Jordan Hill Out with Back Injury, Lakers Must Remain Patient

Darius Soriano —  October 9, 2012

Jordan Hill has been diagnosed with a herniated disk in his back and will sit out at least a week when he will be reevaluated. If you read Hill’s twitter account, you’d know that he’s not that concerned though this is something to monitor as the preseason advances.

In Sunday’s preseason opener, Hill showed why the Lakers coaches are so high on him heading into the season. While his rebounding numbers weren’t up to his normal standard, he played solid defense and flashed an expanding offensive game that included a nice mid-range jumper. It’s too early to tell if the jumper will be a steady part of his game moving forward, but it was certainly nice to see him shoot it with confidence and without hesitation.

Beyond any growth in his game, though, having Hill ready to play consistent minutes once the season begins is sort of a big deal.

First of all, while it’s still early in camp, Mike Brown has started out playing Antawn Jamison exclusively at small forward. This leaves Hill as the only viable PF on the roster beyond Pau Gasol (no offense, Earl Clark). Hill will be expected to back up both big man spots this season but with Pau able to slide up and play some center, having Hill as a full time reserve at PF is seemingly more important than whatever minutes he can play in the pivot (especially if Robert Sacre can make the team and provide some spot minutes there).

Second of all, Hill remains the only Laker big (besides Howard and Pau) that can play the type of defense that Mike Brown requires while also doing enough work on the glass that the team’s board work doesn’t suffer. Hill has relatively quick feet for a man his size and his athleticism allows him to move around the court well enough that he can hedge, recover, challenge shots, and hit the glass all on a single possession. When you combine that work with his efforts on the offensive glass, the Lakers have an ideal third big man. Sure, the team could piecemeal players together to try and duplicate what Hill provides but having him available is a much easier solution.

At this point, it’s too early to say what will happen with Hill long term and, thus, still too early to make any long term roster decisions based off this injury. Adding a veteran PF like Kenyon Martin sounds like a good idea in the short term but would seem wasteful on a variety of levels. This is especially true in terms of using up any more of the Lakers’ mini mid-level exception or in guaranteeing a contract when the team already has some difficult decisions to make at the bottom of their roster regarding young players who have shown some promise. Even for a team in “win now” mode, roster decisions must have more long term thought behind them than what’s needed over the next week (or even the next month).

For now, then, we wait and we hope. We should know more in a week and can reevaluate where the team stands at that point. We must also sit tight and hope that this issue ins’t recurring as the season advances. Backs can be tricky that way and ensuring his long term availability is surely at the top of the Lakers’ wants right now.

Hill may not be the most important Laker but as stated above he has value and when the dominoes do start to fall that can change the equation quickly.

Darius Soriano

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13 responses to Jordan Hill Out with Back Injury, Lakers Must Remain Patient

  1. (pulled from the Lakers/Warriors recap comments) (read comments 64 on from there)

    Kareem-

    I agree with you 100%, the lakers did not have a championship squad last year. (based on talent).

    Last year’s 2nd round exit was not a surprise… but MBs coaching was… and now, as an unimportant laker fan, I lack confidence in that guy

    —My point was, when your coach starts Ebanks for 12 games and then all of the sudden Ebanks can’t even get a minute of action (cause his play hurts the team, apparently) …..it makes you think… One of those two decisions (him as a starter and him getting DNPs) must be an over reaction and thus ONE OF THOSE TWO DECISIONS HURT THAT LAKER TEAM. …… This is one example of how his rotations hurt that team.

    —My point was that by not having the awareness to run YOUR BEST OFFENSIVE SET in the season’s most important game (up to that date) is one example that shows that perhaps, MB, offensively as a coach, seems incompetent.

    — and there were times I thought MB’s game management was pretty bad last year. That 35-0 run (when I heard about it here) made me, kinda pause, cock my head to the side and mumble, “mike? c’mon.”

    (I know it was a preseason game, when the starters were out… I know I didn’t see that part of the game… but it (unfairly? or rightly?, who knows) reinforces the distrust of MB’s decision making)

  2. Great analysis, Darius. Hill is the perfect fit for our Laker team in so many ways. I’m encouraged that his condition may be far less than a season ending injury–more like a precautionary move.

  3. Good news for Canadian basketball fans is that Robert Sacre will most likely be taking Hill’s minutes while he is out.

