One of the continuing battles to watch during the Los Angeles Lakers‘ preseason games and practices will be who emerges as the front court starter next to Pau Gasol. This battle could also rage on well into the regular season, yet Jordan Hill clearly is the best fit to be the Lakers starter at Power Forward, and hopefully Mike D’Antoni can figure that out sooner rather than later. Hill’s strongest competitor is in Chris Kaman, and he has started three preseason games next to Gasol so far, giving Kaman what appears to be a major lead in the race to be the starting forward. If it continues to play out this way with Kaman starting, this may well be another mistake notched on coach MDA’s belt.
Gasol’s defense is at best poor, and the slow footed Kaman does nothing to fix this situation. Hill is clearly the Ying to Pau’s Yang. He is a high energy, athletically gifted player who most have forgotten was drafted eighth overall by the New York Knicks only a few short years ago in the 2009 NBA draft, and he was drafted that high for a reason, averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds a game at Arizona. Hill has seen his fair share of ups and downs fighting for minutes and struggling through injury — he suffered a severe injury to his hip and missed a major amount of time last season — but the games he played in, he played well. Hill rebounds well on both ends of the court and will offer a tough defensive presence, greatly benefiting the defensively inept Lakers starting squad. Kaman would then be able to use his offensive skills to help add a scoring presence to the second unit, an area the Lakers struggled in last year.
Hopefully coach MDA figures this out sooner than later.