Board Cleaner Hill (Knee) To Play in Dallas

Atlanta Hawks v Los Angeles LakersLakers Injury Report sponsored by UCLA Health SystemJordan Hill first mentioned some soreness in his right knee during the preseason, and on Monday had an MRI exam on the area that revealed a bone bruise.

Such a bruise can be painful to deal with, but will not keep Hill off the court; the Lakers confirmed he will play in Tuesday evening’s game at Dallas.

Despite averaging only 14 minutes per game, Hill has been very useful off the bench, especially on the glass. In fact, Hill currently leads the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage (23.3 percent), while his teammate Pau Gasol is atop the NBA in defensive board percentage (38.3). Overall, they rank fourth and fifth in total rebound percentage (21.7 and 21.4).

According to @BSports, nine of Hill’s 13 offensive boards thus far have come in the fourth quarter, which easily leads the NBA. Hill is also hitting 73.3 percent of his shots, leading the NBA, in a small sample size off 11 makes in 15 attempts.

The question for Hill moving forward is how much time he can get on the court when Mike D’Antoni prefers playing him at center … which is also the preferred spot for Gasol (26 minutes per game, sure to go up) and Chris Kaman (16.5 minutes per game). Against Atlanta, Gasol played 27:41, Kaman 16:03 and Hill 13:36, with Shawne Williams playing 17:44 as the starting power forward and Wesley Johnson 20:56 at the backup 4 and 3. Hill did close the game alongside Gasol in the front court. D’Antoni has praised Hill’s effort and indicated he’d like to play him more minutes, but still generally prefers to utilize Williams and Johnson at the 4 to better space the floor with the threat of a three-point shot.

“The players will determine that, and the team will determine that,” D’Antoni said of his rotation. “As one group plays better, then we’ll do it. I don’t think we’re at that point where we can determine what’s the best yet.”

Or, in Gasol’s words: “We’re a deep roster and Mike is utilizing a lot of the guys. There’s different factors. I like Jordan (Hill) to get more minutes and Chris (Kaman) to get more minutes. Even though it might not be perfect for the system and spacing, (Hill’s) energy and effort makes up for a lot of things.”

Hill has kept it more simple, saying he’d clearly like to be on the floor as much as possible, and is going to play the same way no matter what. Meanwhile, he and the Lakers will knock on wood that Hill’s knee doesn’t become any more problematic, and the pain remains manageable.