Jordan Hill is out for the season.
Many Los Angeles Lakers fans are thinking, "Oh, man we're finished." That's what I thought when I first heard the news.
But after further thought, I realized that Hill's injury could prove to be a blessing in disguise.
I'm not saying Jordan Hill is a bad player. In fact, he's the sixth best player on the team. He brings hustle and energy on both ends of the floor. He was also a great backup to Dwight Howard.
Hill's injury exposes how weak the Lakers are at center after Dwight Howard. Robert Sacre is now D12's backup. Sacre's best features are his dancing and faces.
So how do you fix this problem? Simple.
Move Pau Gasol to center.
It's no secret that Gasol is a center at heart and that the Lakers do better when he's at the 5 than when he's at the 4.
So the realistic thing to do would be to move him to center.
Of course, you wouldn't keep him there all game. He is adding a three-point shot to his arsenal and is easily a better passer at the 4.
However, he definitely thrives at center more than power forward. Mike D'Antoni should just move him to the bench and start Metta World Peace, who has been doing quite well at power forward. Then he could move Kobe Bryant back to the 2 (he starts at small forward nowadays) and start Earl Clark at small forward.
In the past two games, Clark has dominated both DPOY front-runner Serge Ibaka and Hall of Famer Tim Duncan.
He did well on both ends of the court, posting 10 points and 10 rebounds against Ibaka and 22 points and 13 rebounds against Duncan. He also held them to six and eight points, respectively. In addition, Ibaka only blocked one shot against Clark, which is below his average of 2.82 per game.
Clark is also a capable three-point shooter, long two-point shooter and passer. This is because he was a guard in eighth grade but had a growth spurt that turned him into a big man. Heck, he still does guard drills.
Clark is also 24. When three of your four best players are 32 years old or older, then you need some youth on the floor. Better Clark than, say, 23-year-old Robert Sacre.
Yes, we are talking about a man who has never averaged more than 4.1 points per game in his career. However, Clark's shooting percentages have never wavered, except for two years when his free-throw percentages were horrendous.
He has also never been given the chance to prove himself. He has not averaged more than 12.4 minutes per game in his five NBA seasons and has broken double-digit minute averages only twice.
This video shows how Mike D'Antoni's system works. As you can see, there are never two players in the low post, which is where Howard and Gasol both thrive.
Gasol has already asked for more touches in the low post. If D'Antoni moves him to the bench and lets him play with Howard in only short periods of time, he will have the low post all to himself when Howard is off the floor, which is what he wants.
Clark is a better shooter outside the post than Gasol, so Clark will do better when he is playing with Howard. Clark is not a better player than Gasol, but he will be a better starter for that reason.
Then you put Antawn Jamison, who can go off and score 19 in any given game, as a backup to the equally inconsistent World Peace.
So the starting lineup would feature Nash, Kobe, Clark, Elbow Boy (MWP) and Howard, while the second unit would have Darius Morris, Jodie Meeks, Chris Duhon, Gasol and Jamison.
Moving Pau to the bench will (hopefully) instantly turn him into one of the premier sixth men of the NBA. He would strengthen the bench greatly.
Hill, Jamison, Gasol and World Peace have also denied Clark minutes, so he's never really had the chance to showcase his talent for coach Mike D'Antoni (who is not the right fit for the Lakers by the way, and answer the poll to give your opinion). If Pau goes to center while Hill is out, Clark will get more minutes.
Now the only problem left is depth at small forward—the backup to Clark is Devin Ebanks.
I'm not going to say problems exist at point guard because Chris Duhon, when he's playing well, can put in five to 10 assists. I wish he would play well more often, though. The Lakers also have sophomore Darius Morris, who may blossom under Nash's tutelage.
I can't really think of any good free-agent small forwards, and the Lakers don't have many good trade chips, so I'll just leave it at that.
Do you think that Jordan Hill's injury is a blessing in disguise? Please tell me your opinion in the comments box below and give me feedback on my article.
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