  4. darius: it’s clear, based on coach brown’s history that home court advantage has been utmost on his to do list as far as the nba season is concerned. for the most part it’s a profound stragety and has worked for many a teams in route to an nba championship.

    since we’re all concerned about this current nba season and the collective age of lakers current roster, it will be interesting to see how coach brown utilizes the playing time of each player during the course of preseason, regular and postseason. barring longterm injury, the outcome will bear fruit once coach brown understands the capabilities and limitations of each individual player and how well he adapts to the changes as the season progresses.

    We at fb&g will be there every step of the way to make sure that the crystal ball before us will help us see the way and lend insight toward our next nba champsionship the los angeles lakers so deservedly desire.

    thanks again darius for keeping us in the laker loop.

    Go Lakers

  5. No disrespect to anyone here, but can we please stop bringing comments over from earlier threads????

    New thread = new ideas.

    Otherwise, just start the conversation over again.

    Sorry, it drives me nuts ! (maybe cause I’m an old man and too lazy to re-read comments from earlier threads)

    Thanks! Peace!

  6. Encouraging news:

    @WojYahooNBA: Y! Sources: Lakers forward Jordan Hill won’t need back surgery, will return to lineup this month. http://t.co/QCySLrX6

  7. Great news about Jordan Hill coming back relatively soon. His ability to be that quality third big man is going to be critical.

    One small aside, is there any way we can make it so that longer comments don’t hang in the moderation queue for a while?

    To be clear, I am definitely NOT pointing the finger at any of our fine FB&G editors who absolutely do and should have lives outside of this blog, but it seems like conversations would flow a bit better if longer comments don’t need to be pre-approved before appearing.

  8. Great news on Hill. He’s one player I’m really pulling for a breakout season.

    Drew,

    If we move away from the hyperbole and stick to facts, these black and white declarations become more and more muddled.

    If you remember, the idea was to have Metta come off the bench behind Ebanks, with Barnes providing spot minutes. Game 5 of the young season, Barnes was announced as the starter and Ebanks was dropped from the rotation into D-League purgatory. My guess is that Ebanks’ total lack of an outside shot may have swayed MB to make the switch. And in the end, he probably made the right choice in sticking with Barnes, who was one of the few consistent players for the Lakers last season. You’re going to criticize Brown for making good adjustments? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    Also relevant to this whole Ebanks tripe (that many people have gone on and on about) is that last season was shortened by the lockout, as was training camp and preseason. Does it really surprise anyone that coach Brown was still feeling out his starters several games into the new season with a new team? That’s why Ebanks went from starter to development fodder. To me, this is a very weak indictment of Brown’s coaching acumen.

    Brown’s offensive coaching has been somewhat suspect at time, which is why I think its a good sign he’s agreed to bring in coach Jordan to install the Princeton. Is that not a sign of leadership, deferring to those more equipped than you to provide their expertise? As for last season, I believe that Brown’s offensive schemes (or lack thereof) had as much to do with the Lakers’ lack of personnel as coach’s inadequacies. But honestly, I’m in no position to judge his strategies from last season. I don’t know enough. But what I do know is that we were setup for failure from the beginning. If offense continues to be a problem midway through this season (with our offensive juggernaut to be), then I’ll raise my finger of protest. Right now, not worth my time.

  9. Dr Clapper, sits near Jack on the court, is an experienced medical doctor and a radio personality on ESPN 710.

    He indicated the injury was in the vertebra and disk at the base of the spine, not the L4/L5 where most of us have had problems. For that reason he stated the Lakers did exactly the right thing by resting him early and reexamining him in a week. This is not likely an injury that will require any type of surgery, nor is it a long-term issue that is likely to reoccur later in the season.

  10. This Hill news is of course fantastic as he is our only big off the bench. Surgery of course would mean he would be out for the year. All we need now is a back up PG and the Lakers would have the only perfect roster ever assembled in the NBA outside of All Star teams. We do realize this right? If Howard fully recovers from back surgery (and as a Lakers fan I’ve talked myself into believing its possible)… The Lakers with a solid back up PG would have a nine man rotation with no holes and five star players starting. Yes five star players. Steve Nash looks like he again went an entire offseason stiff arming father time and MWP looks more like Indiana Ron than the lumbering one dimensional player of the last two seasons playing with a bad back. Since back up PGs are the easiest players to obtain in the NBA (the Lakers got a great back up last year for a draft pick) its easy to see the Lakers becoming one of the more unique NBA teams in the associations history.

  11. Kareem.

    I actually agree with just about everything you say. I always enjoy read your comments. I was just trying to defend all of us paranoid laker fans :)

    Oh, and if it was really only 4 games (at the start of the season) that Ebanks started, the it makes my first argument very week. I’ll have to revisit some box scores, but I could have sworn it was for almost the forst quarter of the season.