29 years old
4 million dollar contract
Basic Stats (Per game played): 6.7 minutes, 1.7 points, and 2 rebounds.
The life of an NBA journeyman is full of ups and downs, with circuitous routes that can take players all across America as they find themselves being traded, signed, and generally filling gaps in NBA rosters without much volition or agency of their own. It is certainly not a glamorous job, especially for players who almost certainly were “the guy” during their high school and college career. To go from being the person who everyone wanted to be with, being the star that your team relied upon, to being shuffled around the league must certainly be an incredibly difficult transition.
Not to mention, that is the best case scenario. For a lot of players, even getting to the point where you are the NBA journeyman is an impossible task, as you are trying to break in and end up bouncing around international leagues or the D-League, maybe all in the hopes of making a team’s summer league roster and giving it all that you have just to make a team’s practice squad.
These types of arguments are often scorned with the easy response of “these guys get paid millions of dollars to play a sport, who cares about their emotions and thoughts, they are living the dream.” That certainly has some merit, but at a basic level, these are people who are trying so, so hard to reach a level that they have been dreaming about for years. Not to mention all of the external people throughout the players’ lives who have put incredible expectations on them to achieve these goals. It’s a lot of pressure.
That makes it all the more challenging to imagine what situations like the NBA summer league are really like. If you are trying to prove yourself, just to show you can belong, and you are playing with guys who are predestined stars, simply getting in reps before the season begins. That disconnect of future possibilities is astounding.
This digression aside, it’s important to remember just how many thousands of people have tried and failed to get to the place where players like Jordan Hill are. Even though they may be benchwarmers, hidden from view until called upon by injuries or blowouts. These guys have had to work extraordinarily hard to get there.
Jordan Hill played in 7 games, averaging 6.7 minutes per game played, with 47 total minutes all season. He scored 1.9 points per game, averaged 2 rebounds per game, and did not record an assist or block.
Hill was one of the few signings that Thibs made in the offseason, brought on most likely to shore up a Big rotation that was incredibly thin in the previous season. Hill was signed to a two-year, 8 million dollar contract, with the second year not guaranteed.
Hill truly only played in one game this year, against the Oklahoma City Thunder when the Wolves were getting demolished. He was suddenly brought into the game by Thibs and played 18 minutes, scoring four points, grabbing six rebounds, and picking up five fouls.
The Wolves, similar to many other times this past season, were getting outmatched on the interior, as they simply had no answer to a player like Enes Kanter who was able to bully-ball his way to easy baskets. Kanter and Steven Adams combined for 42 points in this game, shooting 17 of 22 between themselves. Hill was serviceable and ended up +7 in a game where the Wolves ended up losing by 12.
It’s hard to blame Hill too much for not reaching the court. In a season where Thibs barely altered his rotations throughout the season, if Cole Aldrich was having trouble in maintaining a consistent role, or even minutes, Hill was certainly never going to be able to find any sort of consistency as he was behind Aldrich on the totem pole.
As such, it certainly seems like a fallacy to read too much into Hill’s limited numbers, including his incredibly bad -12.9 BPM. Hill has usually never been much more than a rotation big off the bench, but he can likely still play solid minutes if called upon in a more clear role. Hill played in seven total games throughout the season, often spread months apart, without any injury keeping him off the court.
It is certainly possible the Wolves bring Hill back next season. At four million dollars, he is certainly not breaking the bank to be an end of rotation big that Thibs can potentially count upon if the Wolves are bereft with injuries next year. However, if the Wolves are going to be chasing big money free agents, moving on from Hill is an easy way to increase the available funds.
Throughout this season it has been hard to tell if the Wolves bench was simply bad or if they were bad because they were not receiving enough minutes/consistency to get into the “flow” of the game. Other than a few players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Nemanja Bjelica, the rest of the bench saw their roles wildly fluctuate throughout the year.
Is Jordan Hill some amazing rotation player that could have helped the Wolves win and end up closer to playoff contention? Probably not. Could he have helped more than his limited minutes? Probably. But such is the life of an NBA journeyman.