Jordan Hill's Summer Assignment: Become A Stretch 4
By Dave McMenamin
Jordan Hill missed nearly two-thirds of the Los Angeles Lakers' 2012-13 season, 53 games to be exact, mostly because of his back and hip. But Hill also was absent from other games when the 6-foot-10, 235-pound energy force simply wasn’t given a chance.
While Hill was unable to go for a significant portion of the schedule because of a herniated disk in his lower back and surgery on his left hip, what about those three consecutive games in December when he didn’t play even though he was perfectly healthy?
This hardly received the same attention as when coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t play Antawn Jamison for seven straight games later in the season and Jamison spoke up about it. Hill, who would tie Steve Nash for the unofficial but all-important Most Supportive Teammate award, kept quiet.
When the season was over, however, Hill asked D’Antoni -- who coached the player in New York before the No. 8 pick was shipped out of town just months into his rookie season -- what he needed to do to stay on the floor next season.
“He talked about what I need to work on for this coming summer,” Hill told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “My jump shot -- he definitely wanted me to work on my outside jumper.”
The experiment to turn Pau Gasol into an outside-oriented big man blew up in D’Antoni’s face last season. But in Hill, who has played eight fewer seasons in the league than Gasol, the coach found a much more malleable subject.
“That’s mostly what I’ve been focusing on this whole summer, not so much the post work because I know I can go down to the block and easily get an offensive rebound and putback,” said Hill, who ranked sixth in the NBA last season in rebounds per 36 minutes (among players who played 25 games or more), according to BasketballReference.com. “We got Pau Gasol that can focus on the paint and we got Chris Kaman that can focus on the block. So I just want to be a stretch 4. Just try to spread the floor a little bit, just show a little range. I’ve been working on it the whole summer, trying to focus on that, on my 3-ball. It got a lot better. I’m just ready to put it all together and showcase it.”
Hill, who shot 61.8 percent inside of 5 feet last season en route to a career-high 6.7 points per game average, did not fare as well the farther away from the basket he went. According to NBA.com Stats Cube, Hill shot 35.7 percent from 5-9 feet last season and 30.8 percent from 15-19 feet. And he missed the only two 3-point shots he attempted (in fact, he’s 0-for-9 on 3s for his career). However, there was signs of promise. He shot 50 percent from 10-14 feet and 42.9 percent from 20-24 feet, but the opportunities were limited (fewer than 10 attempts during the season from each of those spots).
"I’m just trying to do a variety of stuff that will help me spread the floor and get great shots," Hill said.
The location of Hill’s offseason home is helping his outside improvement. It just so happens that Hill spends his summers in Atlanta, the same place as teammate Jodie Meeks. The sharpshooting Meeks, who was third on the Lakers last season with 122 made 3s (behind Metta World Peace’s 141 and Kobe Bryant’s 132), doesn’t necessarily coach Hill’s shot, but he does motivate Hill.
“Jodie’s not him telling me I need to follow through, but we always have competition shooting,” Hill said. “He’s definitely going to win a lot, but I’ve definitely won a couple. So when I do competition shooting with him and I win, I get the confidence that, ‘OK, my shot’s falling now. I can shoot better now.’”
The key to survival is adaptation. Hill is trying not only to carve out a niche within D’Antoni’s system but also to expand his game in hopes of extending his career.
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Not really a surprise since that's what D'Antoni has been wanting for his offense. Hill doesn't have a post game. Mind as well work on that. Channing Frye is a big who doesn't have a post game. Wasn't known for his 3 point shooting while playing in New York until he went to the Suns. Maybe it can be the same for Hill.
Edited by LALakersFan4Life, August 21, 2013 - 01:11 PM.