In 1996 Grant Hill was the best small forward in the league and was arguably more popular than Michael Jordan. In his first six seasons with Detroit, Grant Hill racked up almost 70 wins and was a top 25 player every season except his rookie year (where he shared rookie of the year honors with Jason Kidd). His final season he played on a broken ankle. While Grant Hill did get a long contract extension with Orlando, he was limited both in terms of production and minutes. Compared to the 17000 minutes and 70 wins he racked up in his first six seasons, Hill’s next six years he only played 6500 minutes and only amassed 20 wins.
In 2008 Grant Hill went to Phoenix and saw a reinsurance resurgence ((Editor’s note: Thanks Dave!)). While he wasn’t the same player he was in Detroit, he was very good. In his first three seasons he racked up over 7000 minutes and 22 wins and was paid just under $7 million for this. As a comparison, he was paid over $90 million for his time in Orlando! Because of his time in Phoenix, he also made it onto our all-time list of ironmen aged 35 years or older.
However, this production couldn’t last. 2011 saw Grant Hill play his first below average season with a WP48 of 0.092 (average is 0.099). Then in 2012 Grant Hill this drop to 0.047, or half as good as an average player. And this season Grant Hill’s WP48 is -0.096! This means Grant Hill is actually losing his team games when he goes out on the court!
Jeremy Britton even noticed that if we ignore productivity and just go by Yay! Points!! Grant Hill is still in free fall. Grant Hill sits at 3.2 points per game. This is the first time in his career he’s been below 10 points per game and as we notice, it’s by a huge margin.
Two of the biggest factors in player performance are age and health. Health can be hard to predict. As Grant Hill shows, injuries happen and how players rehabilitate from that injury can be difficult to predict. However, age is much less kind. Even greats like Shaq and Kareem have faltered. After a player hits thirty it’s not a question of if but a question of when they won’t be able to play any longer. Despite having a storied career with an amazing comeback, the sad truth is that Grant Hill may have hit that stage.
-Dave and Jeremy, words by Dre