The acquisitions of Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison may have overshadowed Jordan Hill'sdecision to remain a Laker, but the big man sticking around was nonetheless a very important development. Beyond the rebounding and shot blocking provided by Hill off the bench, he's also a legitimate option to back up Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. The last few seasons have demonstrated the importance of limiting minutes for the starting frontcourt as much as possible, but also the difficulty in realizing that mission. Hill on board is a big step toward keeping Pau and Drew healthy and fresh throughout the season. Plus, the ability to re-sign Hill using his Bird Rights allowed the Lakers to keep their mini mid-level intact, creating more flexibility to continue building the team.
No doubt, Hill is a raw player in need of refinement, but he's likely better than anybody the Lakers could have signed as the primary reserve big man. He should play an important role next season.
We spoke Tuesday with Hill for around 15 minutes. The PodKast can be heard by clicking on the module, and below is a list of talking points:
- (1:00):Hill recounts his late arrival with the Lakers last season and how he stayed ready for his eventual "shot," which came during a double overtime victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center. Without making good on that chance, Hill doubts he would have ever entered the rotation for the playoffs.
- (5:10):The Lakers provided Hill with his first taste of playoff basketball, much less teammates the caliber of Kobe Bryant, Gasol and Bynum, or the type of prestige accompanying this particular franchise. That made it tough to leave, even with more lucrative offers and/or larger roles available elsewhere.
- (7:16): Like any basketball player with the ability to roll to the basket, Hill is excited at the prospect of playing alongside Nash.
- (8:20):Already a bona-fide journeyman heading into his fourth season, the odds heavily favor Hill being a bench player the next two seasons. In the eyes of many, this will further the perception of Hill not living up to the expectations of being picked eighth overall in 2009. He knows, and doesn't care.
- (10:15): Hill explains what's expected from him as one of the few youngsters in the rotation.
- (11:51): Kwame Brown, Ronny Turiaf, and Josh Powellhave created a recent tradition for Lakers big men, one that Hill unfortunately cannot keep alive (but with very good reason).