You Won't Guess Whom Mike D'Antoni Calls Lakers' Best Player

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2013

Nov 12, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill (27) celebrates as New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon (10) watches at Staples Center. The Lakers defeated the Pelicans 116-95. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For the Los Angeles Lakers and head coach Mike D'Antoni, the early part of this season has been about experimentation and seeing what each player brings to the table. For Jordan Hill, it was a lot in his first start of the season on Tuesday night.

Against the New Orleans Pelicans, Hill thoroughly outplayed sophomore sensation Anthony Davis. The newly minted Lakers starter finished the game with 21 points and 11 rebounds in just 26 minutes of action.

And after Hill's big night, it sounds like D'Antoni plans on keeping him in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future. Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding shared the coach's opinion of Hill:

Mike D'Antoni on new Lakers starter @jordanchill43: "He's really good--if not our best player."

— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) November 14, 2013

Wow. That was my initial reaction when I first read Ding's tweet. It's hard to understand why D'Antoni feels Hill may be the best player on the team after he has averaged just 17.2 minutes a game so far.

Maybe the Pelicans game was some kind of revelatory experience for the Lakers coach. Perhaps something finally clicked in his mind as he saw the 6'10", athletic Hill dominate the boards and play with a level of energy that Lakers bigs haven't shown in recent years.

There is some evidence to back up the revelation. Hill is averaging 16.5 points and 14.9 rebounds per 36 minutes this season. He's also tops in the NBA in rebounding percentage among players who have averaged at least 15 minutes a game.

Those numbers warrant the addition of Hill to the growing list of pleasant Lakers surprises, which already include leading scorer Jodie Meeks and the high-flying Xavier Henry.

If these younger guys continue to play like this, LA might compete for a playoff spot after all. 

 

All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference or NBA.com unless otherwise noted.

For 140-character pearls of wisdom from Bleacher Report's Andy Bailey, follow him on Twitter: @AndrewDBailey.