Dwight Howard’s Departure Opens Huge Opportunity for Jordan Hill

Andre Khatchaturian —  July 11, 2013

The stakes are high for Jordan Hill.

With Dwight Howard now in Houston, the Los Angeles Lakers are going to need heavy contributions from Hill as he steps into what could be a starter’s role if they’re going to make any sort of run this season.

The Lakers may have added big man Chris Kaman, but the chances Hill starts during the regular season remain pretty high. Even if he doesn’t start, you can definitely expect him to be playing more than the 15.8 minutes per game he was getting last year.

In limited action, Hill has shown that he can be an effective and useful player when healthy.

For one, Hill cleans the glass better than Windex or 409, scooping up 20.3 percent of all available offensive rebounds – the best in the NBA for players who played at least 25 games. That essentially means the Lakers will gain an extra possession for every five missed shots where Hill is under the rim. This is important for a team that will be relying on as many offensive possessions possible to win games.

Secondly, Hill was the epitome of efficiency as portrayed by his impressive Per 36 numbers. He averaged 15.2 points and 13 rebounds per 36 minutes and had a PER of 18.5.

Finally, he’s been a solid scoring option from the paint, hitting over 58 percent of his field goals from the restricted area. These are numbers that are screaming for a chance to play more minutes.

Despite these promising stats, Hill is coming off major hip surgery. He only played in 29 games last season before returning in the playoffs and playing scarcely. That being said, Hill has had all summer to rest up and has shown he can play a full NBA season, playing 72 games in 2010-11.

With Kobe Bryant out for possibly the first two months of the season, Hill has his work cut out for him. He is all of a sudden the third option for the Lakers.

Now is the time for the No. 8 overall pick from the 2009 NBA Draft to play like a No. 8 overall pick. He will be earning $3.56 million in 2013-14 and he has the opportunity to perhaps double or triple that amount when he enters free agency next summer if he steps up and becomes a reliable starter for the Lakers.

In a sense, Hill is going to be the one filling in Dwight’s massive shoes. No one is expecting him to match his output, but he has shown he has the talent to be a difference maker that alleviates pressure off Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, and Kobe. A strong season from him will be a pleasant surprise for a team that has seemingly had every break go against it throughout the past nine months.

So can Hill “extrapolate” his Per 36 numbers and rise up to the occasion to become a key contributor for the Lakers?

Statistical support from NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.

Andre Khatchaturian

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35 responses to Dwight Howard’s Departure Opens Huge Opportunity for Jordan Hill

  1. Warren Wee Lim July 11, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I for one am a big fan of his motor. He is an energy guy that when used properly, could very well be Joakim Noah, less the ugly jumper. I’ve seen flashes of his 18-footer last season as well, making him an easy bet to increase his production ala Earl Clark with this Purple and Gold-en opportunity.

    I cringe whenever I see his name being floated around as possible trade bait. I think he’s a good character guy that’s quintessential for a team’s success. I hope we keep him and get the most out of him, as he gets the most out of his Laker audition.

  2. Warren Wee Lim July 11, 2013 at 10:48 am

    I also think a faster-paced offense from the bench would be very useful for his skillset. I’d like to run Jordan Farmar, Jodie Meeks and him as we try to revive our Bench Mob from sometime ago.

    He is easily becoming 1 of my favorite Laker role players.

  3. He is all of a sudden the third option for the Lakers.
    …..
    I agree with WWL in that J. Hill is what every team needs at least 1 of, and that’s an ‘Energy Guy’ .. With that being said, with all due respect to the author of this post, and, for that matter, J. Hill himself, if he’s our 3rd option (for the time being), that tells us a lot about how we can expect this season to turn out.

  4. WRT Kobe..If you need to tell the media and your teammates that its “Your Team” you are not a good leader….

  5. ‘Difference Maker” not Hill…He is a role player at best …..

  6. Gene-

    Take it elsewhere-plenty of places to enjoy anti-Kobe schadenfreude around the net.

  7. Wonder whatever happened to Leon Smith, that kid who washed out with the Mavericks in 2000? Reading up on him and it looks like he played in the CBA and had a few shots here and there – might still be playing overseas. I remember seeing him on the Lakers summer league team in Long Beach years ago and thinking he looked like he had talent.

    Guy’s 32 now. Not the 18-year old who made the mistakes that got him booted from the league. Wonder if he’ll ever get another look. I’m not trolling, though I doubt the dude will ever get another shot at it …

  8. MDA was never a fan of Hill, so it will be interesting to see what happens. It looks like MDA will continue to have a full plate of humble pie and play a slower game.

    Maybe we’ll even stress defense this year, but frankly, Pau and Kobe are not the fastest at rotations, and Kaman is no speedster either.

    Still no news on assistant coaches? It’s just MDA and his brother. I guess the Rambis rumors are still that.

