Jordan Hill Forcing His Way into Los Angeles Lakers’ Long-Term Plans

For the second consecutive season, Los Angeles Lakers big man Jordan Hill is enjoying a breakout year.

But this one has more substance. More production, too. He isn't simply turning heads; he's turning corners.

And by the time this campaign has come to an end, he will have played his way into a long-term future with the purple and gold.

To say that no one saw this coming would be false, but the number of those who had a hunch could probably be counted on one hand.

Fortunately, new Lakers head coach Byron Scott was among the few still standing in the former lottery pick's corner. Hill's career per-game averages entering this season were only 6.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. During training camp, Scott said he expected Hill to push both categories to double digits, per Lakers Nation's Serena Winters:

Maybe Scott felt confident in Hill's previous per-36-minute production. The 6'10" bruiser had averaged at least 12 points and 10 boards per 36 minutes in four of his first five seasons.

But the sustainability of those stats was hard to gauge because the sample size had always been small. Last season was the first in which Hill topped the 16-minute mark, and even then, he only logged 20.8 a night in former coach Mike D'Antoni's ill-fitting, perimeter-based system.

Scott's confidence could have been legit, or it may have been forced out of him. After all, L.A.'s front office handed Hill a two-year, $18 million contract over the summer (team option for 2015-16). At $9 million per season, Scott needed Hill to be a double-double machine.

As Silver Screen and Roll's James Lamar explained, Hill didn't have to dominate, but he needed to at least be consistent:

Hill doesn't have to become the All-Star his fellow 2009 lottery mates have blossomed into. Players don't draft themselves, and sometimes player-team marriages just aren't meant to be. It's the risk-reward o...

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