How Much Pressure Does Jordan Hill’s Back Injury Put on Dwight Howard for L.A.?

If the Los Angeles Lakers had any plans of easing Dwight Howard into action with limited minutes early on, those plans just got a bit more complicated.

That's not to say it won't happen, but head coach Mike Brown won't find it quite as easy to sit Howard for long stretches with big man Jordan Hill's status now in question (via the Orange County Register's Kevin Ding):

Bad news for Lakers bench. Jordan Hill has herniated disk in his back. Will be re-evaluated in a week.

— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) October 9, 2012 It's still unclear what the injury means for Hill's availability, but we can safely assume it won't mean anything good.

At first glance, Hill's absence might not seem like a big deal. When compared to the other names on this roster, his doesn't stand out. The 25-year-old saw limited action with the Lakers after being acquired from the Houston Rockets, averaging under 12 minutes a game behind Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

Nevertheless, Hill's more important than meets the eye.

There's a reason GM Mitch Kupchak was willing to give the little-used post presence $8 million over the course of two years. Even with Antawn Jamison and a deeper all-around roster, Hill brings a nice combination of size and explosiveness to the table, ensuring the league's best frontcourt 4-5 tandem actually has a solid understudy.

The 6'10" forward-center's ability to spell both Howard and Gasol made him especially valuable, allowing Mike Brown to either spread the floor with Antawn Jamison at power forward or maintain his size advantage with Hill.

More than any kind of production, the Los Angeles Times' Mark Medina explains how Hill's absence could impact the rotation:

Howard isn't going to suddenly expedite his rehab process because of this. The Lakers have maintained he's only returning once he's fully healthy. Still, the Lakers expressed little concer...

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