Los Angeles Lakers: Was Antawn Jamison a Better Fit Than Grant Hill?

Jeff SpiegelContributor IIJuly 17, 2012

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

As news broke last night that the Los Angeles Lakers were set to sign forward Antawn Jamison to a contract, many fans were reminded that Jamison, in fact, still plays in the NBA.

For others, however, the debate began to rage as to whether Jamison was actually a better fit for the Lakers than another veteran forward they were pursuing: Grant Hill. With the signing of Jamison all but completed, news broke this morning that Hill was also headed to Staples Center—only he'll be wearing a Clippers jersey.

With both veterans headed to Los Angeles, the question for Lakers fans becomes: did the Lakers pick the right one?

In short, the answer is yes.

While filled with numerous needs off the bench, among the most glaring holes is the need for a forward who can score. The other notable need in Lakerland is for a defensive stopper. However, neither Hill nor Jamison fits that bill.

So desperately in need of some inexpensive scoring, Jamison needed to be the top guy on GM Mitch Kupchak's list.

Jamison averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 rebounds a game last season while toiling away in Cleveland. Although his field goal percentage dipped to an all-time low of 40.3 percent, his career average is 45.1 percent.

For the Lakers, the scoring will be greatly welcomed.

While Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum all have no trouble scoring, the Lakers' second unit struggled mightily last season trying to score. The scoring was typically left to players like Matt Barnes, Metta World Peace and rookie Andrew Goudelock, all of whom were well out of their element.

With Jamison, the Lakers know exactly what they're getting. As a sixth-man, Jamison will come in off the bench and get easy baskets for the team while most of the stars are catching their breath. He isn't going to shut anyone down defensively, but his rebounding abilities will help extend the Lakers' height advantage.

In Hill, the Lakers were getting many of the same skills but to a lesser extent. Last season in Phoenix, Hill averaged 10.2 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 44.6 percent from the field.

Obviously, Hill was on a far better team with a deeper roster of scorers, so his numbers can't be directly compared with Jamison's. Hill is also a better defender than Jamison; however, he isn't someone who can truly bother elite players like Kevin Durant or LeBron James.

While Hill provided a slight edge defensively, the Lakers recognized the need for a proven scorer and opted for Jamison. Hill would have filled a role similar to that of Matt Barnes last season, providing above average defense and an average offensive game. The Lakers saw how that worked out last season and likely realized they needed to head in a new direction.

While not as flashy and exciting as the Steve Nash acquisition, the signing of Jamison is one that will be remembered by Laker fans come playoff time next season. Having averaged more than 14.8 points a game in every season since 1999, Jamison's numbers should remain pretty consistent as an off-the-bench scorer this season.