  9. RR ..just cause you dont agree with me doenst mean I dont have a right to say it…you are not god… Fact is Kobe didnt get along with Shaq….Bynum….Howard….There is a reason there is lots of haters. Now Kobe saying he isnt taking a pay cut..sends a bad message to Free Agents…

  10. RR ..you just like Kobe….Its my ball and if you dont play nice I dont want you around..SMH…

  11. Gene – I’m not a fan of Kobe, but I respect his game and without question I see him as the Leader of this Lakers team.

    As far him not getting along with players… well Shaq got along fine with people as long as he was the #1 guy, but in his transition out of being the #1 guy he did not get along with a lot of stars, including Wade and Nash. So, yes, Kobe was also immature at the time and did not help the situation, but its not fair to lay it all on Kobe. As far as Bynum, well, the guy did not get along with Kareem and he is not exactly the most mature of athletes. And Howard… please. If there is one thing the public has never accused Howard of being, it is a leader.

    A better yard stick of Kobe’s leadership ability would be to see how countless players have had career years playing alongside him only to leave the Lakers for a better paycheck and then slowly drift into anonymity once their stats taper down (Machine, Farmar, Ariza, Smush, Shannon Brown, etc. Why is that? Because Kobe pushed this guys to be better on the court during games and at practice. Once that pressure was off, some of these guys regressed due to the lack of motivation. Remember that not all people lead by “fun” like Shaq and Lebron, some lead by pushing you to do better like Kobe, MJ and CP3

    It may also help your argument if you could provide some support for your argument, after all “Haters Gonna Hate!” even if there is no reason to.

  12. RR ..just cause you dont agree with me doenst mean I dont have a right to say it…you are not god

    ___

    You are missing the point. You have the right to say whatever you want, here or elsewhere, depending in the case of this site on what Darius thinks about it. But it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to come to a Lakers site right now and bag on Kobe–unless you are just trolling. People here know that Kobe has issues and flaws; I criticized his D as much as anyone this past year. But if you were actually wanted a discussion about it, you would realize that Shaq, Bynum, and Howard are not exactly low-ego easygoing guys either and recognize that many people are at fault for the Lakers being where they are: Stern, Buss, Brown, MDA, Mitch, Kobe, Howard, Pau, Nash–there is plenty of blame to go around. Since you are not interested in discussion, and just want to bag on Kobe, there is really no reason for you to hang out here. There are plenty of message boards for the kind of stuff that you are posting.

    But sure, you have the right to say it here, as long as Darius says it’s OK.

  13. As to Hill, I think he will have some decent numbers, but the problem with him is that he is not that great on D–he hustles, but he doesn’t jump all that well and his arms are kind of short. Also, his board-crashing has many plusses, but the Lakers transition D was compromised by it at times last year hwen he was on the floor, according to the numbers.

  14. Reading comprehension is at an all time low, it seems. Kobe said that his negotiating position would be that he wouldn’t take a pay cut and that he’d try to get as much money as he could. That’s not him drawing a line in the sand, it’s him openly stating what his *negotiating position* will be. It’s also not the answer many would have liked to have heard. But, as I said yesterday on twitter, it’s a bit early in the process for any discussion about what Kobe will or won’t do a full year from now when his contract expires. No one knows how well he’ll play coming off his surgery, how well the team will play, what free agents opt out of their contracts to make themselves available, or many other variables that will influence the market. So, while it’s fun to debate back and forth, understand you’re debating a hypothetical, not something that’s actually happening/happened. Jeez.

  15. And let’s calm down with the “Kobe won’t take a pay cut” stuff. Interviews don’t indicate that at all. One comment is being emphasised without any attention being given to stuff that would suggest he’s more than willing, and understands that it will be necessary.

  16. re: jordan hill d, i don’t think you need to be all that fast or jump all that high to be a good post defender. marc gasol just won dpoy, after all. we just need to have a good system in place, and bigs w/ decent defensive instincts and in enough shape to execute the plan. i think jordan hill at least has the potential to be a decent defensive player.

    what we’re really missing at the moment is perimeter defensive speed. and there aren’t any answers for that currently.

  17. I am not bagging on Hill; he is an OK player overall. But I think some folks need to just deal with the basic reality that the Lakers were a bad defensive team overall with Howard on the team, were barely average with him on the floor, and were really, really bad with him off it.

    And, as noted, the Lakers have done nothing from a personnel standpoint about the perimeter defense.

  18. Re Hill:
    I have heard the Lakeres are actively shopping him, Pau, and Nash

    Re Kobe:
    I agree as usual with Darius. Kobe wants to gain the most leverage (and move the center as much as possible) however he will have almost zero leverage. He will be coming off of what usually is a career ending injury and will be 36 years old. The only teams that will have the money to offer him for than the MLE will be bad teams that Kobe won’t want to play for anyways. Basically…Kobe won’t have many options. In the end the Lakers can make a heart breaking take it or leave it offer Kobe will be forced to take if he wants to keep playing for championships. I am pretty sure he will take it and then lie and change the narrative to “I did what I needed to do to help the Lakers bring in three max players. As Eric Pincus pointed out anyways the Lakers could sign him for the min and then the next year max him out if they wanted to in order to give Kobe the money he desserves for all the money he has made the Lakers the last 15 years.

