucks so far this season.

With his always stellar playmaking, and general ability to dictate the offense and control the pace of play, Hill’s astounding shooting efforts have only further amplified his positive impact in his second season with the Bucks.

Currently posting shooting splits of .540/.511/.826, Hill has a very strong Sixth Man of the Year case building although, as my colleague Jordan Treske correctly noted earlier in the week, his scoring (9.6 points per game) is likely not quite gaudy enough for him to be recognized given the track record of that award.

Part of that conversation, though, is also tied very closely to one of Hill’s greatest strengths, and something that is probably falling under the radar given just how elite his shooting has been this year.

Of course, I’m referring to Hill’s incredible defense, something which he offered a reminder of in his 20 minutes of playing time on his return against the Pistons.

Hill picked up three steals in that Thursday night outing, but that ability to force turnovers and play the passing lanes is just one element of what makes the veteran such an accomplished defender.

At this point in his career, Hill is nothing short of a master of positioning. In his 12th season as a pro, Hill has a long track record as an excellent on-ball defender, but there is an added nuance to his defensive contributions as he continues to thrive in what may well be the home stretch in his NBA journey.

For the Bucks, Hill’s 6’3″ height and 6’9″ wingspan provide obvious value, while it’s also worth noting that he doesn’t seem to have lost a whole lot in terms of lateral quickness as he has aged. That allows Hill to lock down top-tier guards, but also to be incredibly comfortable and competent when cross matched with larger wings.

That feeds into a larger theme of Hill’s apparent influence on the Bucks’ defense, which is the sense of calm he emanates, and the element of order his versatility automatically provides to the team’s overall play on that end.

The Bucks’ juggernaut status on the defensive end of the floor is largely attributed to players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez, and Eric Bledsoe. This isn’t to say that their contributions aren’t immensely significant, but the Bucks’ defense couldn’t be as consistently dominant overall if it wasn’t for a player such as Hill driving the second unit, and never missing a beat when called upon in crunch time lineups.

Next. Donte DiVincenzo’s shooting could be an X-factor. dark

As Hill returns to play a crucial part in Milwaukee’s title push over the next few months, his defensive contributions should not be overlooked.