In only five days, Lakers coach Byron Scott will reflect on a frustrating 2014-15 season with each player and offer his honest feedback surrounding their production.
Once Jordan Hill has that conversation, he will hear something that has plagued him through nearly 3 1/2 seasons with the Lakers. Scott will inform him that he will need to change his offseason preparation so that he can avoid crashing and-burning because of depleting energy levels.
“I don’t think he did that this summer to get ready for this season,” Scott said. “He’s got to train like he’s going to play for 48 minutes every single night. If you train that way and the summer time you go into the season, that energy can stay up for a longer period of time.”
The 27-year-old Hill still posted career-highs this season in points (11.9), rebounds (eight) and minutes played (26.8) in his sixth NBA season. But Hill’s numbers steadily decreased in February (10.8 points on 38.6 percent shooting and 6.4 rebounds) and April (four points on 29.4 percent shooting and 3.7 rebounds) amid an overreliance on his mid-range jumper. Scott actually encouraged Hill to expand his game that way, but the Lakers coach believed Hill’s increased playing time prompted him to settle for jumpers while fighting fatigue.
Hill went through similar issues last season despite posting previous career-highs in points (9.7), rebounds (7.4) and minutes played (20.8). While Hill became frustrated with both his fluctuating role and the fast-paced system under former Lakers coach Mike D’ANtoni, the Lakers became frustrated with Hill’s inconsistency. Hill has since said he made several lifestyle changes, including abstaining from alcohol completely. But earlier this season, Hill conceded he has struggled embracing the team’s encouragement to eat grass-fed food, an initiative led by strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco.
Uncertainty lingers if the Lakers will exercise Hill’s team option worth $9 million to bring him back for the 2015-16 season. But if he does, Scott maintained confidence Hill “could be the guy we had the first month” when he posted 13.9 points at a 48.1 percent clip and 9.7 rebounds in 32.3 minutes in November. So long as Hill changes how he prepares this summer.
“I don’t know what he does in the summer time to get ready for the season,” Scott said. “But whatever it is, you have to up it. He’s got to up it. Then you have to look at what he’s eating and change eating habits as well. There’s a lot that goes into it when you’re trying to get ready for the NBA season.”
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