Antawn Jamison has fallen out of the Lakers rotation, a source of frustration for the veteran, but one he says he’s willing to endure for the opportunity to win a championship.
Certainly the Lakers haven’t shown they’re quite at that level, but the team has performed better with Jamison sitting out (although that may have more to do with the returns of Pau Gasol and Steve Nash than the absence of Jamison).
“He didn’t do anything to get out of the rotation, I just went a little different way,” said Coach Mike D’Antoni. “I thought Metta [World Peace] would give us a little toughness and defense.”
D’Antoni moved World Peace to the bench but with heavy minutes, now both at small and power forward.
Recently Jordan Hill found himself in the same position, out of the rotation, but now Hill is a regular contributor (getting some of Jamison’s minutes, no less).
How did Hill get back into the lineup despite other plans?
“His energy,” said D’Antoni, who noted he didn’t have the chance to help General Manager Mitch Kupchak put the roster together over the off-season and that he didn’t have the “luxury” of overseeing a training camp. “I had to go through everybody to see if I see something.”
“I like what I saw from [Jamison] but I like just a little bit better Jordan Hill right now," the Lakers coach continued. “In my mind I wanted to go small, but we might be better big, and if that’s the case we’re going to try the big for a while and we’ll see how that goes.”
D’Antoni initially thought spreading the floor would be the priority to help the offense, but he’s recognized the defense is really where the Lakers need him to be creative. The team has certainly struggled at times getting stops, not exactly Jamison’s calling card.
That’s why Darius Morris is in the starting lineup and Hill is getting minutes ahead of Jamison.
“As a coach, you try to figure out the puzzle,” D’Antoni said. “We kind of need Jordan’s energy, his defense and his ability to get offensive rebounds (and get extra possessions), his ability to be able to run the floor and be a big presence, and mostly having some youthfulness [with] good legs. If Pau is having a hard time getting back, [Jordan’s] already back. Just stuff like that. It’s really one playing off the other, and as a coach you just go with your gut.”
In 15.6 minutes a game this season, Hill is averaging 2.8 offensive rebounds a game, second only to Dwight Howard’s 3.7.