may not have led the league in steals like Chris Paul, patrolled the paint like Dwight Howard or cracked SportsCenter’s Top 10 with transition swats like LeBron James, but the 38-year-old at least deserved a spot on the 2010-11 All-Defensive second team.
Whether he was locking down Kevin Durant or Manu Ginobili, Hill proved to be without a doubt one of the premier on-the-ball defenders in the NBA.
He led the league in charges taken and despite playing for a Suns team that ranked 26th in opponent’s field goal percentage, the 15-year vet consistently held superstars well under their scoring averages and shooting percentages.
But when the NBA’s 30 coaches put their heads together to vote on the best 10 defenders in the NBA — restricted by position — Hill was left on the outside looking in, falling four points shy of both Andre Iguodala and Joakim Noah.
His teammates were dumbfounded asTweeted, “How did @realgranthill33 not make 1st or 2nd team all defensive?”
replied, “Seriously! Every night. Different positions. Deserved it.”
But no one was more disappointed than Hill’s longtime coach and All-Defensive spokesman Alvin Gentry.
The Suns head coach told The Arizona Republic, “No one did more defensively for their team than him. He got punished for what we did as a team. I’d like to know who else guarded Amar’e Stoudemire, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Manu Ginobili, Kevin Durant and everything but a five.”
The coaches got the majority of the two teams correct as it’s hard to argue against Rajon Rondo, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard on the first team and Chris Paul, Tony Allen and Tyson Chandler on the second team.
But Hill outperformed Kobe Bryant — a first-team selection — on the defensive end, while rivaling both Iguoudala and Noah. In fact, if it weren’t for Noah being listed as both a forward and center, Hill would have made the second team as the squad’s second forward.
Both Noah and Iguodala finished with 15 total points (a first-team vote is worth two points and a second-team vote is worth one), while Hill ended up with 11 total points. Hill did, however, finish with four first-team votes, which was one more than Noah (three) and the most among players on the bubble.
What’s most mind-boggling is that Hill finished seventh in the NBA in Defensive Player of the Year voting, ahead of Bryant, Iguodala and Noah. Hill was also one of only five players not named Dwight Howard to finish with at least one first-place vote.
Kobe’s reputation landed him on the first team, as it’s tough to look past eight previous All-Defensive selections. But Hill, who has never made an All-Defensive team, did a better job defensively than Bryant this season.
According to Synergy Sports Technology, Hill held opponents to 0.83 points per possession, while Kobe yielded 0.89 PPP. Kobe did trump Hill in isolation defense, allowing only 0.76 PPP to Hill’s 0.87, but he played on a team surrounded by defensive talent.
Ron Artest more often than not took the opposing team’s best player, and the versatile Lamar Odom allowed Kobe to defend strictly shooting guards. Hill, on the other hand, guarded everyone from Derrick Rose (whom he held to an average of 10-for-24 shooting in two games) to Dirk Nowitzki and Blake Griffin.
Based on the numbers and defensive value to their respective team, Hill deserved the nod over Kobe. The only problem is that Hill didn’t qualify as a shooting guard, so first-team honors was out of the question.
But he still should have earned a spot over either Iguodala or Noah. While Iguodala edged Hill in PPP (0.81), the Suns’ SF held opponents to a lower FG% overall (36.8 compared to 37.9) and in isolation situations (36.6 compared to 42.3).
There’s no hiding Iguodala’s defensive prowess, but Hill shut down a wider range of players while playing stellar team defense. It’s hard to compare Hill and Noah because they play different positions, so the defensive numbers don’t have as much value.
But Noah played only 48 games, compared to Hill’s 80. How can a player that competed in just over half of the games make second-team All-Defense? With all of that said, Hill deserved a spot over Bryant, Iguodala and Noah, yet his outstanding defensive season goes unnoticed.
Here’s a look at whom he locked down over the course of the regular season:
Games vs PHX
PPG vs PHX
FG% vs PHX