Los Angeles Lakers: backup

PodKast: Jordan Hill on staying in L.A., his role and braids vs. dreads

August, 1, 2012
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
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:

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- (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).

The Forum: Grade the offseason

July, 26, 2012
By The Kamenetzky brothers
The Lakers traded for Steve Nash, then respectively signed and re-signed Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill via free agency. With July about to close, how would you grade the offseason thus far? We offer our marks.video

SPL, Christian Eyenga and the backup 2-guard

July, 24, 2012
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
I got a chance Monday to watch a DVR playback of Thursday's Summer Pro League action between the Lakers and Clippers. The purple and gold took the game 75-69, their lone victory during an exceptionally unkind Vegas stay. (Losses by 40 and 50? Yeesh!) While watching, various observations surfaced. Darius Morris, for example, definitely looked the 217 muscular pounds Dave McMenamin recently reported, and despite a shaky jumper, extremely confident running the show. Robert "Mr. Irrelevant" Sacre's offensive game leaves much to be desired, but the seven-footer made good use of an NBA-ready body. And it was nice to see former Laker Adam Morrison, two years removed from an NBA job, continue his fantastic Summer League roll with 22 points on eight-of-13 shooting. (Beyond swishing baskets, the guy moved as well as I've seen since his rookie season featuring two good knees.)

Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/ Getty Images
Hopefully, what happened most recently in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas.

But the player who stood out most was Christian Eyenga, in part because of the numbers (22 points on 10-for-15 shooting, plus a pair of rebounds and steals), but also the way he played. For "projects" young, bouncy and commonly regarded as small forwards, expectations don't often extend much beyond dunks and athleticism. And Eyenga certainly delivered along those lines. A first half tomahawk was one-upped in the second half by a two-handed throw-down created off the dribble. He also stayed in front of Eric Bledsoe after the speedy Clippers point stole a terrible pass from Morris, then forced a jump ball. Again, everything expected from a ridiculous athlete.

However, Eyenga didn't just perform feats out of The Matrix. Jump shots were actually drained. From the elbow extended coming off a screen... A step-back between the circles... A catch-and-shoot with his foot on the three-point line... A self-created triple working (very) high pick-and-roll with Sacre. His handle was utilized while driving lefty across the lane, with a foul eventually drawn. No assist was recorded, but nice court vision was displayed while feeding Morris on the run for an eventual up-and-under layup. And while it's often tough to gauge what constitutes "set plays" during SPL, Eyenga appeared on several possessions to be helping initiate the offense.

In other words, he operated like an actual two-guard, rather than a two-guard-in-name-only starting alongside Morris.

Like all things SPL, this performance must be ingested with a grain of salt, and not simply because of the diluted competition. For example, Eyenga, who went a whopping 1-for-11 from deep over five games, shot above 31 percent overall in just two. I admittedly saw just scattered bits of the other four games, but if they featured the same emphasis on hitting shots from beyond point blank, it's safe to conclude his jumper isn't quite ready to be labeled "automatic." He also recorded just one assist in Vegas, meaning his play-making skills likely also need refinement.

Nonetheless, Eyenga got me thinking about the spot in the rotation behind Kobe Bryant, along with the last guy assigned that gig on a regular basis: Shannon Brown.

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Kobe Bryant
26.4 4.1 1.2 35.7
ReboundsJ. Hill 9.8
AssistsJ. Lin 4.9
StealsR. Price 1.3
BlocksE. Davis 1.5