As I stumbled out of Rehab (Las Vegas pool party) over Memorial Day weekend this past spring, I recognized a familiar face (and hairstyle) towering above the rest of the crowd and casually making his way through a hallway of the Hard Rock Hotel.
“It’s Jordan Hill,” I exclaimed in my head, but perhaps in a calm state of mind due to the relaxing atmosphere in which I had just exited (yeah, right), I shook his hand, did a 180 degree spin (much like the Michael Jackson spin I attempted the night before, which resulted in a sprained ankle), and walked alongside the Lakers forward to offer a few words of encouragement.
“Hey man, keep doin’ what you’re doin’; you’re gonna be a rotation player next season. You’re gonna be a big part of the future,” I said.
“Thanks bro, I appreciate it,” responded Hill, who genuinely seemed to appreciate the support.
Although I truly believed what I said, little did I know that Dwight Howard would leave the Lakers and leave Jordan Hill with a potentially increased role.
While the Lakers have their core group of players in Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol, as well as a group of fresh faces in the forms of Chris Kaman, Nick Young, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Farmar (well, somewhat fresh), and the rest of the bunch, Jordan Hill is one of the few holdover role players — and he very well could be an X-Factor for the Lakers next season.
While Mike D’Antoni wants Hill to expand his game to become a “stretch four,” Phillip Barnett explained why that ambition may be a bit unrealistic earlier this month.
Additionally, Barnett explained how Hill had an insane ORB% (Offensive Rebound Percentage) in a limited 29 games last season, and should stick to doing what he does best–cleaning up the offensive glass.
I certainly agree with this, but I also believe D’Antoni can squeeze even more offense out of Hill, and shouldn’t bench him in the event that he doesn’t become a long range threat over the summer. He just has to do it the way he did it in Phoenix with numerous offensively unpolished forwards — through the pick-and-roll.