Finding a Bright Spot in a Dismal Season

The buzzer sounded at the Bradley Center on a chilly spring Milwaukee night and the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves on the losing end once again in a season that just won’t end quickly enough. The 16-time NBA champions had just been swept in a season series against the Milwaukee bucks – the league’s worst team, who have a winning percentage that’s less than .200. No team has won fewer than 20 percent of their games in a full NBA regular season since the 2009 New Jersey Nets.

This pretty much summed up the Lakers woeful season, who have lost to the bad and been crushed by the best throughout the season. It’s difficult to find many positives after a season like this that’s been riddled with countless injuries or even in a loss against the Bucks, but walking out of the locker room in Milwaukee was Jordan Hill, one of the few silver linings in the Lakers dismal 2013-14 season.

Hill scored 28 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a losing effort in just 31 minutes. He made 13 of his 17 field goal attempts. Nine of his 16 rebounds were of the offensive variety. These type of numbers aren’t an anomaly either. Hill has continuously showed this season how efficient he can be.

He missed almost a month due to injury, but in his four games back he has scored 28 points twice, which have been season highs for the power forward. He has also grabbed 14.7 percent of all available offensive rebounds, the second highest among players who average at least 19 minutes per play.

Hill has limitations. He’s not the next Dwight Howard or Roy Hibbert. Defensively he’s not the greatest player in the world as evidenced by his defensive rating of 106. That said, this could be a product of the system he plays in which doesn’t stress defense at all as evidenced by the 16 consecutive games they allowed 100 or more points from early January until February.

Defensive deficiencies or not, Hill is a guy that the Lakers need to try to retain in the offseason. He only makes $3.5 million this year and he’s a high energy player the Lakers could sign for a couple of years for a good price. His rebounding abilities and constant energy are reason enough for the team to bring him back.

Just think about it for a second. Hill has been subjected to awful minutes by D’Antoni this year. He’s getting only 19 minutes per game – fourth-lowest on the team. Shawne Williams and Ryan Kelly are averaging more minutes than Hill. If a player is producing and not getting minutes there’s no doubt that this could lead to frustration. The fact that Hill still is playing hard and producing despite not getting the minutes he deserves is a testament to his character and focus.

Finally, concerns that giving Hill big minutes would tire him out and diminish his productivity are false. Hill’s best games have come when he gets big minutes. His per 36 minutes are incredible because he grabs a lot of rebounds in very few minutes but when he does play over 30 minutes, his numbers are consistent. When he plays 30 minutes or more, Hill averages 11.3 rebounds and 16.6 points. These are starter type numbers.

It’ll be interesting to see if this would keep up if Hill had a central role on a winning team. Guesses are that he can easily be a high energy guy off the bench and average 25-30 minutes per game. Whether he fits in a D’Antoni type system remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt Hill deserves more minutes because of his production. If he continues to not get them, then he may kiss L.A. good bye come summertime.


About andrekhatch

Red Sox. Cowboys. Lakers. Penguins. USC.
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