When Solomon Hill was picked 23rd in the 2013 NBA Draft, it caught a lot of people off guard. Hill had been pegged as a second round pick, but the Indianapolis Pacers scooped him up well before then. Fans may have been surprised, but the Pacers management knew they had their man.
“We graded out his defensive possessions and we thought he was terrific defensively,” general manager Kevin Pritchard said. “We think he’s going to be a good defensive player and that’s our culture.”
A few months later, and the praise has stopped rolling in for Hill. As training camp started earlier this week, teammates Paul George and David West both had good things to say about the rookie.
“He should be a Pacer for awhile,” George said to NBA.com’s Mark Montieth. “He plays the game beyond his years. He can do everything. He can defend, he can shoot the ball, he can create for himself, he can rebound. I think he’ll surprise some people.”
“He’s heady, he’s smart, he didn’t make a whole lot of mistakes,” said West. “Just from what I’ve seen, he’s going to be able to help us this year.”
Even head coach Frank Vogel was impressed with Hill in informal scrimmages, though he spoke candidly that the rookie would have to earn his way up the ladder.
“He’s a rookie so he’s at the very bottom of the depth chart for now,” Vogel said. “But I don’t anticipate he’s going to stay there for long. If he were called on and he had to be a big factor opening night, he would do very well. He’s shown me a lot already.”
Still, the early part of Hill’s young NBA career has been nothing but good. He even signed an endorsement deal with Nike days ago. While other rookies are making headlines for injuries and disciplinary action, it’s been all positivity surrounding Hill.
But even if all the arrows are pointing up, Hill still has an upward climb towards playing a contributing role on the court next year. With a crowded wing rotation including a healthy Danny Granger, opportunities may be hard to come by.
Although, Hill doesn’t seem to be worried.
“I’m not playing for my individual stats,” Hill said. “I mold to the team. I just try to transform my game, depending on what the team needs.”
“It’s really no problem for me, because I get a chance to fulfill my dream of playing in the NBA,” he said.
While Hill keeps working hard and saying the right things, the stars keep seeming to align. With the news that Vogel intends to use swingman Chris Copeland mostly at power forward, a crowded rotation just got a little bit less crowded.
But don’t think that’s going to change Hill’s approach at all.
“If I can help the team any way possible,” he said, “that’s all I care about.”