Milwaukee Bucks: The unspoken hero driving an NBA powerhouse

NBA Milwaukee Bucks George Hill (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
NBA Milwaukee Bucks George Hill (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

With the Milwaukee Bucks stamping their championship contender status, there is one unspoken hero driving their early-season success

In possibly the most anticipated game of the NBA season so far that was played on Thursday night, the two teams on top of the NBA standings went toe-to-toe to decide who would sit alone with the best record across the league.

The Milwaukee Bucks prevailed 111-104 over the Los Angeles Lakers to improve to 25-4 on the season, now a game clear of the second-place Lakers who slipped to 24-5 with the loss. Although the scoreboard finished rather close, the game felt like the Bucks were in control for most of the night with the Lakers never really getting close enough to trouble the Bucks towards the end.

There were storylines aplenty to come from the hotly contested game, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo showing off his improved jump shot, the Greek Freak vs. The King and the poor shooting from the Lakers with the Bucks exposing some flaws in the Lakers team.

But for me, the biggest storyline to come from the game was the need for depth and a reliable second unit coming from the bench.

The Bucks bench players were able to put up 34 points as a group whilst shooting nearly 50 percent from both 3-point range and the field in general. The fact that accentuated the importance of bench players was the horrible play from the Lakers bench. Their entire bench unit only attempted nine shots in total and contributed a grand total of four points for the whole night, meaning they were outscored 34-4 by Milwaukee’s bench players.

From Milwaukee’s impressive bench unit, however, there is one player in particular that stands out above the rest and is a major reason why the Bucks are on top of the league.

That player is NBA Veteran and Journeyman, George Hill.

After being traded to Milwaukee from Cleveland around halfway through the 2018-19 season, Hill had to transform his game from a usual starter to a permanent rotation player off the bench in Milwaukee. Since the 2012-13 season when Hill became a regular starter, he would start in 383 out of his next 398 games whilst playing for five different teams.

In his first 74 games with Milwaukee, he has not started in a single game.

But the Veteran has relished his role coming off the bench, providing lots of experience and a level head amongst the Bucks’ youthful players such as Pat Connaughton, Donte DiVincenzo, and Sterling Brown.

The most impressive fact of Hill’s play is that he currently ranks 2nd in the entire NBA league for 3-point shooting, converting a career-high 51.2 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. Having this reliable and consistent threat from deep is extremely important for the Bucks, particularly when Giannis is on the court as he drives down the lane and attracts multiple defenders in the paint, having Hill to be able to dish the ball out to allows for great scoring opportunities and a magnificent one-two combination.

Hill has always been a consistent shooter having never shot below 40 percent from the field in his entire career. However, he is also taking this statistic to new heights in the 2019-20 season, converting 53.7 percent of his attempts from the field and a very reliable 85.4 percent from the free-throw line.

Hill’s 10 points-per-game average ranks 4th on the Bucks roster, averaging more points than starters Brook Lopez and Wes Matthews whilst leading the bench unit comfortably. The guard is a big part of the reason why the Bucks are the highest-scoring team in the league and are yet to score less than 100 points in any game this year.

Hill has managed to score over 10 points in 11 games already so far this season, impressively scoring over 15 points in four games and two very impressive games where he contributed over 20 points off the bench.

The highlights of Hill’s season have been both his games against the teams from Los Angeles. Against the Lakers on Thursday night, the Veteran converted 7-12 from the field and 3-5 from 3-point range which led to his 21-point contribution in the most anticipated game of the year. These numbers were even impressive when considering that the entire Lakers bench only managed four points, showing why Hill is so important to the Milwaukee team.

His other outstanding game was against the Clippers at the Staples Centre earlier in the season. With some of the Bucks starters struggling from the floor, Hill went 9-14 from the field and an unreal 6-7 from 3-point land, contributing his season-high 24-points to the Bucks in a close five-point win. These highlight games show that Hill is extremely reliable, particularly in big games against some of the best teams in the league.

Of course, when looking at Milwaukee, it would be easy to argue that they are driven by Giannis and supported by decent role-players such as Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe and to an extent, this is true because they have such a well-balanced team with a host of solid contributors.

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But if it was not for George Hill, Milwaukee may not be in the same position they are today. The veteran has been a revelation for the Bucks and continues to be a dominant force coming off the bench, proving to opposition defenses why he must be guarded under any circumstances.