George Hill unhappy about being benched down the stretch against Bucks

WASHINGTON, DC -  NOVEMBER 13: George Hill /

George Hill started the Dec. 2 game against the Milwaukee Bucks but was on the bench down the stretch.  After the game, Hill let his feelings about the move be known.

The Sacramento Kings played the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 2 in the second of a back-to-back set.  The night began with Coach Joerger deciding to switch Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos into the starting five.  The group did not work out swimmingly, and it found itself on the bench for much of the game.  Sacramento lost 109-104, but it was the second unit that kept them in the game, and they were the unit playing down the stretch.

The starting five consisted of Cauley-Stein and Koufos plus Garrett Temple, De’Aaron Fox, and George Hill.  Cauley-Stein was injured in the second quarter and never returned.  You can read more about his back injury here.  Koufos played just nine minutes in the game.  De’Aaron Fox played 21 and Garrett Temple earned a full 32 minutes (not surprising given Sacramento’s lack of options to play the three).  The final starter, George Hill, saw just 18 minutes of action.

Hill’s playing time

George Hill not only played 18 minutes but here was the breakdown of minutes.  He began the game and was taken out with the rest of the starters three minutes and ten seconds into the game.  Hill did not re-enter the contest until halfway through the second period and finished the half on the court.  He then started the second half and played nine minutes in the third quarter before never returning to action.  Hill sent out the following Tweet after the game.

More than just this game

It has been an entire frustrating season for George Hill thus far.  He had arguably the best season of his career last year for the Jazz playing 31.5 minutes a night and averaging 16.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.9 3-pointers made, and 1.7 turnovers per game.  Hill earned a massive contract, and Sacramento gave it to him this offseason.  It has not gone as planned since.

George Hill is playing just 26.0 minutes a night for the Kings.  More troubling, he rarely handles the ball, is only taking 7.5 shot attempts per game lowest since his rookie season when he played 16 minutes a game, and Sacramento appears not to value his abilities.  Hill is averaging just 9.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.9 steals, 1.1 3-pointers made, and 1.2 turnovers per contest. I know the Kings drafted De’Aaron Fox to be their point guard of the future, and they are a rebuilding team, but why sign Hill if you had this plan?

Related Story: 3 goals for George Hill this season

Sports Illustrated ranked George Hill as the 63rd best player in the NBA before the season.   Sacramento is playing him like a reserve shooting guard that rarely touches the ball.  It is not a wonder George Hill is frustrated.

Changes coming?

Honestly, I doubt Coach Joerger starts playing George Hill more minutes.  Fifth overall pick De’Aaron Fox needs to play and grow as a lead point guard in the NBA and fellow rookie Frank Mason looks suited to be backup one in a 20-25 minute per game role right now.  That slides Hill away from the ball and on the periphery when you add Buddy Hield, Garrett Temple, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Vince Carter into that wing rotation.

The best move for all parties is probably a trade.  Sacramento can get a first-round selection from a contending squad, and George Hill can head to the playoffs.  Even if Hill is not receiving more playing time, he should be more content on a winning club.

Continue to monitor this developing situation in the coming days and weeks ahead.

Final thoughts

George Hill is a personal favorite player of mine, so I am sad about the current situation with the Kings.  I would love for Hill to stay, play a larger role, and thrive for Sacramento like I believed he would preseason.  Slowly, my hope is slipping away, though.  Still rooting for both the Kings and George Hill regardless of how this situation resolves itself.

Next: 2018 NBA mock draft 2.0

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