Jordan Hill’s Big Night

I had planned to highlight the relationship between Aaron Brooks and Kevin Martin during last night’s game. That was before Jordan Hill decided to show a pulse. The Houston Rockets’ rookie forward had career highs across the board, scoring 12 points and grabbing 8 boards in his 23 minutes of play.

A few things stood out immediately. First, this is the first power forward prospect with legitimate size and athleticism that the Houston Rockets have had in quite some time. Hill is currently a very gangly 6’10, but after his first real offseason as an NBA player, you can see him filling out that frame with added muscle and growing into a full-sized power forward.

Secondly, Hill ran the floor hard on every possession. With that said, during analysis of unique circumstances, I am extremely weary of making characterizations based on effort-driven production. What I mean is that I hesitate to assert that “Jordan Hill runs the floor hard” or “is a great running big man” when this was the first night of his career playing big minutes – obviously he would want to play his hardest and impress the coaching staff, so we can’t make any conclusions regarding the sustainability, similar to McGrady’s defensive efforts upon his return. However, while we can’t conclude whether he’ll consistently continue these efforts, I think we can conclude that he’s a very fast runner for a ‘big’ as he consistently beat the Pistons down the court and found himself open on almost every trip.

Next point is that Jordan Hill is very active both on the glass and on the weak side. While he didn’t actually get any blocks, he came over to challenge almost every shot that was in his vicinity and definitely bothered the Pistons on many occasions with his length. This was very encouraging to see as the Houston Rockets have not had a springy shot-blocker/rebounder in the regular rotation since the days of the late Eddie Griffin.

Now, while Jordan Hill is athletic, he is not freakish by any means. This is not to say that freakish athleticism is necessary for effectiveness, but I feel the distinction should at least be brought to attention – this is not an Amare Stoudemire type of athlete of whom we are speaking; he is above average but doesn’t exactly explode off the jump. What makes him promising is his length.

What most surprised me was Jordan Hills’ fluidity. His jumper has textbook form, elbow in line with both feet parallel on the jump, and he seems fairly deft in the post as we saw him, on one occasion shown above, gather himself in motion for the jump hook.

His wrist motion looked very fluid and natural on the hook shot. This isn’t really much to write home about by itself, but I wanted to point this out to contrast against former Houston Rockets Kelvin Cato and Joey Dorsey. Those two notorious stiffs looked almost mechanical on such shots, as if their wrists couldn’t properly bend for such a motion. I suppose that’s why such players are called ‘stiffs.’ But Hill, while still raw, is by no means a stiff.

We saw him roll to the basket in two strides for a left-handed finger-roll. I don’t think I even recall Carl Landry making an off-handed finger-roll, so this was very impressive.

Hill’s overall body control and fluidity surprised me because his body gives off the impression of a total lack of coordination. He’s almost a skeleton, seemingly susceptible to being blown away by the wind at any moment, so naturally I was expecting to see a skillset akin to that of the esteemed Mikki Moore.

One of the things that impressed me most was that he actually looked very comfortable initiating the pick and roll from the high post, maneuvering off the dribble to hand the ball off to teammates. Contrast this against Joey Dorsey who looked completely out of his element when so far away from the basket. With Hill’s ability to shoot, and apparent ability to roll to the basket, in combination with his comfort in making decisions up top, I really think he can be valuable when used in pick and roll situations with the guards.

Finally, the above clips are likely of interest but don’t really hold much analytical value. I suppose you could stretch things and conclude that he’s at least a decent finisher around the basket, but I think that assertion would be a bit premature.

We can’t really draw too many conclusions from this game, but the good news is that Jordan Hill’s ceiling is higher than being the reincarnation of Mikki Moore. He is coordinated, has greath length, and seems very comfortable up top – there is definitely promise in this package, but I don’t want to get too carried away off of one game. We are now aware of his skillset – the question is refinement and sustainability.

I am hoping the former lottery pick continues to receive extended minutes because at this point, player development is really all that is left that can be gleaned from these last few games.

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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bk10
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bk10

Nice summary, Rahat. I think Jordan will end up being a very nice player. Of all the clips you showed here, only the left handed layup surprised me a little…I don't remember seeing that in his limited Knick playing time. All the other things (running hard, activity around the boards, facility with the pick and roll etc) have been part of his gradual emergence the last couple of months before the trade. One thing the Rockets are probably working with him on is being stronger on finishing at the rim in traffic, and economizing his motion a little. As you've… Read more »

Alituro
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Alituro

Hill can definitely be an asset worth holding on to especially if we don't pick up the premier PF we have eyes on in the offseason, or if we end up having to squander Scola to get one. Speaking of Scola, I know this is off-topic, but I've seen him really come around as of late putting up incredible numbers through the last 3 games at least. I'm wondering if that is a direct result of having his reliable back up gone. Is it a result of elevated minutes or pressure, or a decrease of pressure now with more job… Read more »

rahat_huq
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rahat_huq

bk10 – did you see any post moves in his time with the knicks aside from the one used in the clip i included?

