Despite D’Antoni’s resistance to have two players in the post (hence him wanting Hill to become an outside threat), it’s very possible that Hill will actually be starting alongside Pau Gasol. Similarly, most of the time Hill is on the court, he’ll likely be playing alongside another post player.
Therefore, it would be wise to use Hill closer to the basket where he is comfortable, perhaps even running a play or two for him. As mentioned earlier, Hill’s offensive rebounding is a huge plus, and largely accounts for the more than half (52.7 percent) of his offense that’s counted as “unassisted” around the rim (less than five feet).
In comparison, last season, Dwight Howard’s converted shots in the same range were assisted 69.8 percent of the time; Howard had a higher eFG% in that range, however, at 65.7, as opposed to 61.8 percent by Hill.
With Hill’s relative agility, power, and ability to finish around the rim, turning him into a pick-and-roll threat could boost the Lakers’ offensive potency. Also, as mentioned, just as Howard’s production close to the rim last season was a result of assisted plays, plenty of those plays came as a result of Gasol’s superior passing coupled with his unselfishness.
I’m not saying take Pau out of the post by any means as he’s one of the best low-post players in the game, but he’s an extremely effective passer from the high-post and flourishes when he’s able to mix it up on the offensive end of the floor.
Additionally, I can certainly see Chris Kaman and Jordan Hill coexisting quite well, too. Besides shots at the rim, Kaman is most comfortable taking shots in the 15-19 foot range and excels at it with an eFG% of 51.4, which could certainly spread the floor for Hill to either collect offensive rebounds, be the recipient of pick-and-rolls, or be the beneficiary of some high-low action (although Kaman isn’t a prolific assists guy like Pau).
Size has been the Lakers’ biggest advantage the Lakers have had over teams since 2008, and although the front line may not be as formidable on paper as it once was with Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard, rebounding and solid defense are two keys to winning any basketball game; they are also two areas in which Jordan Hill is quite capable.
On the defensive side of the ball, if the Lakers want any chance at being a solid defending team, they’ll have to play Hill. As Drew Garrison of Silver Screen & Roll details, Jordan is the Lakers’ best front court defender, and will likely be one of Kurt Rambis’ key weapons.
The intangibles Hill brings to the table are his greatest attributes, though.
Although not an elite one-on-one defender, Hill’s certainly an active team defender who adds a certain physicality to the game. With Metta World Peace gone, that type of physical player is an absolute necessity for the Lakers. His hustle and “Garbage Man” mentality are attributes that can greatly help a team find the energy to gut out a tough win.
Despite his capability of producing double-doubles on a regular basis, his numbers won’t reflect the impact he has on most nights.
Moreover, he may not even get major minutes on certain nights, but he’s proven that he can be productive and make an impact in a limited amount of time on the floor.
If he can stay healthy, Jordan Hill can be a constant for the Lakers — someone who fans, coaches, management, and teammates can all expect to deliver 100 percent each and every night.
He just may be the Lakers’ X-Factor.
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