You look up and down the Lakers roster for the upcoming season and you surprisingly see a lot of potent offensive fire power.
Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Steve Nash will headline the Lakers offensive attack. New addition Chris Kamen is another highly skilled offensive big man that can operate from the low post when filling in for Pau and compliment him when playing together.
With the acquisition of some young, vibrant talent in Nick Young, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Farmar, the Lakers finally have the foot speed to run up and down the floor with the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets.
The Lakers are quicker, younger, and more versatile on offense.
So who is going to fight for rebounds? Who is going to get on the floor for a loose ball?
Which player is going to lay someone out with a forearm to the chest ala Derek Fisher on Luis Scola?
None of the aforementioned players either have the personality to do the dirty work or are too fragile or important to the team’s success that you don’t want them on bottom of a scrum for a loose ball.
That is where a prototypical blue collar player like Jordan Hill would step right in. At least that is what you would think, but with a Mike D’Antoni coached team that emphasizes offensive fluidity more than defense and intangibles, Hill might be in for a fight to even crack the rotation.
It wouldn’t be the first time that D’Antoni passed on what Hill has to offer. In 2010 when D’Antoni coached the New York Knicks, despite drafting Hill with their 8th overall pick in the 2009 draft, the Knicks traded him to the Houston Rockets for the expiring contract of Tracy McGrady after just 24 games.
D’Antoni didn’t think that a New York Knicks team that ended up ranking 28th out of 30 in opposing points per game and with a 29-53 record could have at least given the hustling and defensive minded Jordan Hill a look.
Hill gets another shot at making an impression on D’Antoni. With Dwight Howard leaving to Houston, a starting spot and significant playing time is up for grabs; something Jordan Hill has yet to obtain in his NBA career.
Hill brings a relentless motor in an athletic 6’10 and 235 pound frame. While Hill has yet to develop into a good shot blocker in the NBA, with his 7 foot 1 inch wing span and propensity to remain on the move, he can cover a lot of ground in the paint which can potentially cause havoc for opponents.
Hill brings the defensive intensity and rebounding prowess that an aging Gasol can no longer bring and what Chris Kamen never brought in his career.
Jordan Hill has never averaged more than 16.2 minutes per game in his career, but when given the chance, he’s produced in short time. To get a good look as just how effective Hill has been we’ll look at his statistics on a per 36 minute basis:
2009-2010: 14.1 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.2 blocks per game
2010-2011: 13.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.7 blocks per game
2011-2012: 12.7 ppg, 12.2 rpg, 1.8 blocks per game
2012-2013: 15.0 ppg, 13.0 rpg, 1.5 blocks per game.
Hill’s 13 rebounds per 36 minutes average last season was higher than that of renowned rebounders like Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph and Tyson Chandler.
What will ultimately hurt Hill is not what he can do on the glass or defensive end, but what he can’t do offensively.
Hill doesn’t handle the ball well, cant hit an outside shot with any consistency, not an option in pick and pop plays.
Hill will never be confused for a stretch 4.
Those are all things that just don’t appeal to Mike D’Antoni. It is what got Hill shipped out of New York his rookie season and what might keep him behind guys like rookie Ryan Kelly, Chris Kamen and Shawne Williams in the rotation. I can even see Hill fall behind Wesley Johnson who could possibly line up at the 4 in a role similar to that of Shawn Marion during D’Antoni’s stint in Phoenix.
Great teams need players to do the grunt work and the Lakers have a player capable and willing to do that in Jordan Hill.
Hopefully, D’Antoni will put some value in that and take notice this time around.
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