Los Angeles Lakers Player Grades: Jordan Hill

Andre Khatchaturian —  May 10, 2014

General Thoughts on Player:

The buzzer sounded at the Bradley Center on a chilly spring Milwaukee night and the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves on the losing end once again in a season that just didn’t end quickly enough. The 16-time NBA champions had just been swept in a season series against the Milwaukee Bucks. This pretty much summed up the Lakers woeful season, who have lost to the bad and been crushed by the best throughout the season. It was difficult to find many positives after a season like this that was riddled with countless injuries, but walking out of the locker room in Milwaukee was Jordan Hill, one of the few silver linings in the Lakers dismal 2013-14 season.

Hill scored 28 points and grabbed 16 rebounds that night in just 31 minutes. He made 13 of his 17 field goal attempts. Nine of his 16 rebounds were of the offensive variety. These type of numbers weren’t an anomaly either. Hill continuously showed this season how efficient he can be…when he got playing time.

The big man with dreadlocks missed almost a month due to injury, but that’s not the only reason why he wasn’t on the floor throughout most of the season. Hill played in 72 games but only averaged close to 20 minutes per game despite playing very well in limited playing time. His per 36 numbers were highly efficient — 16.7 points and 12.8 rebounds. For whatever reason, Mike D’Antoni would not play him the minutes that Hill deserved despite all the injuries the team had until April – when Hill finally got playing time and delivered.

Throughout March and April, Hill averaged over 27 minutes per game – well above his season average. April was his most productive month as he averaged 29 minutes and scored 16.6 points and grabbed 10.1 rebounds per game. When Hill got his minutes, he averaged a double double, but for whatever reason, Mike D’Antoni did not start playing him much until later in the season.

That night in Milwaukee was the beginning of Hill’s rise in the end of the season. His Per 36 numbers were always solid, but we hadn’t seen if it would actually translate to real stats if he did get playing time. Hill was successful in doing so on a horrendous team and for this reason, there is no doubt his price will go up in the offseason.

Strengths and Weaknesses:

Hill has limitations. He’s not the next Dwight Howard or Roy Hibbert. Defensively he’s not the greatest player in the world and this is evidenced by his defensive rating of 108.2. That said, this could have been a product of the system he played in, which didn’t stress defense at all as demonstrated by the 16 consecutive games they allowed 100 or more points from early January until February. Hill did average close to two blocks per game in April, when he got his most playing time.

Defensive deficiencies or not, Hill is a guy that the Lakers need to try to retain in the offseason. He only made $3.5 million this year and he’s a high energy player the Lakers could sign for a couple of years for a good price. His rebounding abilities and constant energy are reason enough for the team to bring him back.

Just think about it for a second. Hill was subjected to awful minutes by D’Antoni this year. Shawne Williams and Ryan Kelly averaged more minutes than Hill. If a player is producing and not getting minutes there’s no doubt that this could lead to frustration. The fact that Hill still played hard and produced despite not getting the minutes he deserved is a testament to his character and focus.

Hill’s biggest strength of course comes on the glass. He grabs a lot of rebounds but what makes him valuable is that he grabs a high percentage of available rebounds. He grabbed 13.9 percent of all available offensive rebounds which was sixth best in the league and as every NBA stat geek knows, offensive rebounds are extremely important because they give a team more possessions to score.

It’ll be interesting to see if this would keep up if Hill had a central role on a winning team. Guesses are that he can easily be a high energy guy off the bench and average 25-30 minutes per game. With D’Antoni out of the picture, perhaps Hill will be more inclined to stay in LA, but there’s no doubt that there will be teams courting him.

Most Memorable Moment:

From the aforementioned Bucks game, Jordan Hill grabs a rebound and takes three players up with him for the dunk. It’s a perfect example of his hard work, determination, physicality, and athleticism.

Overall Grade:

Hard work and determination, especially when you play for one of the worst teams in the NBA, should always be noted. When that hard work also translates to production, it turns into value.

Hill has value and he deserves to play somewhere next year where he won’t be getting the second fewest minutes on his team from guys who played at least half the season. Sure, he didn’t fit D’Antoni’s system, but he kept his mouth shut and was a good soldier. When he did play, he provided energy and a great spark.

His defense could use plenty of improvement, but perhaps a new coaching system will change that.

Grade: A-

Andre Khatchaturian