Lakers report card: Jordan Hill exceeded expectations
This is the 11th in a series of posts grading the Lakers on the 2011-12 season.
Player: Jordan Hill
How he performed: 4.7 points on 46.7% shooting and 4.4 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per game in the regular season; 4.8 points on 43.4% shooting from the field and 6.3 rebounds in 18.1 minutes per game in the post-season.
The good:The moment Hill stepped on the court, many Laker fans surely thought Mike Brownwas just needlessly shuffling his rotation again. Yet this time it worked. With Andrew Bynumgiving a subpar effort and the Lakers lacking consistent secondary frontcourt scoring, Brown inserted Hill in a game April 22 against Oklahoma City hoping he could provide a spark.
His 14 points and 15 rebounds in the Lakers’ 114-106 double-overtime victory over the Thunder earned him an immediate spot in the rotation. Hill then quickly proved his emergence wasn’t an aberration. He posted double-digit efforts in both Games 1 and 2 in the Lakers’ playoff wins against Denver. Despite showing limited knowledge of the playbook, Hill became a relatively consistent option in making hustle plays and converting on offensive putbacks. And with Hill entering this off-season as a restricted free agent, he gave the Lakers at least some consideration for keeping him.
The bad: Even though Hill became a pleasant surprise, the Lakers gave up too much to acquire him in what amounted to a cost-cutting move. The Lakers lost Derek Fisher’s respected locker-room standing and a first-round draft pick, two areas that still bode superior to anything Hill provided off the bench.
Hill played in only five games out of 21 possible appearances because of a sprained ligament in his right knee. He didn’t have enough practice time and game experience to know much of the playbook. And for all the promise he showed late in the season, Hill became a non-factor in the Western Conference semifinals against Oklahoma City. It also didn’t help that Hill has a pending court case in Houston stemming from a third-degree felony charge.
Hill provided the perfect template on how to become an impact player off the bench despite receiving few looks. Make hustle plays, have a positive attitude, provide a defensive presence and pass the ball to the open man at the right time. Hill did that so well that he immediately surpassed Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy in the rotation. Still, Hill had limitations in his game, and it remains unclear how much he’ll develop.
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