From Garbage Man To Post Man, Jordan Hill Takes On A Bigger Role
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It was almost a sure bet that Jordan Hill would be gone after last season. Although Hill played in 72 games last year, he started just 32 of them and was under-utilized in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. Mike D’Antoni resigned, but the Lakers drafted forward Julius Randle with the seventh overall pick, which added to speculation that Hill was all but gone from Los Angeles.

However, Mitch Kupchak decided to re-sign Hill in mid-July with a two-year deal worth $18 million. Per the L.A. Times, Kupchak issued this statement:

Jordan’s frontcourt versatility is a benefit to our roster and his on-court work ethic is something we value on our team. We hope he’ll continue to work hard and develop as an NBA player.

Hill was slotted as the Lakers’ starting center, but had an underwhelming preseason. After Randle suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the season, it was clear that Hill — along with the rest of the Lakers’ frontcourt — would have to pick up the slack.

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Despite the Lakers currently being 0-5, Hill has performed quite well. And although it’s not saying much with the Lakers having a less-than-usually-talented roster, Hill has proved to be the Lakers’ second-best player through the first five games of the season.

Once the energy-filled forward who came off the bench to clean up the offensive glass (also affectionately known as “The Garbage Man”), Hill has by necessity taken on the role of a “Go-To” player for the Lakers.

It’s an extremely small sample size (five games), but Hill has displayed an increase in points (14.8) and rebounds (9.2) in increased minutes (30.0). Hill averaged 9.7 points and 7.4 rebounds in 20.8 minutes last season.

Additionally, Hill’s ORB% (16.6) and DRB% (18.8) are still at a solid level, but it’s certainly too early in the season to start throwing out those particular stats.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando MagicThe stat that has stood out and may be indicative of something concrete, however, has been Hill’s shooting percentage from 10-16 feet. Currently, Hill is averaging 63.6 percent from that range compared with 41.4 percent from last season. Now, that clip is likely to dip a bit, but it’s a good sign for Lakers fans that Hill has started off the season hot from that range — and is taking a larger portion of his shots from that range as well (approximately 20 percent). It’s evident that Hill is more comfortable and confident in taking shots from that distance.

Just for edification, Hill’s PER is currently sitting at 23.2 (up from last year’s 19.3), which is actually higher than Kobe Bryant’s 19.9 so far this season.

Again, stats and percentages are likely to be quite volatile to begin an NBA season, but Hill has shown thus far that he’s up for the challenge of taking on a bigger role on this Lakers’ team — primarily at the center position.

Looking back at last season, Hill actually had a higher PER at the center position (25.4) than he did at the power forward slot (18.2), although he spent more time at the four. This adds to the belief that Hill is more than capable of offensively holding down the Lakers’ center position. Defensively, Hill’s counterparts had a collective PER of 19.6, however.

Nonetheless, Hill is currently the team’s best option at either position, although Ed Davis is certainly proving to be a promising big man himself and is actually averaging the kind of efficient numbers Hill used to in his previous role off the bench — in a similar role that Hill played (Davis is currently averaging 10.4 points and 7.2 rebounds in 22.8 minutes).

As for Hill, he has stepped out of his previous role and taken on a new challenge for a Lakers team that desperately needs any help it can get.

Per Lakers Nation’s own Serena Winters, Hill certainly feels a certain responsibility to the team:

In a season that appears to have rough waters ahead, one positive has been the expansion of Hill’s game and his willingness to take on a bigger role with the Lakers.

Jordan Hill has essentially been promoted from the team’s Garbage Man to the main man in the middle: The Post Man.

(All stats courtesy of www.basketball-reference.com)

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