  19. I think overall on defense as a team we’re going to struggle so long as the ‘core’ remains Kobe + Pau + Nash as that is just an older group without much ‘team speed’ to compensate for a lack of a defensive backstop/anchor. With Howard gone, we’ll just have to live with it for time being and hopefully just try to obtain one through trade or FA.

  20. rr,
    anti-Kobe `schadenfreude´ ! hahaha, great wording
    ______
    I like J. Hill, hope he´ll be here this coming season –
    & it´s good to have Farmar back, maybe Dave Murphy´s right and Mitch is rustling up some of the old gang, for team cohesion and unity? I´m all for that, for whatever it´ll be worth in the standings..

  21. Darius Tweeting about the good OFF/DEF numbers with Pau and Hill on the floor. Hill and Howard were a problem, since they both crashed the boards very hard, making the transition D even worse and sicne neither of them has much range. Darius notes that it is a small sample.

    This goes back to my dead dream of the two-star platoon system that I talked about last season;

    NASH/MEEKS/METTA/JAMISON/HOWARD
    BLAKE/KOBE/EBANKS-METTA/PAU/HILL

    My guess is that those 10 guys were all healthy at the same time maybe 5 times last year, but MDA would not have done it in any case.

  22. the other Stephen July 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    haha…nick young to the lakers. well, at least there’s a connection between him and farmar.

  23. So…..a Trojan is now coming home to the Purple and Gold for the minimum. We shall see if it is indeed a cunning coup or……a blunder.

  24. super excited to have Nick young on the team – thought they needed to get him last year but now we may actually have a much more rounded team than we all expected.

    Now we only need a single SF and our roster is set.

    Happy Day for us

  25. If we could get Odom – id be much happier with this team than last years roster.

  26. rr: “but MDA would not have done it in any case” You have now fully crossed over to the dark side : )
    Kobe: “sign him for min and then the next year max him out” Is that legal? If it is, I bet the rule would change immediately if we did that. You could stockpile quite a team doing that. Sign everyone at min and the next year you are the Yankees.
    Purple: “for team cohesion and unity” Well – I guess I am in favor of this as well, but wow – the saying is – a day late and a dollar short. This is like 2 years late and $20-$30 million short.

  27. Nick Young to the Lakers. There is a running joke on the Daily Dime Live Chat on how little he passes the ball. Hope he helps the team.

  28. Off topic- sorry:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/chicago-bulls-dwight-howard-bolting-l-puts-end-193400669.html

    I’ve always thought any comparison to MJ is simply premature…but this article, wow…and wow? SMH

  29. Well Nick Young is on board,pretty nice addition,paint me too optimistic but the team is turning out ok with our core healthy we could do something, bring LO back and our bench looks all right

  30. “A better yard stick of Kobe’s leadership ability would be to see how countless players have had career years playing alongside him only to leave the Lakers for a better paycheck and then slowly drift into anonymity once their stats taper down (Machine, Farmar, Ariza, Smush, Shannon Brown, etc. Why is that? Because Kobe pushed this guys to be better on the court during games and at practice.”

    That wasn’t Kobe – that was all Phil, the master of getting the most out of role players.

  31. I don’t know, whoever thinks Kobe is going to accept the vet min or mid level exception is absolutely crazy. Kobe stated his negotiating position i doubt he is going to get 30 million again not even close. I think they are going to negotiate and get into a happy medium in the 10-15 mill range for 1 or 2 seasons all of that depends on how he performs when he comes back. Kobe don’t own anyone anything he brought 5 championships to the Lakers and made them hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s too far in the horizon to even worry about it at this point.

  32. Gene clearly you never read any books on negotiating. Of course he will take less but would be silly to announce that to the public. The max contract he could even get with the new CBA is in the $ 20 range and he of course knows that.

  33. I can see the bench group developing here and it could be interesting. Waiting to see what happens with Pau, Nash, Metta, and Blake. If they stay, I think the team still has a chance to upset some apple carts here and there.

    With regards to Hill, he exemplifies to me the promise and the risk of the draft. Lakers could tank and still draft a guy that busts. No guarantee of anything but the opportunity. Picks like Magic and Kobe are few and far between.

    Now, if Hill came around and truly turned into a significant contributor, that would be such a bonus for the team, almost as if the Lakers had a lottery pick that year. Sometimes big men do take time to develop, so here’s hoping.

  34. Hill & Howard’s games clashed, but Hill & Pau would seem to compliment each other. Also, Hill will provide a good compliment to Kaman. Kelly will not work as well with either Pau or Kaman, but you can’t have everything. I am less concerned about our front line than I was a week ago, when Howard decided he couldn’t take the heat and chose another kitchen.

    I too wouldn’t mind our signing Lamar for the minimum and teaming him with Pau or Kaman.

    I think Farmar and Young are ok signings and get us to 13 players, if we include our draft pick. They can score and Farmar has a chance to stay in front of his man and distribute the rock. I think the 2nd team will probably be noticeably better than last year’s model.