The Indiana Pacers continued confusing NBA Draft pundits and their fans when they selected Solomon Hill in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft. I say confuse because for the second-straight draft, the Pacers selected a player in the first round who was projected as a second-rounder. But unlike Miles Plumlee in 2012, Hill looks like he’ll be able to contribute in the near future.
Hill played four years at the University of Arizona where he finished his senior season averaging 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. He followed that up with his NBA Summer League debut where he averaged 12.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists, essentially transitioning from college to the NBA seamlessly.
It’s more than likely that Hill will spend most of his rookie season with the Pacers’ D-League affiliate, Fort Wayne Mad Ants. The Pacers and the majority of other NBA teams have begun using the D-League to get their lower-tier players some playing time instead of simply sticking them at the end of the bench. Hill will have the opportunity to use his D-League time to get adjusted to the pace and lengthy schedule of the NBA.
That experience combined with practicing with the likes of Paul George, Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert will prove to be crucial in Hill’s sophomore season. The Pacers will likely lose Granger at the end of the year due to the limited cap space they will have. After extending George and re-signing Lance Stephenson – most fans assume Stephenson will re-sign, but it all depends on the dollar amount – the Pacers would not be able to match what Granger is likely to fetch on the open market.
And that’s what makes this season a perfect situation for Hill. The Pacers do not need him to step in and contribute in any fashion, unless George or Granger go down with injury. He will be able to learn at his own pace and work on creating chemistry with the rest of the squad.
Can’t beat that.
Hill’s rookie season will definitely be a learning experience, full of its ups and downs. But using his D-League experience and practice time this season will play heavily in his favor when the Pacers need him to step up.
Mathew Muncy is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MMuncy.