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George Hill always seems to have something to say. After a game, you can find Hill cracking jokes with Joe Ingles, or walking Rudy Gobert through a missed opportunity for a lob, or in quiet conversation with veteran Joe Johnson.

The point guard has in short order become the vocal leader of a young locker room. It's his direction on the court, however, the Utah Jazz had sorely missed in his absence.

"That's what leadership does," coach Quin Snyder said. "It just elevates everybody's play because the person that provides it is usually conscious of the things that his teammates need to do in order to improve their play."

And, for Hill, knowing how to do that is no accident.

Not long after Hill learned he had been traded to Utah last summer, he reached out to one of his new co-workers. Like Hill, Jazz forward Gordon Hayward grew up in the Indianapolis area and spent his some of his offseason working out there each summer. Hill asked Hayward who trained him and then went to that gym himself — not just to improve his own game, but to get a crash course on Hayward's from men who knew has game as well as anyone.

"He wanted to go into the season knowing as much as he could," Jason Smeathers, a trainer at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis, recalled.

So last summer, he had his trainers help him break down Hayward's game, drilling Hill on corner 3-pointers knowing that Hayward liked to kick the ball out there at the end of the shot clock. They worked to adapt his pick-and-roll techniques to help get Gobert involved in the offense. They looked for ways to help Hill get shooting guard Rodney Hood more open looks.

"I think anytime you can look at what we do and figure out how you can fit in and put in the time and effort, I think it's going to pay off for sure," Hayward said. "I'm happy that he went to those guys. He's been tremendous this year."

So far, there haven't been any issues with Hill and Hayward's chemistry. Their only problem is they haven't been able to show it off as much as they'd like.

When Hill and Hayward have been on the floor together this season, that's exactly what the Jazz have done. Utah has won back-to-back games since Hill's return from a sprained thumb, improving to 3-0 in the few times their two top scorers have been healthy enough to suit up together.

"It impacts everything," said Snyder, whose team is 6-8 in games either Hill or Hayward has missed due to injury. "They play off each other. … Sometimes when you see somebody that's playing that way, that just reminds you of how you want to be and how you have to play when you want to win. I think those two guys complement each other well."

Hill has been brilliant for the Jazz, averaging 20.9 points and 4.2 assists per game in Snyder's system. The Jazz, meanwhile, are 23 points better than their opponents per 100 possessions with Hill and Hayward together in the lineup, according to the NBA's statistics.

That hasn't surprised Hill's trainers.

In Indiana last season, Hill had the ball in his hands about 16 percent of the time he was on the court, per the NBA's data. That's about as much as center Ian Mahinmi handled the ball for the Pacers last year. In Utah, however, Hill has had the ball in his hands about 25 percent of the time.

"He didn't have the opportunity to run the show like he does now," St. Vincent trainer Rob Blackwell said. "Because when he does, this is what this guy does."

Snyder knew what Hill was capable of when the Jazz acquired him.

The coach laughs thinking back to Hill's struggles running the pick and roll out of college, when Snyder helped coach the Spurs' summer league team. After the trade, Snyder made sure Hill knew how well he would fit in Utah's offense.

"He and I know each other pretty well," Snyder said. "So some of the conversations that we had, I'd like to think, framed my view of what the fit would be and I think that was something he was truly excited about."

But that's not what keeps Hill motivated.

"It's not about myself. It's not about who I am. It's not about my stats," he said. "It's about whatever the team needs and whatever we've got to do to win a game. That's the most important thing."

That's the kind of leadership the Jazz have benefited from greatly so far this season, and it's the kind of leadership that could help Hill fulfill his goal for the year.

"The first day he came in, he said, 'I've got to get G to the playoffs,' " Smeathers recalled. "For him it's about winning, winning, winning." Twitter: @aaronfalk —

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