It was theorized all throughout the offseason that Jordan Hill would have an opportunity at becoming the Los Angeles Lakers starting power forward due to the departure of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol expected to slide over to the center position.
In the summer Hill had even worked on his outside shooting to help better suit himself in head coach Mike D’Antoni’s system as a stretch forward. But as Lakers played through the preseason , Hill did not receive a legitimate shot at making the starting lineup as he came off the bench playing at both power forward and center.
Before this week the Lakers had given both Shawne Williams and Chris Kaman starts at power forward, but each struggled to bring any consistency at the position for the team. Hill had remained on the bench as a backup big man who can bring energy when played, which he has excelled at for the first 11 games of the season.
As Kaman and Williams continued to struggled to produce in the starting lineup, D’Antoni to place Hill in the starting lineup for last Tuesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans. In his first game as a starter for the Lakers this season, he scored a career-high 21 points to go along with 11 rebounds, and two steals.
Hill followed his career-best game in the next two games by recording 18 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in Wednesday’s 111-99 loss to the Denver Nuggets, and in Friday’s 89-86 loss to the Memphis Grizzles he scored 12 points with five rebounds and three blocks.
As a starter Hill has brought some much needed energy, rebounding and defending as he is averaging 17 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in the last three games. His play has helped bring solidarity to the power forward position for the Lakers. All of this comes as no surprise to D’Antoni as Hill has been an impactful player for Los Angeles thus far into this regular season.
“I think he’s been effective the whole time,” D’Antoni said after the Lakers 116-95 win on Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans. “The group he was with, the second group, was our best lineup. I was a little hesitant to break that up, because that was the thing that seemed it was going well. But, he gave the first group a little jolt of energy.”
The energy that Hill plays with on the floor, as Gasol points out, is a major factor in his ability to be an effective player for his team.
“You know with Jordan he is going to bring energy, effort and is going to be around the rim,” Gasol said, who had 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes played in Tuesday’s 116-95 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. ”So by doing that he’s giving himself a chance to get rebounds, putbacks, and easy layups when the defense collapses on other guys.”
So as Hill continues to get starts, expect him to continue to flourish in his new role, as he brings the Lakers a much need energy player on the floor.
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