alituro – i will be looking into scola more closely in the coming days. as for hill, i think any deal for a premiere power forward would undoubtedly require him in the deal.

bk10
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bk10

Rahat, Hill did show some post moves with the Knicks (in fact, one of this breakout games was against the same Pistons), but from what I saw, he relied on his quickness to spin toward the basket with his defender at his back. He wasn't particularly accomplished at playing to contact or assessing his defender before making a move, so any sort of double team or crowd in the lane usually meant a turnover. Early on, he was too fond of spinning in one direction or the other even when it didn't accomplish anything, which are tendencies that I expect… Read more »

Christopher
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Christopher

Rahat, good analysis, as usual. Many fans can get carried away with one big game–glad to see you maintain your objectivity! Also, the video clips are fine addition to the site–especially for an out of market fan like me away from his League Pass. I'm beginning to see why Hill was a lottery pick–his fluidity in the above clip surprised me. If his play last night was any indication, I wouldn't mind at all if the Rockets in up hanging on to him. In this limited action, he looks more fluid to me than KU's lottery-bound Cole Aldrich. I liked… Read more »

Verbs and Nouns
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Verbs and Nouns

rahat, could you touch upon the notion that the ROX; after moreys comments; may go after a big name in the off-season, most obvious of the names seems to be bosh since he's from texas. my opinion is that in scola and hill we have a perfect balance to compliment yao. luis is solid as a rock, consistent. hill is the x-factor. the young kid who can jump through the roof and is showing flashes of growing into his body and becoming a good player in the league, all on the cheap mind you. if bosh came to town, that… Read more »

rahat_huq
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rahat_huq

christopher – we have to remember that stromile also showed flashes at some points too.

verbs – i think that even with yao, this team is still a major piece away from serious contention, and power forward would be the logical choice. i wil be touching on scola in the next few days.

Christopher
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Christopher

Rahat: I meant attitude-wise–Swift's ability had fooled me into thinking he was a good signing back in the day. Swift did too much showboating for my liking.

rahat_huq
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rahat_huq

ah yes, they seem to be polar opposites in that respect

echu888
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echu888

Thanks for the summary. Some of my thoughts:1) The front office probably saw the opportunity at hand. Firstly, in all probability, we're not making the playoffs. Secondly, Andersen happened to get hurt. Thirdly, nothing helps with development like getting in some good ole' fashion PT. I'm thinking that the front office sees that this last stretch of the season is great for feeling out and getting some tape on one of your young prospects, and whether or not he might fit into your system for the next year. That could have impact on how draft decisions play out as well… Read more »

echu888
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echu888

I was thinking about this too — my guess so far is that Martin's arrival created a sweet spot in terms of spacing and offensive balance for Scola. The attention that the defense must give to Brooks, Martin, and Battier means Scola is free to spin and shake down low. I haven't theorized on why his rebounding numbers are so high though…

Stephen
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Stephen

Re Hill,I liked that he made a couple of nice passes,showing he has decent court vision. Worrisome is he displayed some bad hands a few times,not cleanly securing rebounds. Hope that it was nerves,excitement and not the dreaded bad hands. In the bigger picture,Ariza,Budinger,Martin signed for next 4 yrs. Yao and Lowry likely to be signed for comparable length. That's the core team building around. Starting SG,SF,C,Sixth man,back-up PG/spot starter who will get many minutes as an off-guard. combining for some $40mil.Figure a bench w/2 rotation bigs(prob one on rookie deal,other modest salary),a wing rotation guy and some roster fill… Read more »

rahat_huq
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rahat_huq

interesting that you bring up his hands because that was one of the biggest knocks on him, from what i gathered

bob schmidt
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bob schmidt

Seems like every time an asset is identified, it's time to calculate the player's worth in a trade. If we're going to identify who might be traded to improve the team, next year Battier gets 7.3 million, Jeffries gets 6.8 mil, Ariza gets 6.3 mil, and Armstrong gets 3.8 mil. If I'm looking to trade and improve the team, these guys are going to be shopped. We shouldn't be so ready to let young talent slip away when we have players who have little or no upside from this point. Obviously, we can't keep everyone if we add another good… Read more »

Alituro
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Alituro

I'd have to agree with you here Bob. Right now, we are stacked in the wings, have 2 great point guards, one who is a scorer and one who just flat-out hustles all around. The one place where there is something missing is in the post. If we do anything to acquire a big man the likes of Bosh or Stoudamire, then we will move to serious contention. We all know how volatile Yao is injury-wise, but if someone of those guys' ilk is able to play both post positions well, then we will be better able to preserve Yao… Read more »

Stephen
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Stephen

The Rockets have 5 Firsts over next 4 yrs. Trading away 2 or 3 of them is hardly going to cripple the franchise. Not when Les has finally been convinced that buying draft picks saves him money in long run.(And let's not forget the team was willing to give up 2 Firsts for Ron.) I don't mean to be snide,but have you watched the Rockets? Name a game where Aaron struggled w/his shot and the team's offense ran well. The team is missing Lowry in large part because he made plays for his teammates. If you have any of the… Read more »

Alituro
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Alituro

I agree Brooks has his shortcomings (no pun intended) but what he lacks, Lowry, when he's healthy is able to make up for it. With the right supporting cast and better post presence, I would tend to think Lowry should start with Brooks coming off the bench when a scoring punch is needed or when we go small. Right now we have one of the top PG tandems in the league with those two admittedly behind Paul and Collison. Not saying I wouldn't be excited about a pick up like Paul or Rubio, I just think the center, and now… Read more »

TC
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TC

Nice, honest analysis.

