A first-round pick of San Antonio in 2008, George Hill spent his first three seasons with the Spurs before the organization traded him on draft night in 2011 to the Indiana Pacers for Kawhi Leonard.
San Antonio acquired the draft rights to Leonard — an unknown commodity at the time — as well as Davis Bertans and Erazem Lorbek for Hill.
It was a move that many in San Antonio, including players, that were not happy about. But, we all know how it has effected San Antonio. Leonard has grown into one of the leagues best two-way player.
Making his return to San Antonio with the Utah Jazz, Hill dished seven assists to go with his team-high 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Hill joined the Jazz last summer through a trade from the Indiana Pacers.
Oct 25, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Utah Jazz guard George Hill (3) looks to pass the ball against the Portland Trail Blazers in the first half at Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
Ironically enough, the last time the Jazz won in San Antonio, Hill started at guard for the Spurs.
The Jazz brought in Hill to provide experience and a veteran presence. The Spurs, meanwhile, are counting on Leonard to lead somewhat of a youth movement for years to come.
Despite his departure from San Antonio, Hill definitely learned to appreciate the organization after joining the Pacers.
“After I went from S.A. to Indiana, I started to feel like, ‘Man that’s one of the best organizations, how it’s ran,’ ” Hill said. “I think they do a great job keeping this ship afloat, year after year out. They bring in high-quality guys, and it’s a system that’s pretty dominant in this league. The way Utah is run is kind of similar. But we’re at the starting point. [In San Antonio] it’s more than just basketball. That’s one thing Coach Pop brings to the table. It’s not about us coming out every night and playing in front of thousands of fans. It’s about being a better guy in the community, being respectful, being a genuine good guy. That’s what he tries to develop in his guys before we ever step on the court.”
Hill has shown to be those things that Popovich instills in his player. Many would of liked to see Hill remain in a Spurs jersey, but business is business and what he brings to Utah will help that team grow.
Hill scored eight of the team’s final 15 point over the last five minutes of the game and mentioned he learned to perform in clutch situations from Pop.
“Act like you’ve been there before,” Hill said. “Coach Pop always instilled that in me my first three years here. Don’t show really that much emotion unless it’s part of the game. That’s what I try to instill in the guys.
It is always good to see guys turning back to what they were taught. Hill has always seemed to be one to not forget about what he has learned.
Quin Snyder likes having Hill on the team as it helps with communication with the players.
“He knows what to say and what to do. I know for me it’s terrific to have somebody you can communicate with on the floor and who can relay [the message].”