Drafted as the eighth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, center Jordan Hill was never a heavy contributor to a team. Dealing with injury for the most part during his first year as a Laker, Hill was able to finish the last five regular season games as well as both playoff series against the Nuggets and Thunder.
Resigned for a two-year extension, Hill looks to have a bigger role this year. Still only 25, the area of development for the young center is high, and playing for a playoff team alongside Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant will only make him better.
Here are five reasons why Hill should not be undervalued heading into the 2012 season.
Due to his back surgery the return date for the newly acquired big man, Dwight Howard, is uncertain. Because of the sensitivity of the back, Howard may miss a significant amount of time to ensure that he is 100 percent before returning back to the court.
With Howard's absence, the Lakers can move Pau Gasol to center and have veteran Antawn Jamison fill in the power forward spot, or have the young Jordan Hill take a crack at the starting rotation.
In either scenario, a player who has averaged only 14.6 minutes per game in his career, Hill can expect that number to go up. With more minutes, he'll only gain experience and become a better player.
Hill will have a big task holding down the fort of Lakers front line and filling in for Superman as he recovers from back surgery.
In the short time he was with the Lakers last season, Jordan Hill proved to be a physical presence. Although not a prolific scorer, Hill makes up for it with great energy and hustle. He has a great motor, and is not afraid to be physical down low to grab rebounds.
In just 11.7 minutes per game during the regular season, Hill averaged 4.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. At that rate, Hill would have averaged about 14.5 points and 13.6 rebounds in 36 minutes.
Hill's hustle also provides a physical presence as he is unafraid to dive for loose balls. He also displayed a mind-set that most bench players should have, and that is making yourself valuable by hustling on both offense and defense.
Having Jordan Hill in the team, Mike Brown and the Lakers can utilize more of their size advantage. Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts weren't exactly the most imposing players. Hill has a higher motor than both Murphy and McRoberts and plays at a more physical level in the paint.
Hill is valuable because of his size and playing style, and he also gives the Lakers some relief should Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol need to rest or suffer injury.
The added depth Hill provides makes the Lakers more versatile as well because he is able to play both power forward and center positions. This will allow Brown more flexibility in figuring out combinations.
It's simple. Jordan Hill's presence makes life easier for the starters. Last season the Lakers possessed one of the worst benches in the league as they often gave away leads. This meant that starters would have to rest less in order to try to protect or regain that lead.
When given the minutes, Hill has proven to be a double-double threat as he proved last postseason. In three games where he played more than 23 minutes in the postseason, Hill produced 2 double-doubles.
Although a great energy player, his inside game on offense needs more work if he wishes to be a more balanced player. However, he has youth, athleticism and a defensive presence, which make him a solid option off the bench.
A 43.4 percent field goal shooter in the playoffs, Hill showed a lot of confidence in his first ever trip to the postseason. If he can play with that same confidence to start the 2012 season, the Lakers will be in good shape.
The retention of Hill on the bench will also make it more likely that the starters won't have to come back to court from substitution earlier to regain a blown lead or to overcome a double-digit deficit.
A full offseason with the Lakers gives Jordan Hill a full training camp to learn Mike Brown’s playbook. Still a young player, Hill can certainly polish some skills here and there.
Not only would Hill benefit from a full training camp by learning the playbook, he would also benefit from playing with two of the brightest minds in the game.
Playing alongside Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant will easily make Hill a better player, and with increased paying time, Hill has the potential to put up a solid season this year.
Training camp will allow veterans such as Nash, Bryant, Gasol and Jamison to help polish Hill's game and allow him to develop into his potential.
Just look at what Nash was able to do for Marcin Gortat in Phoenix last season. For his career, Gortat was averaging 8 points per game in Orlando. Once he was acquired by Phoenix last season, he averaged 15.4 points per game, and many of those points can be credited to Nash.
Clearly not one of the Lakers top scoring options, Hill will also have easy looks, and you can bet both Nash and Bryant will be able to find him open down low in the paint.