There's a good chance Jordan Hill will start for the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
And the game after that. And the game after that.
Head coach Mike D'Antoni was looking to shake up the LA starting five in the wake of a two-game losing streak, and many Laker fans were itching to see Hill start in at the power forward spot.
Jordan Hill: "I didn't really care about starting. I just want to get the minutes I feel I deserve, and just wait patiently."— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) November 13, 2013
After all, Hill has been arguably the Lakers' best player of the season to date. Though he had yet to play huge minutes, his efficiency numbers were through the roof.
Coming into tonight's game, he led the team with a .629 shooting percentage, 21.0 rebound rate, 21.8 player efficiency rating and .178 win shares per 48 minutes, according to Basketball Reference. Those are the kinds of numbers that simply scream out for more playing time.
Well, tonight against the same New Orleans Pelicans team that handled the Lakers just four nights earlier, Hill got those extra minutes. And the 26-year-old forward did not disappoint.
Hill started and played over 26 minutes in the Lakers' convincing 116-95 victory. While his overall stat line is impressive—a career-high 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting, 7 of 8 from the free-throw line, 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block—the numbers don't begin to tell the whole story.
Moving Hill to the starting lineup seemed to re-energize center Paul Gasol, who finished with an efficient 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists after struggling over the past few games. Chris Kaman also flourished following his move to the bench. Kaman worked marvelously with the second unit, notching eight points, nine rebounds and a shocking six assists.
Perhaps most importantly, the revamped Laker frontcourt did a marvelous job on New Orleans phenom Anthony Davis. Davis wreaked havoc on a lethargic Gasol and Kaman last Friday, dominating the older Laker bigs to the tune of 32 points and 12 rebounds in 37 minutes.
Tonight, however, Davis was never able to get on track, scoring just 15 points and grabbing just five rebounds. He was only able to play 26 minutes due to foul trouble.
After the game, according to a tweet (seen below) by Time Warner Cable Sportsnet Lakers sideline reporter Mike Trudell, D'Antoni credited Hill's high energy level and the rejuvenating effect it had on the team's starters.
D’Antoni praised Jordan Hill’s career-high game, saying he didn’t change how he plays (only one speed) but his energy lifted the starters.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 13, 2013
Moving forward, the Lakers lineup seems to fall under the category "ain't broke, don't fix." Both Kaman and swingman Nick Young played far better coming off the bench, and starting Hill at the power forward spot makes too much sense to ignore.