Solomon Hill Was the Best Signing of the Offseason

Pelicans Solomon

 

I’m not convinced Harrison Barnes is better than Solomon Hill.

Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but the two have quite a bit in common. Hill is a developing three-point threat. He’s still only hanging around the league average as a 33.8% catch-and-shoot player, but that’s not much worse than Barnes at 39.6% when you consider their team situations. Hill played for the stagnant Pacers, Barnes was a part of the beautiful Warriors machine. Put them on the same caliber of team and I don’t think there’s a marked difference.

Hill is a shade better on defense. Both are known for their ability to hold up against bigger power forwards in the post while switching onto small forwards and even guards when necessary. The numbers support Hill as the better player. He held opponents to a field goal percentage 2.6% lower than the average defender whereas opponent’s shot 2% better than usual against Barnes. Indiana’s defense was nearly identical when Hill played versus when he sat, but remember, the player he most often subbed in for was Paul George. Holding down the fort at George’s level is a major achievement.

Hill has even added a bit of a low-post game. He made almost 65% of his shots within three feet of the basket last season. Barnes wasn’t far behind at 62.5%, so it’s just another area where they’re comparable.

Look, Solomon Hill probably isn’t better than Harrison Barnes. But he’s going to make half as much to do the same job for New Orleans. In this offseason climate of everyone getting vastly overpaid, that’s a major win, and it helps settle down the Pelicans’ rotation and playing style going forward.

Few teams have even one big who can capably switch onto guards. But if Hill is at the 4, both he and Anthony Davis theoretically could. That opens up all sorts of defensive opportunities for the Pellies, especially since their point guard Jrue Holliday is huge at 6’4”. They’ll certainly play more like the Warriors, aggressively switching screens, but with Holliday’s size they might even have the freedom to switch 1-5 (as opposed to Golden State, who tends to go 2-4). It’s obviously not something to do on every possession, but that flexibility is key.

Their crunch time offense suddenly makes quite a bit more sense as well. Now it’s easy: Davis plays center, Hill the 4, and Holliday, Buddy Hield and Tyreke Evans make up the final three slots. The combination of shooting and ball-handling with those five is among the best any lineup in all of basketball could throw out, but the switching potential keeps their defense afloat.

Hill isn’t the guy who makes any of this go on his own, just as Barnes isn’t in Golden State, but lineups have five players and all five need to be effective in their own ways. Hill can be for New Orleans what Barnes is for Golden State, an effective role player who excels on both sides of the ball and has positional versatility. He can play small forward in the starting lineup (when Omer Asik presumably is at center) and then shift to power forward in crunch time. He can make shots on the block or the perimeter. He fills blanks for a team that could barely field an NBA team last year. Considering he’s doing in for only $12 million per year or so, that’s an excellent contract.

Why Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli Will Re-Sign With the Golden State Warriors

Barnes Festus 1

Yes, the Kevin Durant fantasies are still lingering. It’s fun to speculate, lord knows we do our fair share on this site. But the Warriors have to know it’s probably not happening.

With that in mind, they’re just going to keep the gang together. There’s really no reason not. They just won 73 games. Basketball teams literally have never been better than that. Why mess with that over a fantasy?

So Barnes will hit the market, sign an offer sheet, and the Warriors will match. Same goes for Festus. That’s 100% going to happen. At this point it’s just a matter of figuring out where those offer sheets are going to come from.

The big team to watch for with Barnes is the Lakers. Luke Walton is going to want to bring a Warrior or two with him to Los Angeles, and the Lakers have more than enough cap space to max Barnes out without denting their long-term flexibility. Minnesota might jump in the race as well, but the Lakers seem like the early favorite.

Festus is a much tougher nut to crack. He’s a great defender at his best, but he’s very rarely actually at his best. He’s had injury issues, but more than that he’s just inconsistent. His offense ranges from bad to unplayable and there’s not much rhyme or reason to those swings.

He’s young and has plenty of upside, but no reputable contender is going to look at him. It’s going to be a younger team with cash to burn and other options at center should Festus fail. Boston might sniff around. Minnesota could as well if Tom Thibodeau thinks Karl Anthony-Towns is a power forward (he isn’t, but still). Dallas is a fit if they want to start moving towards the post-Dirk era. Even Chicago is an option.

But there’s not a clear favorite here. In fact, the likeliest scenario is that Festus misses out on the early bonanza and some team comes to him as a plan B or C. They’d know that the Warriors would match, but hey, there’s no reason not to try and they could at least foist a bigger tax bill upon Golden State. In any case, both remain Warriors, just in a higher tax bracket.

Barnes Likely Contract: Four Years, Max

Ezeli Likely Contract: Four Years, $64 Million

Fake NBA Trade of the Day 5/8/16: Marc Gasol to Golden State

Marc Gasol Warriors PI

Every day, Pick and Popovich will post one fake trade and explain why it makes sense for every team involved to make it. There are no parameters beyond fitting within the salary cap. Sometimes the trades will involve stars, others role players. They are not grounded in actual rumors, they just make sense on paper. During the 2016 NBA Playoffs, each week will feature seven fake trades of one star player. This is Marc Gasol Week. 

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Memphis Grizzlies Receive:                                           Golden State Warriors Receive:

Harrison Barnes                                                                  Marc Gasol

Andrew Bogut

Kevin Looney

2018 1st Round Pick

 

Why Memphis would make this trade: Opinions on Harrison Barnes are fairly mixed, but even with the meatier contract this trade would net him, he has enough value as a shooter and defender combined with his youth to be the centerpiece of a Gasol trade. Looney and the pick are nice rebuilding pieces, and Bogut helps keep Memphis competitive in the interim to sell tickets.

 

Why Milwaukee would make this trade: Because oh my God if Draymond Green and Marc Gasol were on the same team the NBA might just end. The passing, the defense, screw Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, I just want to see that front court do beautiful things. This is every NBA nerd’s fantasy.