Role Play: Four Lakers Are Thriving In Their New-Found Roles
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Young (Swaggy P): Unwavering swagger in all arenas.

Objective: Provide a steady dose of scoring off the bench.

  • Points: 13.0
  • eFG%: 50.4
  • 3FG%: 32.5
  • Swag%: 100.0
  • Minutes: 23.9

If there was any debate before, there certainly isn’t any more — Nick Young is better off the bench than he is as a starter.

In six games as a starter this season, Young averaged 9.5 points with an eFG% of 37.3 in 21.3 minutes.

In six games as the team’s premier Bench Mob scorer, Young has averaged 16.5 points with an eFG% of 59.5 in 26.1 minutes.

Similarly, Young averages a three-point percentage of just 23.5 as a starter, as opposed to 39.1 percent as the team’s Sixth Man.

Swaggy P is clearly more effective off the bench, earns more minutes in his post there, and plays freely as he knows the coaches’ main objective for him is to do what he does best — score the basketball.

Most people expected Young to be Kobe’s primary backup and provide scoring for the Lakers while Kobe rehabbed from an Achilles injury, but it didn’t quite work out at first. However, after a move to the bench, Young has become the player fans expected him to be prior to the season — and is now tied for second leading scorer on the team.

Young’s goal at the beginning of the season was to earn Sixth Man of the Year honors. If he can keep delivering the kind of numbers he’s been putting up off the bench, he’ll certainly make a run at it.

Now, let’s take a look at arguably the biggest impact player for the Lakers — Jordan Hill

Jordan Hill (The Garbage Man): One man’s brick is the Garbage Man’s brick…of gold. 

Objective: Grab offensive rebounds, get tip-ins, finish at the rim, and make an impact.

  • Points: 10.4
  • Rebounds: 8.4
  • ORB%: 18.1
  • Minutes: 20.9

Prior to the season, I declared that Jordan Hill very well could be the Lakers’ X-Factor. However, Hill has been one of the Lakers’ most consistent players and had an impact on almost every game he’s played in.

Fans saw how impressive Hill looked in limited minutes (6.3 points and 6.6 rebounds with an ORB% of 19.4 in 16.1 minutes), and clamored for Hill to get more minutes.

Mike D’Antoni finally granted everyone’s wish and has started Hill for the past four games, with impressive results.

In four games as the Lakers’ starting power forward, Hill has put up an average of 18.8 points and pulled down 12.0 rebounds (4.0 offensive) in 30.7 minutes. His ORB% dipped slightly to 16.5, but he still remains atop the league in this category among players who’ve played more than four games this season.

Perhaps one area that’s been overlooked during the four-game stretch has been his free throw percentage, where he’s been extremely accurate at 89.5 percent as a starter.

The bottom line is that Jordan Hill is a relentless player who continues to improve and simply won’t settle. Even after he earned his starting spot, he’s avoided complacency thus far and has stepped up his level of play even more, game by game.

The departure of Dwight Howard has allowed Hill the opportunity to shine as a big man, and if he can somehow continue to put up numbers anywhere close to the 18.8 and 12.0 he’s averaging as a starter, well…I’ll allow you make your own remarks on that one.

Affectionately known as the Garbage Man by Lakers fans, Hill is doing a lot more than just cleaning up the offensive glass. He’s finishing pick-and-rolls, defending opponents tough, and knocking down free throws.

Next Page: The Final Buzzer

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