The Los Angeles Lakers began the season with Pau Gasol as their starting center and Shawne Williams as their starting power forward. Williams is a very poor rebounder but can spread the floor as an outside shooter. He was very ineffective to begin the season and was replaced in the starting lineup by Chris Kaman who started at center which slid Gasol to his natural power forward position.
The move to Kaman helped out the rebounding issues, but having Gasol and Kaman on the floor at the same time did not work in the Mike D’Antoni style of offense. D’Antoni likes to run and has always had athletic big men like Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler and Dwight Howard.
After suffering back to back losses to the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans, the Lakers switched to Jordan Hill as their starting power forward. In his two games as a starter, Hill has averaged 19.5 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks per game. He has also shot 13-for-23 from the field and 13-for-14 from the free throw line. Hill has been a +11 in the two games and the Lakers are 1-1 with him in the lineup.
On Friday the Lakers play the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are a team that plays through their two big men in Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. The Lakers may be tempted to match the size of Memphis by inserting Kaman into the game more, but Hill may be the key to winning the game. Hill is a very athletic big man and could create a matchup problem for Randolph and Gasol who are both much slower. Memphis may be forced to match up with the Lakers’ lineup and play Ed Davis more than they usually do by keeping Gasol and Randolph on the bench.
If Hill can get off to a good start, Memphis will have to adjust their rotation and play a smaller, quicker lineup. Hill will also have to keep Randolph off the glass and out of the paint to force Memphis to make this adjustment. This is the style that the Lakers want to play, and it’s their only chance of beating Memphis.