The job description Mike D’Antoni provided for Jordan Hill represents a perfect case study on both a player’s evolution and a coach’s perception of him.
Four years ago, D’Antoni found so little use for Hill as the New York Knicks’ eighth overall draft pick that he hardly played his rookie season before getting shipped to the Houston Rockets. Nearly a year ago, D’Antoni sat Hill for three consecutive games because he saw no value in how he’d fit into a offense predicated on outside shooters until his endlessly valuable and defense convinced him otherwise. During this offseason, both D’Antoni and Kobe Bryant both instructed Hill to work on his mid-range game, an order the Lakers forward took to heart by taking between 600-700 shots per day at his Atlanta residence.
D’Antoni remains undecided whether Hill will start at power forward alongside Pau Gasol or if he will come off the bench. But D’Antoni remains adamant that Hill can become an effective mid-range shooter without diluting his effectiveness as an energy player in rebounding and on defense.
“One doesn’t mean he can’t do the other,” D’Antoni said. “If you’re shooting it, you’re not getting the rebound. When he’s not shooting it, he’ll get the rebound. It’ll just make him a better player.”