Below are three ways Jordan Hill’s herniated disc could impact the Lakers.
1. The Lakers lose an energetic bench presence. The Lakers announced that Hill will be reevaluated in a week, so it’s safe to pencil him out of the Lakers’ preseason games Wednesday against Portland in Ontario and Saturday against Utah at Staples Center. That severely dents the Lakers’ bench depth considering Coach Mike Brown had been raving all training camp about Hill’s development. In the Lakers’ preseason loss Sunday to Golden State, Hil scored 10 points and was the only player to play 20 minutes.The Lakers have had high hopes for Hill, signing him to a two-year, $7-million deal this off-season after surprising the team with his energy and athleticism late in the season.
2. This could stunt Hill’s development. Given the nature of back injuries, it remains unclear what long-term implications this could have. Just ask Luke Walton, whose chronic back pain made it nearly impossible to regain his form as an average role player. Hill has far more athleticism and post-up moves than Walton could ever have. But the principles still apply. It’s possible it could become more challenging to provide the hustle and athleticism that he once had. Meanwhile, Hill took steps in the first preseason game in showing more of a developed game with an mid-range jumper. Sometimes he forced the issue, but Brown sounded largely supportive of the approach. Given that skill set was still evolving, Hill’s injury could severely dampen that part of his game.
3. Hill’s injury makes Dwight Howard’s absence less tolerable. Howard isn’t going to suddenly expedite his rehab process because of this. The Lakers have maintained he’s only returning once he’s fully healthy. Still, the Lakers expressed little concern over Howard’s rehab because Hill provided enough defensive intensity to hold down the fort on a short-term basis. The Lakers don’t have anyone in their lineup that matches that job description. Pau Gasol would’ve preferred conserving energy for the regular season. Antawn Jamison remains a step slow. The likes of Earl Clark, Robert Sacre and Greg Simogyi are too raw and inexperienced.
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