In my original examination of Jordan Hill, the 8th pick in this year's draft by the New York Knicks, I was very negative. I wanted to spend another game watching him. I actually got two more looks at him.
In the first game, a 90-84 loss against the Chicago Bulls, I had Mike Lisboa of Bright Side of the Sun sitting with me. Mike provided two important things. One, a second pair of eyeballs and a sounding board for my critiques. Two, familiarity with Mike D'Antoni's system and what is expected out of their 4's. Funny, we didn't talk much about defense.
The second game was a 89-84 loss to the Washington Wizards.After watching him for two more games, I think I have a less negative attitude toward him, but I also think my assessment was pretty spot on. Allow me to explain.
In both games, Jordan put up pretty good numbers. In the Bulls game, he had 16 points and 9 rebounds -- and 9 fouls -- on 4-8 shooting from the field and 8-9 from the line. In the Wizards game, he had 21 points and 7 rebounds on 9-17 shooting from the field and 3-4 from the line.
Negative - His Body
Jordan is 6' 10" and 235 pounds. He turns 22 on July 27th. He is not a really young big man. He has very long arms. Why do I bring this up? Because when Mike and I were watching the Knicks-Bulls game, we routinely made the comment "he has long arms". He got that rebound because "he has long arms". He blocked that shot "because he has long arms". That type of thing. For instance, on one possession the Bulls' Nick Lewis -- who? this guy -- faced up on him in the post and blew right passed him. Hill turned around and blocked his shot from behind at the rim. Any NBA player would have just thrown it down, but Hill was able to save himself because of the lower competition and "he has long arms". He rebounded in a crowd because of his long arms.
Mike joined me after one quarter of play. After he had watched Jordan play for half a quarter or so, he turns to me and says, "Man, he looks like he needs to do some yoga or something. His body just looks so rigid." I laughed and pointed to my note at the top of the page "Predict back issues." Jordan just seems very stiff in the way he runs.
Strength, or lack thereof, is also an issue. He was routinely pushed around under the basket. He got a couple rebounds on airballs because he had been boxed under the backboard.
Think about this. In the game against the Wizards, he was out-muscled by Javale McGee. I'm serious. Javale McGee, besides being too fast, too tall, too springy, was also too physical for him. McGee went for 31 and 8 with 24 points at the half. McGee ran past him down court in transition. Drove past him in the paint. Jumped over him for rebounds. Pushed him around for more rebounds.
Somewhat Negative - Offensive Moves
For the first two games I watched him, Hill's offensive moves consisted of facing up, taking a dribble left, and shooting a jumper. Only in the third game did I start to see some of his impressive moves. He showed a good ability to take a quick first step and get toward the rim.
As Mike pointed out to me, he was horrific in setting picks and rolling to the basket. He neither set a good pick nor rolled effectively to the basket. Mike thinks this will be corrected by coaching.
Pretty Positive - Offensive Feel
One thing I was definitely wrong about in my initial assessment was his not knowing where the ball is. He showed an uncanny ability to rebound balls most guys couldn't. I think this is largely due to superior hands. On several occasions, I saw him rebound air balls when other players didn't know where the ball was. He would catch these and immediately go back up for easy points.
He also showed a very nice touch around the rim. He appears to be one of those guys who just has a knack for getting the ball in the basket. He would use a good first step to get passed his man, then use his touch to score. Although he wasn't physical enough, he was effective.
Mike and I agreed that his conditioning seemed very poor. I also think he lacked strength. I think these are strange things to have in a 22 year old, but they are correctable. If he develops his strength and conditioning, I think it will go a LONG way to helping him be more effective in the paint area.
Also in his defense,the Knicks ran some of the worst offense I saw at the Summer League -- Mike's opinion as well -- which may have contributed greatly to Jordan looking somewhat lost on plays and not knowing where to go.