Why the Jordan Hill-Pau Gasol Frontcourt Works for the Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni was forced to insert Jordan Hill into the team's starting lineup after an embarrassing loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on November 10 in which the purple and gold surrendered 47 points in the first quarter.

Two nights later Hill started against the New Orleans Pelicans and, in 26 minutes, scored 21 points on 7-12 shooting (7-8 free throws), had 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot. The Lakers won that game by 21 points.  Pau Gasol added 14 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes and a new frontcourt was born.

The 6-10 Hill has always been an aggressive rebounder who brings tremendous energy to every game he plays.  In Gasol, he has the perfect complementary piece in a frontcourt that easily trumps the Gasol-Chris Kaman experiment which, thus far, has proved to be a major flop.

While Gasol, just now rounding into shape after a summer of surgery and rehab, relishes his role as the everyday center, the 33-year-old Spaniard is just not strong enough to handle the big post players who dot NBA rosters these days.  And Kaman, the 31-year-old former All-Star center who has been sidelined with back issues, is not the type of player who will grab those tough rebounds on either end of the court.

Kaman and Gasol have similar games and are offensive-minded centers who don't really complement each other.  In Hill, the Lakers have a guy who battles for every ball and has become one of the top rebounding forwards in the NBA on a minute-for-minute basis. After getting battered by Kevin Love and the T-Wolves, D'Antoni knew he had to make a change and inserted Hill in ahead of Kaman and moved forward Nick Young to the bench as well.

Hill told ESPNLA's Dave McMenamin prior to that first start against New Orleans: "I love playing with Pau. I'll definitely keep my eyes open and expect a pass from him.  He's a great rebounder (als...

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