Sports Out West

Jordan Hill rebounds like an All-Star, saves game vs. Hawks

Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers super-reserve Jordan Hill is an elite level rebounder with a knack for finding the ball. He’s more often than not in the right place at the right time, and his per-minute production from a rebounding standpoint is off the charts. 

This season, he’s off to the races and averaging a hearty 17.1 rebounds per 40 minutes through four games, and with his health issues stemming from a torn labrum in his hip seemingly behind him, he’s ready to do even more damage this season. 

All of this was apparent on Sunday night when he snagged a critical offensive rebound in the waning seconds of the Lakers’ narrow 105-103 win over the visiting Atlanta Hawks. Los Angeles was in control for most of the game, but then saw the Hawks come roaring back. Things looked bleak late in the fourth quarter with the Lakers down by one at the 17-second mark. 

That’s when Hill went into glass-eating mode: 

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Good rebounders are active well before the shot goes up. On this high screen by Pau Gasol with Steve Nash, Hill is looking to set a down screen on Xavier Henry‘s man to create more space on the weak side. But look at Hill’s head. He always knows where the ball is, and that’s a major component of being a good rebounder. 

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Hill is setting a weak side off-ball screen here, but is fully aware of where the ball is as Gasol and Nash engage in the two-man game with Gasol preparing to get into the low block. 

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This is where the activity really starts. Hill sees Henry’s defender cheating in the lane and has the foresight to keep him out of position for the defensive board. With him out of the picture, Hill already sees daylight underneath the basket, and that’s where his opportunity to steal a rebound will be. 

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As the shot goes up, Hill sprints to the open space on the left side of the paint… 

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… and outworks two defenders to make the most critical play in the game and give the Lakers another chance to put the game away, which they did. 

This is just one sequence, and it came at the most important time of the game. This is no anomaly — Hill does these types of things all the time. He’s instant energy and when he’s healthy, his ball instincts combined with his ability to battle underneath make him the elite rebounder he is. 

There’s a lot of wonder as to why he’s not getting more minutes, but as D’Antoni figures out his long-term rotation, it’s clear that Hill needs to be a big part of it. 

Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports 

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.