George Hill, Gary Neal: Super subs

The San Antonio Spurs are currently first in the NBA with a record of 47-10 and are playing like an elite team. The obvious reason for that is due in large part to a healthy “Big Three.” However, another reason why the Spurs are playing their best basketball in years is their reserves.

This year, the Spurs have arguably the deepest bench in the league and has made a huge difference for the Spurs this season.

But with the stretch run underway, two young players could play vital roles in the Spurs’ playoff success this season — George Hill and rookie Gary Neal.

Let’s talk about George Hill first.

After a phenomenal sophomore year, the third year guard knows exactly what his role is and does it well, he is a reliable scorer off the bench and a capable defender. This season Hill has solid averages of 11 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 27.5 minutes of play.

One area of his game that has improved a lot is free throw shooting. This year Hill is making 87.3% of his foul shots compared to just 77.2% last season. With his ability to attack the lane and his long wingspan, he has the ability to draw fouls from opposing players that guard him. 

Another good thing about Hill is his versatility, he can play both guard positions and is the closest thing to a lock-down perimeter defender for the Spurs. This means he can fill the backup point guard spot or play along side Tony Parker. His consistent play on both ends of the floor have certainly helped the team win some games.

Even his appearance in the starting lineup against the Washington Wizards did not seem to bother him as he scored 18 points and three assists in his only start of the season and gave Ginobili’s aching body some rest.
If Hill can give Parker much needed rest in some games, and at the same time provide additional firepower and defensive tenacity off the bench, that will be huge for the Spurs.

What about Gary Neal? 

He provides excellent outside shooting and hustle on the floor. He might be a rookie but he is playing like a seasoned veteran, and never hesitates to take open shot. 

For the season, Neal is averaging 9 points and 2.4 rebounds while shooting 44% from the floor, including 41% from beyond the arc (best among rookies) in just 19.9 minutes per ball game.
Right now, Neal is proving to be a reliable shooter with toughness something they lacked the previous season. His ability to make the open shot and his willingness to take big shots when the game is on the line will come a long way when the post season arrives.

Simply put Neal is a model of a cold blooded shooter. He never hesitates to shoot and is right on target most of the time.

How good is he playing lately? Neal has scored in double figures in the last five games averaging 14.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists and has shot 60.9% from the field over that span, including 66.7% from beyond the arc. 

There is no doubt Hill and Neal has lend a big hand in the Spurs’ fantastic start this season. If they can continue with their steady plays towards the playoffs, the Spurs will definitely be a tough team to beat. The energy and hustle that these guys bring to the Spurs could go a long way.
Are you impressed with Hill and Neal’s performances so far? Do you agree that both players will play a vital role in the Spurs’ playoff run? Share us your thoughts.
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