Monday, January 13, 2014

Jordan Hill Continues to Improve His Game

Because I'm never finished ripping on Mike D'Antoni and his decision to not play Jordan Hill more than 20 minutes a game, I figured today would be a good day to dissect Jordan Hill's game and how Hill has improved from below average player, to leading the team in PER.

As we all know already, Hill is an extraordinary rebounder; he possesses the strength and fundamentals to successfully box out the NBA's best rebounding big men. It's no coincidence that Hill is averaging 13.5 rebounds per 36 minutes and currently has a 19.7% Total Rebound Percentage, making him 6th in the NBA behind Andre Drummond, DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bogut and DeMarcus Cousins. Hill isn't a very good defensive rebounder, only having a 23.1% Defensive Rebound Percentage, which does not rank within the Top-20, however Hill is an elite offensive rebounder, coming in 2nd on the Offensive Rebound Percentage with a whopping 16.3%, only behind Drummond. Hill has always been a great rebounding presence since joining the Lakers; this would be his lowest Total Rebound Percentage with the team, as he has had over 20% in both of the last two seasons with the Lakers. Hill would certainly help clean up the Lakers rebounding woes, seeing as how the team is dead last in opponent rebounding.

Defensively, he plays with energy and his rotations are usually on time; he isn't the biggest shot blocker though, only averaging 0.8 per game (1.3 per 36 minutes). He knows his limitations well, however, and won't over commit to the ball handler, thus not giving up rebounding position. He is second on the Lakers in Defensive Win Shares behind Pau Gasol, despite the lack of playing time and his Defensive Rating of 106 is 5th on the Lakers. Hill is a solid man-to-man defender as well, staying close with this defensive assignments and contesting as many shots as possible, though this has led to some foul trouble in the past. His foul troubles is his only knock, as he averages 4.3 fouls per 36 minutes.

Of course, what makes Hill so good is his vastly improved offense. Here's the shot charts for this year:

Hill's skill set does not go in line with D'Antoni's coaching game plan, as Hill isn't a very good shooter at all; he can't stretch the floor and is entirely an inside player. He is a very good finisher around the rim, shooting an above league average 61.78% at the rim; for reference, the NBA's three best centers, Dwight Howard, DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, all have a worse percentage at the rim than Hill. He is an excellent finisher in the pick and roll and is effective in this role; 80 of his 134 made shots have been assisted, the vast majority of those at the rim. The problem with Hill's offensive game being his ineffective jump shot, which limits him to only pick and rolls and not pick and pops, making him a bit easier to cover than, say, Pau Gasol, who can do both. Similarly, Hill isn't the type of player to carry your offense, and isn't a straight up isolation type player, though he has shown massive improvement in his back-to-the-basket game. Hill is shooting a combined 30 for 53 in hook shots, good for a 56.6%, which is elite level of efficiency.

When we couple his finishing ability with his incredible offensive rebounding numbers, we can see why Hill's Offensive Rating is easily the best on the Lakers at an astonishing 119. For reference, LeBron James, the NBA's best player, has an offensive rating of 122. This isn't to say Hill is on James' level, but he certainly gives the Lakers a major boost when he's on the court. As much as Mike D'Antoni wants to disagree, you can't look at the numbers and say otherwise.