Sports Out West

Jordan Hill primed for starting role with Lakers

Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers heading next season have a few decisions to make in terms of their roster and one of those choices will be determine who will be the team’s starting center.

This offseason, the team was unable to retain long-time forward Pau Gasol as he elected to sign with the Chicago Bulls on a multi-year deal, so they went another route by adding a few big men such as Ed Davis, Carlos Boozer, drafted Julius Randle, and re-signed Jordan Hill. Out of that bunch, the most ideal player to start at center appears to be Hill.

The 27-year-old is coming off a career-best season as he had career-highs across the board in points (9.7), rebounds (7.4), field goal percentage (.549), minutes per game (20.8), and starts (30). This also includes posting 15 double-doubles, recording his first four 20-point and 10-rebound games of his career, notching a career-best 28 points twice, and grabbing a career-high 17 rebounds against the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 17.

Although he was able to produce at a high level for much of the season, he was often lost in the shuffle for playing time under Mike D’Antoni and as result it severely affected his ability to be an impact player on the daily basis for the team. That said, Hill did have a couple stretch where he displayed potential to be capable starting center.

For example, over a string of seven starts in mid-December Hill averaged 15.0 points on 56 percent field goal percentage to go along with 11.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks in 31.0 minutes per game. During that span he scored at least 10 points in each game, recording one block or more in all but one contest, and posted four double-doubles.

Following that stretch he was unable to get a sufficient amount of playing time until the final the month of the season where he averaged 16.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks in the last eight games of the year. During that time, he had six double-doubles and scored in double figures in each contest that included topping 20 points on two occasions.

What this points out is that Hill can be a productive player when given a sizable amount of minutes, which is something that new head coach Byron Scott plans to do with the five-year veteran the center position this upcoming season as he believes he was “underutilized” under D’Antoni over the last two seasons.

Hill has the skill level to be a formidable starting center for the Lakers, and he will have a chance to prove it this upcoming season. He will likely not be depended upon as one of the team’s top scoring options but rather as a rebounder and defensive presence. Hill strived in that role last season when he did start and his offensive production came on low-post shots or putbacks off of rebounds.

Los Angeles will need him to be an impact player in order to not only provide stability at the position, but also help give his team the best chance to win on a nightly basis. All in all , the opportunity will be there for Hill to play in a significant role on team next season and it will be up to him to make the most of it.

Watch below highlight of Hill from last season:

Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.