Grant Hill Is Playing Like An NBA All-Star: Numbers Don't Lie

Grant Hill, at 38 years of age, is playing All-Star level basketball. He's giving the Phoenix Suns everything he has on a nightly basis and then coming back the next night and doing it again. Put aside the medical miracles that even allow him to play after serious injuries and block out of your mind the dedication he has for the game that prepares him to take the floor each night. Ignore the smile and charm and the legend that's only grown since the Duke star entered the league and won Rookie of the Year in 1994.

If Grant Hill is going to get into the 2011 NBA All-Star game, he wouldn't want to do it on sympathy or nostalgia. Grant Hill is the kind of guy who would only tolerate being named as an All-Star if his play on the court earned it. And so far this season, it has.

In the Western Conference, there are five small forwards with an APER over 15 (a composite stat used at Hoopdata.com). We will use this as the cut-off line to begin the evaluation. This line also passes the eye test when you consider that the guys just below that line are Shawn Marion, Andrei Kirilenko and Caron Butler. Nice players, but not All-Star.

That leaves us with the following list of small forwards whom we consider qualified for All-Star consideration:

I think we can all agree that Kevin Durant is going to be in the All-Star game, as is Carmelo Anthony (although he very well could be in the Eastern Conference by then). That leaves Grant's competition as Gay and Jefferson. Let's look at how these three stack up in some key categories.

True Shooting Percentage

  1. Jefferson (65%)
  2. Hill (59.2%)
  3. Gay (56.6%)

Assist Rate

  1. Hill (14.1)
  2. Gay (10.8)
  3. Jefferson (10.03)
Rebound Rate
  1. Hill (9.5)
  2. Gay (8.9)
  3. Jefferson (7.2)
Points and minutes per game
  1. Gay (40 mpg, 21.2 ppg)
  2. Hill (30 mpg, 14.3 ppg)
  3. Jefferson (32 mpg, 14.3 ppg)
What we see here is that Hill is the only player of the three to lead more than one category. He's also the best defensive player of the group and subjectively means more to his team than the other players in terms of leadership.

Rudy Gay is a nice up-and-coming player, but he's getting big minutes on a bad team. Richard Jefferson is a big part of why the Spurs are off to such a nice start, but he impacts the game in fewer ways than Grant Hill. You don't see Jefferson being given the defensive assignment on the opponent's top perimeter scorer, which Grant draws nightly.

It's a long way from the All-Star game and there's realistically little chance that Hill will get voted in over Durant, but if the reserve selections were being made right now, Hill would deserve to be in.

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