Solomon Hill, who appeared in 21 games and just a total of 301 minutes, is coming off a 2017-18 season vastly lost to injury. He never enjoyed 100% health but rejoined the rotation earlier than he should have in order to help the New Orleans Pelicans reach the postseason and make some waves while there.
After an offseason in which he was able to get himself physically right though, what would Hill need to do/prove he is worthy of reclaiming a role in the starting five?
Kevin: If Nikola Mirotic wins the starting job next to Anthony Davis, I believe the SF position is Hill’s to lose to start the season. However, should Julius Randle start over Niko, I believe E’Twaun Moore will be utilized to help space the floor. Of course, there is an outside chance Hill could win the starting nod even if the deep ball sits around 34% — if he returns to being a plus defender and get the tiniest injection of off-ball Jrue’s mentality.
Jamile: For Solomon Hill it’s simple: prove to me that you can still defend at a high level. Let’s face it, Hill is 27 years old and will be entering his sixth NBA season — He’s not going to transform into a Splash Brother overnight. His likely remaining value to the Pelicans is as a wing defender who can at least make good scorers a little less efficient.
If he can return to his old defensive form and just not be embarrassing offensively, however, I wouldn’t mind him in the starting lineup — but even then it’s based on the opponent. If the Pels are lucky, Hill will start the year out shooting well from deep, making it slightly easier to move the pile of chewed up crawfish heads that is his contract.
Preston: Return to his 2016-17 form defensively and improve in any category offensively.
Hill finished the 2016-17 season with a dreadful 48% rate within five feet, 29% from 5-9, and so on and so forth. He grades as a C- or worse in every offensive category and doesn’t affect the boards in a meaningful capacity. Solomon Hill needs to take a significant leap in the third year of his four year, $48 million contract, or he may find himself a waive and stretch candidate in the summer of 2019.
Zachary: They say a person’s best ability is availability and that applies specifically to Solomon Hill’s three point-shooting. Hill can’t be a 3-and-D wing without the three, you know? If Hill is going to log heavy minutes, he has to be able to hit shots from outside — he can’t be a non-threat on the floor. Especially with Elfrid Payton out on the floor, New Orleans’ offense cannot play three on five. Signing Hill to the deal he got was questionable at best, and now he’s gotta put up or shut up.
Oleh: Realistically speaking, I don’t foresee Hill reclaiming his old starting role at small forward. With a deeper, more talented team from two years ago, the Pelicans have the right to be more selective, and therefore, surround the other starters with the best fitting piece.
Unless Hill develops a deadly outside shot and displays an ability to handle the ball/make decisions on the fly, it’s impossible to imagine he would make for a better choice than E’Twaun Moore, despite the size disparity. Alvin Gentry wants to run, run, run so the starting five are going to need more out of Hill than just his premium defensive versatility. By all appearances, he is best suited to function as a defensive stopper off the bench and that’s the role I feel the coaching staff envisions, too.
Travis: Solo has a very simple, yet vital role: make open shots, defend and rebound. He doesn’t need to do much else because Jrue, AD, Mirotic and Randle will do most of the heavy lifting.
A huge reason why E’Twuan Moore has become so important is because the guy simply doesn’t miss open shots! He’s a great 3-point shooter, with some on-ball scoring abilities, too. Even though he’s a little small to defend 3s, he makes up for it by playing conservatively on that end and having great pace and offensive spacial awareness and understanding. TBW is all in on E’Twuan and you should be too!