After a breakout sophomore season, many were expecting Lawrence Hill to pick up right where he left off as a junior. Things didnt quite work out that way, as Hills numbers went down across the board in both production and efficiency. With the Lopez twins coming into their own last season, Hills role took a large turn from what it was the season prior. In 06-07, he rarely saw his minutes dip below 28 per game, but in 07-08, the varied wildly from the teens to the low 30s, with his place in the starting lineup also changing from night to night.
In analyzing the numbers provided by Synergy Sports Technology, the distribution of how Hill got his scoring attempts barely changed from his sophomore to junior season. However, his efficiency in jump shooting and post scoring both fell off significantly, which is why his FG% dropped from 51% to 41%.Hill netted 1.25 points per possession off jump shots as a sophomore, but fell to 0.96 as a junior. Likewise, he netted 1.04 PPP in the post as a sophomore, but just 0.40 PPP as a junior.
Watching extensive tape of his jumper from the two seasons, there really isnt much noticeable change in his mechanics or execution. He has a great natural touch, but hes always had somewhat of a loose form, taking a fair share of off-balance and fade-away shots, and not always bringing the ball up from the same place. That said, he has a quick and high release with a pretty consistent release point. In all likelihood, Hills shot isnt as good as it appeared to be in his sophomore year, and isnt as bad as it appeared to be in his junior year.
In the post, Hill just appeared to be really out of his element this season, not establishing good position, not selling his moves well, not looking very decisive, and often ending up taking a shot that didnt like much more than the ball being thrown in the general direction of the basket. He also didnt do as good of a job taking advantage of mismatches this season, taking smaller players to the post much less frequently. On the contrary, Hill does do a good job on the offensive boards, though, showing good timing and mobility, often streaking in from the wing to pull down a board from out of position.
One area where Hill did show progress is with his dribble-drive game, as he looked a bit more comfortable putting the ball on the floor this year, occasionally mixing in crossovers and spin moves, and showing flashes of taking his man both left and right. With his long strides and decent quickness for his size, Hill is becoming a much more formidable threat in this aspect of his game, though his handle is far from a finished product, still looking high and sloppy at times, while his ability to change directions with the ball still isnt perfected. At the rim, Hill isnt the most creative player, but has good touch and can go to lay-ups, floaters, and runners to get the job done, or even the occasional dunk, though he doesnt have the body to power up over players very much.
On the defensive end, Hill is very much a tweener at this stage, not having the body to really challenge opponents in the post, and really lacking the lateral foot speed on the perimeter, getting beat frequently. Despite his length, he usually isnt even able to recover in these situations, and his perimeter defense is a major concern in his efforts to convert to the small forward position.
With the Lopez twins gone this season, Hill will have a chance to reclaim his starring role for the Cardinal, and should once again have consistent minutes and touches in the rotation. This season he should look to return his shooting efficiency to what it was as a sophomore, and continue to improve on his dribble-drive game, which will be important for him to make it at the next level. He is someone who could come into second round discussions come draft time, and will be someone scouts and executives will look to see at the pre-draft camps.