Lakers’ F/C Jordan Hill, 25, has been one of the most exciting Lakers to watch over the past year. Acquired by the Lakers last year at the NBA trade deadline, Hill has exceeded expectations in Los Angeles.
This past Friday, however, Hill received some devastating news regarding the hip injury he suffered in the Lakers’ loss to the Nuggets on January 6th.
The Lakers’ most consistent reserve player will miss the remainder of the season with “loose bone fragments in his hip, in addition to a possible labral tear.”
His contribution off the bench has been one of the most consistent things the Lakers have looked forward to, night in and night out. Unfortunately now, the Lakers will be forced to make a push towards the playoffs without their key role player.
After the Lakers’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and after the team had received the discouraging news, Hill had this to say:
“I feel like I let down the team,” said Hill. “I let down the fans.”
Hill, the 8th overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, had been having a career year this season. Hill, one of the few bright spots to this otherwise dismal season, had one of the highest total rebounds per game per 36 minutes at 13.0. In comparison, starting center Dwight Howard only has a 12.5 rpg per 36 minutes average this season.
The Lakers will dearly miss Hill’s ability to keep possessions alive and as well as create extra possessions with his offensive rebounding ability. Hill had an exceptional average of 6.4 offensive rebounds per game per 36 minutes this season.
Hill also described how the injury had happened in the game against Denver:
“Andre Miller drove baseline and Kobe [Bryant], trying to go back and guard him, he accidentally stepped on my foot,” he said. “I stayed in one spot but my hip kept going. It kind of pulled the joint out.”
Unfortunately for both Hill and the Lakers, Hill will definitely need surgery to repair the fragments and prepare his hip for next season:
“I definitely need surgery. It’s definitely mandatory,” said the Lakers forward/center. “I have fragments floating around that need to be out.”
Along with the disappointment surrounding the surgery, the recovery time is not as promising as Lakers fans would like:
“They say about six months, so I have no idea,” said Hill. “I’m just going to see how it turns out.”
Despite this estimated timetable, Hill is expected to get a second opinion to see if he can speed up the recovery time.
Just as his constant energy and effort have become contagious for the Lakers over the past year, Hill remains disappointed he is unable to be out on the court with his teammates and bring those intangibles on a nightly basis:
“I’m a competitor. I take pride in going out there to help my team out,” said Hill. “I’ve probably never missed more than five or four games. Just knowing that I’m never going to return, it definitely hit me. It definitely was a shock.”
With this season still on an up-and-down rollercoaster, the Lakers will receive no comfort knowing their most consistent big man is out for the season. Lakers’ point guard Steve Nash summed up the situation perfectly:
“I’m really, really disappointed for Jordan,” said Nash. “He was one of the bright spots. I thought he was finding a really nice niche with the offense and his energy on the boards and on defense is always going to be great for our depth. It’s another big blow in a season of blows.”
After a 113-93 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, to end a six-game losing streak, you can rest assured the Lakers are doing everything possible to climb out of this early season hole. Hill’s contributions off the bench will be dearly missed this season, but his teammate, Earl Clark, seems to have gotten the message that someone must pick up the slack.
With any championship-aspiring team, when one player goes down with injury, another player must pick them up in their absence. Over the past three games, Clark has shown the ability to fill in nicely for Hill, a welcomed sight especially with PF Pau Gasol still out with a concussion.
As the season wears on, the Lakers will continue to need other players to step up in Hill’s absence. Not only will the Lakers miss Hill’s rebounding ability, but Hill was also one of the more athletic Laker. This older Lakers team lacks an abundance of athleticism, so without Hill in the lineup, they will especially lose athleticism on the interior.
Hill’s improved mid-range shooting ability is also something the Lakers will miss. Hill dramatically improved his shooting stroke this season; he even increased his range to about 15-18 feet. His ability to make opposing post defenders respect his mid-range jumper was something that helped free Gasol and Howard from double teams inside.
It’s a real shame the Lakers, and Hill himself, won’t be able to fully appreciate the fruits of his labor. Hill has put in a lot of work this season and it had shown over the first 32 games he was healthy.
For the Lakers, Hill is a long-term investment, as shown by his two-year extension this past off-season. Once Hill recovers from hip surgery, he should continue to improve his game as well as work himself into one of the best rebounding big men in the NBA.
In the meantime, however, you can rest assured the Lakers’ most consistent player, Jordan Hill, will continue to bring his constant energy and effort this season; only this time it will be from the sidelines.