Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Making A Mountain Out Of A Jordan Hill

Playing on the west coast offers some serious advantages to guys who aren’t great basketball players. Advantage the first? The weather. I live in Wisconsin, have all my life, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about moving West. I’ve had friends do it and they say it’s like living on a different planet; one that isn’t always either freezing or blazing. They have a temperature in the 70's from what I hear. As I write this, it's 58 degrees outside here in Wisconsin...on June 8. As nice as the weather can be in the West it’s not the biggest advantage to those who aren’t really all that good. No, that would be the anonymity of playing basketball while everyone else is asleep.

If you’re playing basketball and no one but other west coast people are watching you’ve just eliminated two thirds of the country. And we can remove half of the west coast too, you know, since it’s 75 and sunny all year there and everyone can just go to the beach. So pretty much the only people watching basketball players from places like Arizona are probably relatives, alumni and students of Arizona. Especially since Arizona has been sans Lute Olson and really any national interest for the past few years. And since no one is watching Arizona basketball anymore, everyone has to rely on words like “athletic,” “developing frame” and “length” to describe Jordan Hill. Scouts have all the tape they need I’m sure, but might get blinded by a few nice work outs and a 35-inch vertical leap.

Maybe I’d feel better if his games had been on television more last year. Or if he had played well on any of the occasions I was able to watch him. Or if he didn’t look like Mikki Moore’s younger brother. Actually I’d be perfectly fine with the Mikki Moore resemblance if Mikki Moore was a good basketball player. But he isn’t and it makes me worry.

I’ve worried enough about it that I decided to head over to Youtube and check out a video of Hill working at the famous ATTACK Athletics facility in Chicago. Surely this would be a terrific demonstration of his great athletic ability and make me feel good about the possibility of him slipping to the Bucks at ten or the Bucks making a move up to grab him. I did not feel better. What I saw was a moderately skilled big man who looks about as talented as anyone else. He isn’t sensational at anything and is a bit slight of mass to be planting himself down at the four every night.

Is it possible that enough scouts and websites saying he’s athletic and mobile have distorted the truth this bad? I don’t get it. Any time that I’ve seen Hill play I’ve never come away thinking, “wow that is a fluid basketball player.” It’s all disjointed movements and awkward looking post play. Aren't athleticism and smoothness something that should come through on a basketball court?

If he were Chris Bosh, I’d feel good about him. He does not appear to be Chris Bosh though. From what I’ve seen of Moore...ahh sorry...Hill, he looks more like Kwame Brown.

I don’t mean to be absurd or too dramatic when I say Kwame Brown. Brown has been an okay role player over the years. His hands aren’t dependable, actually his whole offensive game is unreliable, but he’s a big body and has filled out over the years. He can hold his ground, foul a guy and grab some rebounds as a backup big man. If he weren’t drafted at all, we’d be hailing him as a terrific journeyman center. Unfortunately for Kwame, he was the number one pick. MJ’s number one pick. So yeah, he’s been disappointing.

I don’t mean to imply that I think Hill has that similar a game to Brown or will end up being a back up center. I just don’t think this is the kind of guy who justifies a high selection and the scrutiny that comes with it. He’s had nobody watching him the last few years as he’s slowly developed into a serviceable college big man. I think he’ll be much better off in a place where he’ll be asked to come off the bench and be an energy guy. Someone who can run around and score on put backs and dunks around the rim. Milwaukee will be asking him to be a building block at the four spot from the get go.

I guess if he ends up in Milwaukee one thing will certainly be the same for him.

No one will be watching.

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