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Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday…Grant Hill

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fore injuries took it’s toll, Grant Hill was mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen as the greatest players in the league at their time. Oh he was that good.

Touted as one of the best players in Duke history, many went as far as to say that he was one of the greatest collegiate basketball players in NCAA history.After his first six seasons with the Pistons, in which he averaged 21.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 6.3 assists, his next twelve seasons were mostly injury plagued, as he averaged just 13.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game.

Grant Hill was drafted by the Detroit Pistons with the third pick in the NBA draft after graduating from Duke in 1994. In his first season, he averaged 19.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.77 steals per game, and became the first Pistons rookie since Isiah Thomas in 1981–82 to score 1000 points. Hill ended up sharing NBA Rookie of the Year Award honors with Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks, becoming the first Piston since Dave Bing in 1966–67 to win the award. Hill also won the Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award. He was named to the all-NBA First Team in 1997, and all-NBA Second Teams in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000. Hill also regularly played in the NBA All-Star Game, where he made history by being the first rookie to lead an NBA All-Star fan balloting in (1994–95) with 1,289,585 votes, narrowly defeating Shaquille O’Neal. In addition, he became the first rookie in any of the four major professional sports leagues to lead all-star fan voting.

In his second season (1995–96), he once again led the All-Star fan balloting, this time edging Michael Jordan (Jordan’s first All-Star game after returning since retiring in 1993). During the 1995–96 season, Hill showcased his all-round abilities by leading the NBA in triple-doubles (10). He also won a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta as a member of the U.S. men’s basketball team, where he had the team’s fifth highest scoring average (9.7) and led the team in steals (18). In 1996–97 season, Hill averaged 21.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He became the first player since Larry Bird in 1989–90 to average 20 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists in a season, an accomplishment that has not been duplicated since. Once again, Hill led the league in triple-doubles, where his 13 triple-doubles represented 35 percent of the league’s triple-double total that season. He was the league’s Player of the Month for January and was also awarded NBA’s IBM Award, given to the player with the biggest statistical contributions to his team. He finished third in MVP voting, behind Karl Malone and Michael Jordan.

Much like Scottie Pippen with the Bulls, Hill assumed the role of a “point forward” in Detroit, running the Pistons’ offense. As a result, between the 1995–96 and 1998–99 NBA seasons, Hill was the league leader in assists per game among non-guards all four seasons. In the lockout-shortened 1999 season, as he led his team in points, rebounds and assists for the third time, Hill joined Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor as the only players in NBA history to lead their teams in scoring, rebounding and assists more than once. Hill and Chamberlain are the only two players in league history to lead their teams in points, rebounds and assists per game three times. Hill was selected to play in the 1998 FIBA World Championship, but in the end no NBA players played in this tournament due to the lockout.

After the first six seasons of his career, before his ankle injury, Hill had a total of 9,393 points, 3,417 rebounds and 2,720 assists. Oscar Robertson, Bird, and LeBron James are the only three players in league history to eclipse these numbers after their first six seasons.

On June 24, 2015, a deal was approved by the NBA Board of Governors to sell the Atlanta Hawks franchise to a group led by Tony Ressler, which included Hill, for $850 million.

Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday spotlights…Grant Hill.

 

 

 

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