Jordan Hill: Much More Than Another Long-Term Project

Photo courtesy of Bill Baptist/Getty Images

Jordan Hill is not a project. Don't care what Mike D'Antoni didn't see in him in New York. This is a guy who needs to see minutes right now.

Hill may be in his developmental stages, sure, but when I think about projects, I think DeAndre Jordan, the prototypical seven-footer with the athleticism of a small forward and the basketball skill set of a high school benchwarmer. As someone who has witnessed DeAndre play since his high school days (I was on the Episcopal High School freshman team when 'Dre was a junior on varsity), I can tell you right now that our Jordan is the better of the two. Dare we forget that this dude was a lottery pick?

Some athletes aren't basketball-coordinated. Their technical footwork is shabby and awkward, they have no touch on their shots, any move they make looks panicked and rushed, etc. The list goes on. It is the textbook definition of Hasheem Thabeet, a project who has proven to be so raw that the Grizzlies were said to have been forced to coach him "as if he were an eighth-grader."

When you look at Jordan Hill, you instantly notice how basketball-coordinated he has become in only six years of experience. And you probably didn't expect that from him. His footwork is very precise and fluid on his hook shot, which appears to be the only post move currently in his arsenal. He can catch and shoot comfortably, and can finish with authority at the rim. Each of these strengths is incredibly encouraging, because it is much more difficult to teach coordination than it is to refine it. 

What is the difference between the two, exactly? In the spirit of comparison, Hill is a college student who must to take certain classes to earn his degree, but already has the necessary credits to enroll in the classes. Simply put, he must refine his knowledge. Thabeet doesn't have the those credits, and thus, he is forced to spend a semester at community college in order to gain the knowledge necessary to attempt to earn his degree again. Easy enough?

Hill has all the ability in the world to become a solid third option. He doesn't need to be taught how to play basketball - he needs to learn how to take what he is good at and make it better. Carl Landry was the same way. He had a decent 15-foot jumper, and he made it better. He had good footwork and soft touch, and turned it into an effective jump hook. Jordan's development, much like Carl's, will revolve around improving the efficiency of his current strengths. The scary part is that Jordan has learned so much so quickly - he may have much more upside than anyone thinks. Then again, it's impossible to tell sometimes. Amobi Okoye, FTW.

We haven't seen too much of Jordan yet, especially against formidable competition. But the early signs are encouraging, and much more so than we could have originally predicted. Make no mistake: Jordan Hill should be treated more like a capable rookie, in the Chase Budinger light, than a long-term project.

And, please, stop with the Mikki Moore comparisons. They have the same hair. And that's it.

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