January 1, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Jordan Hill (27) reacts to a missed shot in the first half of the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Make or Break: Jordan Hill's future is on the line

The Lakers have garnered a bit of a reputation in recent years of revitalizing the careers of would-be busts. Shannon Brown, Earl Clark, and Trevor Ariza are all recent examples of this trend. When the Lakers brought Jordan Hill to the team in exchange for long-beloved Derek Fisher at the trade deadline in 2012, it was met with dismay simply for the fact of who was departing. At the time, Hill was an 8th overall pick who would be joining his third team in three years, had never averaged more 6.4 points with any team over any stint, and averaged just 14.7 minutes a game with the Rockets.

 

Still, Hill had a break out game just six games into his Laker career when he pulled down 15 boards and had 14 points in a double overtime victor against the Oklahoma City Thunder. So when the Lakers fought and won the services of Hill that summer for $4 million a year, many a fan was excited for what the future may hold. But much like the rest of the Lakers roster last year, injuries derailed his season. He played in just 29 games, and although he recovered quickly enough to make it back for the playoffs, he was a shell of himself. Now in a contract year, Hill future with the Lakers is rocky. While he’s shown signs of being a key role player, he’s also failed to stay on the court nor has he been a consistent performer.

Hill makes his living offensively under the basket, but not as a scorer. No, Hill’s offensive rebounding rate of 20.3% ranked him tops of anyone who played as many games as he (29). His scoring, more often than most, comes from those offensive rebounds and ensuing putbacks. However, Hill hasn’t been able to evolve the rest of his offensive game, resulting in a one-dimensional offensive game. However, since he is such a superb offensive rebounder, he’s able to continue to get significant minutes on the court. But given the current state of the Lakers of the frontcourt, Hill’s minutes will likely drastically increase. But Hill’s evolution is going to need to fast track in order to maintain those minutes.

 

A big man in Mike D’Antoni’s offense is typically known for his ability to get to the rim and finish. It was Amare Stoudemire’s biggest strength and one of David Lee’s array of post moves. It’s also what makes Lakers fans most excited for the possibility of Pau Gasol being the featured big man in said offense. But Hill is not Stoudemire, Lee, or Gasol. His skill set is not comparable to any of those, putting his place in D’Antoni’s offense into confusion. Hill spent the off-season looking to extend his range to 15-feet, hoping to knock down the mid-range jumpers with regularity. If he does, he’ll be a constant rotation player, maybe even a starter. But if he can’t develop a mid-range game, his role in a MDA offense could be non-existent. This isn’t the first time Hill and D’Antoni have been paired together. When Hill was drafted by the Knicks in 2009, D’Antoni was still the coach. However, their relationship ended when Hill was sent to Houston after playing just 24 games and averaging a little over 10 minutes an outing.

 

Hill is a player Lakers fans enjoy rooting for. He’s hard-nosed, gritty, and loves to battle down low. He brings energy off the bench and has a seemingly lovable personality that makes him easy to root for. However, Hill is going to be forced to evolve his skill set to fit with D’Antoni’s offense, or Lakers fans will be left with few opportunities to cheer for Hill.

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