Kids across the state of Minnesota are growing up hoping to become the next Andrew Wiggins or Karl-Anthony Towns. They see Wiggins hammer a huge dunk, or Towns scream in celebration after a clutch basket and the foul, and they imagine themselves doing something similar. When kids watch sports, they want to be like their heroes.
When I watched the 2016-17 Timberwolves, I wanted to be Jordan Hill.
Hill made $4 Million this season while logging a grand total of 47 minutes of playing time. He was not injured and he was not disgruntled. On the contrary, he was the most relaxed, chilled-out looking dude you’ve ever seen on an NBA sideline. On a roster filled with early 20-somethings trying to prove themselves for more playing time (and ultimately, more money) Hill was happily past those days. He was getting paid without even a modicum of pressure to perform. He just had to show up. Being paid millions of dollars to sit courtside at 82 NBA games seems like a pretty amazing gig.
As Jalen Rose would say, he was a “keep gettin’ dem checks” guy.
When you’re a kid with your whole life ahead of you, you want to be MJ or LeBron.
When you’re in your mid-30s working a real job so you can pay the bills, you want to be 2016-17 Jordan Hill.
More seriously: Hill’s season-long “DNP-CD” was a little bit surprising; at least before it became clear how Thibs was going to approach the season. One of the reasons that the Wolves were predicted to contend for a playoff spot was the veteran depth they added, and Hill (along with Brandon Rush and Cole Aldrich) was part of that depth. On a half-decent Indiana Pacers team in 2015-16, he played over 1,500 minutes in 73 games and posted above-average advanced stats. Not yet 30 years old, he didn’t seem completely cooked as an NBA rotation player.
For whatever reason — and given that nearly every one of those 47 minutes came in mop-up duty, it seems unfair to even bring up his poor stats — Hill never once joined the Wolves playing rotation.
The Wolves have a team option on Hill for next season. Despite his total lack of playing time this season, it would not completely surprise me if they exercise his option and keep him for another year. I say this for two main reasons:
- It’s only $4 Million, which is very cheap in this NBA economy for a veteran roster spot. Keeping Hill helps fill out the roster without spending too much on the end of the bench.
- Hill’s indifference to playing time is good for team chemistry. Unlike Adreian Payne, Shabazz Muhammad, and other ambitious young Wolves who were eager to play and prove themselves, Hill didn’t give a single shit about all of the DNP’s he racked up. He even looked like a good veteran presence on the end of the bench, happy to counsel an agitated Payne or Kris Dunn, when it seemed necessary. Hill was a calming influence on a team filled with youthful energy and a spastic head coach.
There isn’t much else to say about Jordan Hill’s 2016-17 season. He barely played. He was relaxed. He may or may not be back next year.