After a 1 and 2 start and woeful defensive effort by the Lakers, Mike D’Antoni is now considering an increased role for the defensive minded and rebounding specialist Jordan Hill who is currently averaging 14 minutes per game which ranks 11th on the team.
How many had the word Duh pop in their mind when they heard of this?
In limited minutes, Jordan Hill has been cleaning up the glass, averaging 6.3 rebounds per through 3 games. The most impressive stat is that 4 of those rebounds are coming from offensive end, ranking him 10th in the league despite limited minutes.
To get a real idea of Hill’s effectiveness on the court this season, projecting his production over 36 minutes, he’s averaging an eye popping 16.3 points, 16.3 rebounds and 10.3 offensive rebounds per game which would rank 1st in the league.
The Lakers can definitely use more of Hill’s defensive tenacity and relentlessness on the boards. Lakers are struggling mightily on the defensive end of the court, allowing opponents to shoot 47.5 percent from the field and giving up 106.3 points per game, ranking them 24th in the NBA in both categories.
The Lakers are 8th in the league in total rebounding, averaging 45.7 but that is a little misleading since they play at a faster pace than most teams and put up quite a few bricks which provides more rebounding opportunities. The better stat is rebounding rate where the Lakers are ranked 14th in the league at 50.3 percent; that is not horrible but considering the Lakers are going be a perimeter focused offense that relies on the 3 point shot, therefore, having their efficiency take a hit, they need to scoop up those bricks at a much higher rate.
Most of those bricks are their own and they’ve come in bunches. The Lakers are shooting a meager 40.5 percent from the field, ranking them 25th. As expected with D’Antoni jam packing the rotation with perimeter players, almost a third (30.5 percent) of the Lakers shots come from behind the arc, ranking them 3rd only behind Golden State and Miami. To the Lakers’ credit, they are knocking those long distance shots with regularity, shooting 40.5 percent from 3s which is good for 8th in the league.
In order for the Lakers to compete this season with an inefficient offense, which they will continue to be by being 3 point reliant, they’ll have to maximize their possessions.
D’Antoni opted to start the season with Shawne Williams at the 4 position who fills that stretch 4 type that D’Antoni covets; 3 games into season, we can say that his decision has failed miserably. Williams is shooting 20 percent from the field and from his supposed place of expertise behind the 3 point line, he’s shooting a horrid 17 percent. While Williams is only averaging a minute more than Hill at 15 minutes per game, it’s 15 wasted and ineffective minutes that could have gone to Jordan Hill whose time on the court is impactful.
I don’t even understand the initial decision to start Shawne Williams over Jordan Hill in the first place. Williams didn’t light the world on fire in the pre-season and hasn’t shown much in his first 5 years in the league prior to coming to the Lakers this season. Surely had Williams showed some potential of being more than a really tall marksman one of the 4 teams he’s played for would have kept him around.
Hill is not an uncoordinated and lumbering big man that would impede the free flowing, up and down game that D’Antoni wants to run. They can still run with Hill who runs the floor and finishes around the rim well.
While Hill might not space the floor in half court sets due to his lack of a perimeter shot, he has shown a few decent low post moves if the balls finds his way in the low block and can contribute a little bit of cheap baskets off misses.
The Lakers have a surplus of hot and cold guards that are interchangeable depending on where they are in their hot meter in any particular game: Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks, Steve Blake, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Farmar can either scorch the nets or lay a massive amount of bricks on any given night. Shawne Williams is just another player that adds to the viloatility of the Lakers’ offense.
Consistency from perimeter will continue to be nonexistent until they get back Kobe Bryant who, assuming he returns to the form he displayed last season, will be the Lakers offensive rock, giving them dependable scoring from the perimeter. Gasol will continue to be the dependable scorer from the inside, with Chris Kamen doing the same in spurts.
Jordan Hill could be the consistent performer on the glass and defensive end. You can also bank on Hill bringing you effort and toughness every night. Rebounding, defense, effort, toughness and consistency are all things that this Lakers team desperately needs.
The team this season is starting to take shape and D’Antoni is the person in charge of molding it. In the past, D’Antoni’s final product usually focuses on offense and defense is an afterthought. Shawne Williams in the starting line up over Hill is just more evidence of D’Antoni’s stubbornly ways. That fact that he is beginning to look in the direction of Jordan Hill with only 3 games into the season is promising that things are changing for the better.
A player that can’t shoot but hustles, rebounds and focuses on defense catching the eye of D’Antoni? That’s Otto Binder’s Bizarro type behavior! What type of topsy turvy Lakers’ season are we in for?
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