As all NBA head coaches do, Alvin Gentry takes to the podium after every home game to discuss the night’s contest.
Depending on Phoenix’s performance, Gentry is either complimentary of his team, or brutally honest about the Suns’ performance.
But no matter the end result, Gentry can almost always be found praising one aspect of the game — Grant Hill’s defense.
The 38-year-old guards the oppositions best player — point guard or power forward — on a nightly basis and does an admirable job, not just by Phoenix Suns standards.
“I’m going to say it until somebody hears it or somebody writes it: If Grant Hill is not on the All-Defensive team, then I don’t know who should be. I really don’t,” Gentry said after Hill limited Kevin Martin to 5-for-16 shooting.
But despite Hill’s lockdown defense and continual praise from his head coach, ESPN’s John Hollinger snubbed the swingman from his recent All-Defensive Team.
Not only did Hill not make the first-team for small forwards, he was snubbed from second and third team as well. The 38-year-old lockdown defender was only named under Hollinger’s honorable mention section.
“Phoenix is pushing Grant Hill (minus-0.66) for All-Defensive honors, and certainly what he’s done at 38 has been amazing,” Hollinger wrote. “But at this end of the floor, there’s a huge difference between ‘really good for a Sun’ and “really good.'”
Hollinger is as respected as they come in the business, but Hill is more than just “really good for a Sun.” He’s asked to do more on the defensive end than any other player in the NBA, and he’s forced Durant into 3-for-14 shooting, Deron Williams into 2-for-11 shooting and Tyreke Evans into 2-for-12 shooting, just to name a few.
Hill’s also battled on the block with the likes of Blake Griffin, and most recently limited Nowitzki to 15 points on 6-of-19 shooting. Yet, Hollinger opted to go with Andre Iguodala for first team, LeBron James for second team and Paul Pierce for third team.
It’s hard to complain about Iguodala, whose length and athletic ability make him one of the NBA’s premier defenders. But not only does he play shooting guard for the Sixers, his defensive numbers really aren’t better than Hill’s.
According to Synergy Sports Technology, Hill limites opponents to 36 percent shooting, while Iguodala holds the opposition to 36.6 percent shooting. Hill’s also defended 98 more shot attempts than Iguodala.
In isolation situations — which people often use to judge a defender — Hill yields 35.6 percent shooting compared to Iguodala’s 38.8 percent shooting. Iguodala does have almost twice as many steals as Hill, but the 38-year-old leads the NBA in charges taken, which is obviously also a turnover.
I get the argument that the Suns are one of the league’s worst defensive teams, but wouldn’t that mean Hill should get more credit for limiting such studs to poor numbers with little to no help around him? I certainly think so. Then add in that he’s 11 years older than Iguodala and it makes it even more clear that he deserves the nod.
But I’m OK with such a great defender — and U of A alum — taking first team, but James and Pierce for second and third team? LeBron is certainly a sound defender who has similar Synergy numbers to Hill, however he plays on arguably the NBA’s best defensive team.
He has help all around him and Dwyane Wade is one of the better defensive shooting guards in the NBA. Hill edges James by three percent in defensive field goal percentage against isolations, while defending 21 more shot attempts. Although there isn’t much James can’t do, Hill is a better on-the-ball defender than King James.
LeBron may be famous for his patented transition swat from behind, but Hill’s league-leading charges taken, while not as glamourous, are just as effective.
Hill also has slightly better Synergy numbers than Pierce and is more valuable to the Suns’ defense than Pierce is to an already stout Celtics defense. All three of Hollinger’s picks are among the best defensive swingmen in the NBA and deserve praise for their defensive efforts that are often overshadowed by their offense.
But Hill locks down All-Stars on a regular basis, and does it with absolutely no defensive help. The recent argument surrounding Derrick Rose and the MVP race is not to buy into the story, and strictly look at production. But the story is always a factor, and Rose will most likely win the MVP because of that.
Well Hill’s story is even more impressive — a formerly injury-derailed 38-year-old now locking down some of the NBA’s premier players. Hill may not make first-team all-defense, but it’s a travesty if he doesn’t garner any defensive honors for his efforts this season.
Tags: Grant Hill