Milwaukee Bucks: George Hill’s defense remains underrated

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 19 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 19 (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks’ success on the defensive end over the last two seasons has been impressive and veteran guard George Hill has made his mark on that end of the floor.

The influence that George Hill has brought to the Milwaukee Bucks hasn’t gone unnoticed.

This 2019-20 Bucks team certainly hasn’t lacked a number of veteran presences, but Hill was the first move in a long line of them the Bucks made to revamp their roster to bring in viable, experienced players as they made their rise to the top of the NBA throughout the previous season.

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As the league’s leading 3-point shooter, Hill’s sparkling shooting has obviously caught the eyes of many fans and followers throughout the NBA, yet the 12-year-veteran’s defensive abilities remain the backbone to his and the team’s success.

Hill fits in the list of long, athletic backcourt defenders the Bucks have amassed over the last few seasons between himself, Eric Bledsoe, Pat Connaughton and Donte DiVincenzo.

And as we explored in regard to Bledsoe a couple of weeks back, it’s the combination of Hill’s athleticism, length and overall savvy that makes him a valuable defender at the point of attack, especially in the frame of the Bucks’ defensive scheme.

With the incredible amount of rim protection the Bucks possess through Giannis Antetokounmpo as well as the Lopez brothers that’s behind their defensive system, the Bucks’ guards have the harder job of being tasked to maneuver around screens and to try to disrupt pick-and-rolls or shots attempted by opposing lead ball handlers.

It’s Hill’s 6’9″ wingspan and reactionary quickness that helps him exceptionally well in this regard as well as the ability to take on switches when guarding bigger players, that is when Milwaukee opts to go for a switching defense.

Hill’s poise, regardless of any situation, is what makes him such a reliable player and even more so in the context of the level of on-ball defense he provides.

When talking about it with Jordan Greer of the Sporting News last month before the season stoppage, the 33-year-old discussed the importance of the Bucks’ guards defensive roles and why they’re so good at contesting shots in seemingly impossible ways:

"“It’s very rare, but it’s something that we emphasize,” Hill told Sporting News. “We know right now we should have the Defensive Player of the Year in Brook back there blocking shots. We have another (NBA All-Defensive) First Team big man in Giannis on the defensive end, so our job is just to do the best we can without getting screened, contest shots.“Normally guards are scared to go in and go draw layups versus our bigs because Brook does so well protecting the rim and things like that. We know that they normally shoot a lot of pull-ups, and it’s just trying to get late contests.”"

And as Greer pointed out, the fact the Bucks are able to enjoy the level of defensive success they have while rarely fouling, as evidenced by their fourth-ranked opponent free throw attempt rate via, is flat-out remarkable,

The Bucks’ resounding defensive success this season hasn’t illustrated Hill’s defensive importance as much as it did last year where the Bucks allowed 7.2 points per 100 possessions fewer when Hill was on the court compared to when he was off of it. This season, Hill has a 101.4 defensive rating, which is slightly higher from the 100.1 points per 100 possessions the Bucks allow without him on the court.

Even still, the context of Hill’s on-court defensive rating is very important here as it would still better any total defensive rating compiled by any opposing team and even the Bucks’ own 101.6 defensive rating, which helps them to take the top spot in defensive efficiency for the second straight year.

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There are a number of figures to point to in the Bucks’ all-around success, but Hill being the experienced jack of all trades that he is makes him a contributor that shouldn’t go underappreciated.