I feel so vindicated. Ever since Jordan Hill was traded to the Lakers, I feel like I have been clamoring for him to get more playing time. When traded to the Lakers for Derek Fisher and a pick, Hill didn’t really seem like he was going to be a part of the Lakers plans. Mike Brown refused to play Hill, the former 8th overall pick in the 2009 draft, opting for the likes of Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy (Hill had a 19.3 PER that season. McRoberts and Murphy had a 19.9 combined). Finally, in a game against Oklahoma City, Hill was placed into the game when Mike Brown was out of options. He proceeded to help the team storm back and secure an overtime victory. At that moment, I knew the Lakers had something.
Last season Hill was poised to have a big role on a Lakers team lacking bench talent. Unfortunately Hill suffered a serious hip injury and was limited to 29 games and briefly returned during the playoffs. The pairing with Mike D’Antoni never seemed ideal as well. The two had history back when Hill was with the team who drafted him, the New York Knicks who were then coached by D’Antoni. The two didn’t get along and Hill doesn’t fit into D’Antoni’s idea for a stretch power forward, but the talent Hill possessed is undeniable.
Throughout his career, only once has Hill not averaged a double-double per 36 minutes, and the season he didn’t (2010-11) he missed it by .2 rebounds. He always plays with energy, even if the rest of the team is uninterested. The only thing that held Hill back was his inability to get minutes in Mike D’Antoni’s small ball offense. When made a starter in the past two games, he has averaged 19.5 points and 13 rebounds with 2 blocks and 1.5 steals in 28 minutes. Finally! What everyone except Mike D’Antoni could see was that Hill is clearly one of the Lakers three best players right now and should be receiving the appropriate playing time.
While Hill might not keep up these astronomical numbers, I see him easily averaging a double-double. He competes hard on the boards every single night and doesn’t rely on plays being called for him to score. He also brings an energy on defense mixed with athletic ability that gives the Lakers some semblance of a defensive presence. In an earlier piece, I noted how important Jordan Hill’s defense would be to the Lakers success. Despite the loss to Denver, the team is working towards finding an identity.