I watched Hill three years at the U of A go from a guy who could barely hold a basketball his freshman year, the least touted member of his class, to a lottery pick after his junior year. He's a guy who can develop quickly, but will need some games where he can learn the ropes. I have a feeling he'll be a solid player and I would love to see him and Chase playing and winning together in Houston.

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[…] Original post: Jordan Hill's Big Night | Red94 | essays and musings on the nba … […]

Stephen
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Stephen

As so often it boils down to Yao. If he stays healthy thru the yr and the Playoffs,and plays like a healthy Yao,I'd rather have an upgrade over Brooks and settle for okay PFs.W/no Yao,having that stud PF who can play C would sure be nice. I tend to agree Lowry should be starting as I feel his skills certainly fit better w/Ariza and Martin and he seems to feed bigs better. Brooks looks like he would fit the Bobby Jackson role perfectly-except for hi defense.(And if the second unit is Brooks,Bud,Battier,Hill and Hayes,that's most of this yr's starting unit… Read more »

Allen
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Allen

I have to disagree with a few things in this analysis. First Jordan Hill does not look like a skeleton. 2nd while I agree Hill is not an explosive leaper like Amare as far as vertical, he does get off the ground quickly.

Alituro
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Alituro

yup, we've strayed way off subject, and I agree it boils down to Yao that's why I believe if we get a big name PF who could swing to C occasionally, we can keep Yao's minutes under 30 per game which would be key. I think his proneness for injury is basically due to utter exhaustion during grueling series, back-to-backs, etc. Glad to have Lowry back, he stepped in and made a huge difference last night, drawing fouls, superb passing, getting others involved when the starters grow stagnant. Hope he's OK with that ankle. I think Hill will end up… Read more »

Kade
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Kade

As I've posted a number of times the Rockets can't expect Yao to suddenly become a healthy player and must account for that. Morey must automatically assume that Yao will not be able to stay injury free, if he does then that's a major bonus, but plan accordingly as if he will miss extended time next year.

durvasa
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durvasa

I agree with you. Jordan looks to have a very good NBA body, and he appears to be well above average at rebounding and dunking in traffic. He needs to learn all he can from Chuck on the art of post defense, work with the Rockets excellent trainers on his post moves, master that midrange jumper at the top of the key (which already looks to be quite smooth), and we'll have a heck of a player on our hands.

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[…] James Johnson has caught a lot of grief for not producing right away. But hey, sometimes it just takes time. Speaking of, sounds like Jordan Hill may be in the process of shaking off his own bust label down in Houston. (Red 94) […]

Alituro
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Alituro

yup, we've strayed way off subject, and I agree it boils down to Yao that's why I believe if we get a big name PF who could swing to C occasionally, we can keep Yao's minutes under 30 per game which would be key. I think his proneness for injury is basically due to utter exhaustion during grueling series, back-to-backs, etc. Glad to have Lowry back, he stepped in and made a huge difference last night, drawing fouls, superb passing, getting others involved when the starters grow stagnant. Hope he's OK with that ankle. I think Hill will end up… Read more »

Kade
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Kade

As I've posted a number of times the Rockets can't expect Yao to suddenly become a healthy player and must account for that. Morey must automatically assume that Yao will not be able to stay injury free, if he does then that's a major bonus, but plan accordingly as if he will miss extended time next year.

durvasa
Guest
durvasa

I agree with you. Jordan looks to have a very good NBA body, and he appears to be well above average at rebounding and dunking in traffic. He needs to learn all he can from Chuck on the art of post defense, work with the Rockets excellent trainers on his post moves, master that midrange jumper at the top of the key (which already looks to be quite smooth), and we'll have a heck of a player on our hands.

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[…] the Houston Rockets.  If such production is the norm, and at a still relatively cheap price, with the emergence of Jordan Hill, would the Rockets not best be served by simply bringing back Scola to anchor the […]

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[…] of Andersen since his signing, even despite his struggles, but it’s common knowledge that Jordan Hill has the far greater upside and potential to impact this team.  I worry that Hill’s minutes will be reduced – it […]

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[…] the floor and filling the lanes.  I love Trevor in his new role.  Like I said before, aside from Jordan Hills’ emergence (and the fact that our backcourt is pretty much unguardable), the metamorphosis of Trevor Ariza has […]

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