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NBA / Feb 17, 2010 / 4:00 pm

Don’t write off Jordan Hill yet

Jordan Hill (photo. Nicky Woo)

By now you don’t need a Clyde Frazier pimp poem to tell you the Knicks probably wish they would have drafted Brandon Jennings — or Terrence Williams, or Tyler Hansbrough, or Ty Lawson — over Jordan Hill in last year’s NBA Draft.

Two-thirds of the way through his rookie year, Hill has played in less than half of New York’s games, and hasn’t done much (4.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg) when he does see the court. The 6-10 power forward out of Arizona appears every bit like just another left-too-early Draft bust. It doesn’t help that second-round picks and so-called “undersized” DeJuan Blair (Spurs), Dante Cunningham (Blazers) and Jon Brockman (Kings) are making bigger impacts on their respective teams at the same position as Hill. And the fact that the Knicks are reportedly close to trading their Top-10 pick in an effort to get T-Mac‘s expiring contract could be taken as just another sign that NY realizes it made a mistake.

But no matter what happens between now and the trade deadline, I wouldn’t write off Hill just yet.

Unlike a lot of players with whom you might be tempted compare him — Kwame Brown, Brandan Wright, Stromile Swift, etc. — Hill came into the League as more of a proven commodity than a ball of blind potential. In his junior year at Arizona he was good for 18 points, 11 boards and two blocks per game in a talent-heavy Pac-10; it’s not like Hill came straight out of high school or was a one-and-done who showed mere flashes of talent. He has a solid jump shot for a big man and a couple post moves, and he’s an energetic rebounder/defender. Considering Hill only started playing organized basketball in the ninth grade, not only does he have room to grow, he’s shown that he’s willing and able to learn.

Going into last year’s Draft, I wrote this about Hill:

He’s not exactly a “project,” but the team that gets Hill should be patient and not expect immediate impact. He’s kind of in that Chris Wilcox mold where the right coach and system could turn him into a beast, but the wrong situation could be the recipe for a bust. Out of all the Top-10 prospects in this year’s class, Hill might have the highest “bust” potential, right up there with (Ricky) Rubio and Hasheem Thabeet.

In our increasingly impatient sports climate, Hill is already being slapped with that “bust” label. But should he land in Houston, it could be the best thing to happen for his career. He’ll be able to work with a good coach in Rick Adelman who has already helped mold two PF’s with less natural talent than Hill — Luis Scola and Carl Landry — into borderline All-Stars. With Scola and Chuck Hayes in the last year of their contracts, and Landry only signed through 2011, playing time for Hill could open up sooner than expected in Houston. And if Yao Ming returns to anywhere near his All-NBA form, Hill would be able to spend his formative years in a low-pressure situation where his primary role is being an enforcer for Yao.

The Rockets seem willing to take on just about anybody to get rid of T-Mac’s contract, but a few years down the line, they could be looking at Jordan Hill as the steal of the 2010 trade deadline.

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  • http://www.worldstarhiphop.com da real

    just another example of how good Zeke was at findind and identifying talent. There is no way tha Isiah would have passed on Jennings. Bottom line is that if the knicks would have taken Jennings they could have signed two free agents besides Lebron, think Wade and Amare and had a team that could easily come out of the Eastern Conference without trying to win the Lebron sweepstake

  • BBDC

    He also found perenial all-star Renaldo Balkman.

  • LakeShow84

    Rookie or not getting out of NY would be a dream..

    And then to go to Houston where they have a good coach, good PG and some rough and tumble old school players like Scola and Landry would be a dream for the kid..

    Im telling everyone.. NY knows something we dont.. no way they would put all they eggs in one basket like this.. if they wrong they stuck in the bottom of the East for the next 4-5 years..

  • Gunner J. Matthews

    @ da real:

    To me, Isiah was overrated as far as finding talent. Why else would he trade a bunch of draft picks for Eddy Curry? Those pics wouldve helped NY down the road.

    Anyways, Hill to me just went to the wrong team. The second he got drafted to NY, I immediately thought “he isnt gonna play much in Mike’s system”. Hell, they shouldve traded that pick for one of Minnesota’s point guards

  • e

    the best thing that would happen to hills career is getting traded out of ny

  • http://dime eyes

    Does anybody ever think? Why are there so many poor teams with bad management/coaches/scouts etc? How many good situations are there for these young men coming into the league. Most are destined to fail. What a system baby. Where the Age restriction is meant to help the owners not the players.

    If all these H.O.F. college coaches would actually develop talent. Along with the AAU coaches etc. The league would be better. I’m talking to Coach K,Roy Williams,Boehim,Calhoun,Pitino. How many players have actually gotten better playing with their respective coach. Was it the player being that good that boosted the person’s resume. This whole thing drafting of the best player going to the worse team. There’s a reason you stink. Aside from injuries.

    The league needs to be blown up & re-did like some teams. It reeks of favors & friends looking out for friends. How many people actually care if they’re is a lock out or not. Would Stern work for a $1. Are coaches underpaid. What happens to dime & all the writers. Camera man etc.

    Stop moving backwards & having nonsense meetings. Fix the actual problem. Life should be fair. Why isn’t it? They didn’t really teach you that in school. Why do politics run everything? How could someone with no experience be responsible for affecting so many? What do you expect? Lebron/Wade/Melo/Durant/Rose are just supposed to carry us into the future. Was a N.B.A. Jam a look into the future. You might as well have 2 players representing teams now. Too many bums in the league. To many stars out the league. Ask your stars what they think. They can’t speak the truth even on Twitter. They’ll be fined. Way to control everything. Even Barkley who would call out anybody with that DUI. I’m pretty sure that could keep him in check. Kobe,Mike,A.I.,Melo,Sprewell and many other were scolded in many ways.

  • KnicksFan84

    Hill is the new Darko, funny they both teammates.

  • Maynard

    Not only did Isiah find Balkman, he found him over Rondo.

  • Bladams

    Gunner J Matthews (comment # 4) is right about Hill not “gonna to play much in Mike’s system.”
    I’m from Phoenix and, for the most part, I really like Mike (he brought excitement back to the NBA). However; one thing I don’t like is the fact he doesn’t play many players – and rookies he really doesn’t play. That was one of the disagreements between him and Steve Kerr.
    Look what has happened with Hill. He gets some playing time, looks good and Mike talks about putting him in then rotation. Then Hill disappears again.
    Remember Hill didn’t start playing basketball until relatively late in life. When he was a freshman at Arizona, I didn’t understand why he was on the team.
    By the time he was a junior he was a beast. Oh, I guess Lute Olson could see things I couldn’t, big suprise that is.

  • weaksidehelp

    jordan hill = josh powell. and darko got traded today.