One of the more interesting narratives surrounding Friday night’s loss to the Spurs was the playing time of Jordan Hill. Hill, who is averaging only 14 minutes per game on the season, is averaging some wild per 36 numbers — 16.3 points and 16.3 rebounds on just under 70 percent shooting.
Despite the fact that Hill has been extremely efficient while he’s been on the floor, Hill only played the final 11 minutes in the game against the Spurs, which led many wondering why Hill didn’t see much time, especially considering how unproductive Shawne Williams has been in a similar number of minutes played per game, 15. Williams per 36 numbers have been dramatically lower than Hills, 4.8 points, 8.8 rebounds on 20 percent shooting, yet Hill still hasn’t found a spot in the regular rotation. However, head coach Mike D’Antoni hinted that it may change soon, according to the LA Daily News.
“That would be the obvious,” D’Antoni said when asked if Hill deserved more minutes. “But if you talk to everybody else, they’ll say what about me? We have a lot of guys. That’s what happens. You have a lot of guys unhappy. I might have to get to the point where two of them are ticked off at me and eight of them love me.”
Until D’Antoni figures out what to do with him, Hill will be the odd man out in a log jam between the two front-court positions — not because of his effort or lack of production, but because of the style of D’Antoni’s offense. While Gasol and Kaman have very defined roles, Williams is on the floor because of his ability to stretch the floor, and Wes Johnson has been getting back up minutes there for the same reason.
That has left Hill as the odd man out, which has proved to be frustrating for all.
“It’s not my decision how many minutes I get. I just want to go out there and produce when I’m out there with those minutes,” Hill said. “[D’Antoni] will do what he feels is best for how the game goes. Whenever he calls my name, I’ll continue to do what I do.”
While the number of minutes for Hill have been consistently low, his production in those minutes has been productive as well. When on the floor, Hill has been creating second chances for the Lakers at an alarming rate. Hill’s ORB% of 28.57 isn’t just the highest in the NBA by a wide margin this season (next on the list is Reggie Evans at 15.52), but if sustained, would be the highest in NBA history, surpassing Dennis Rodman’s all-time mark of 20.83.
Hill may not be the most talented guys on the Lakers roster, but he’s continually one of the most active and hardest working. Even if he doesn’t exactly fit a certain offensive philosophy, he’s a guy you can still find minutes for because he helps your team in multiple ways. There may not be an immediate fix as D’Atnoni has more than one rotation kink to work out, but Hill playing more minutes should definitely be a long-term goal for the coaching staff.
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