COMMENTARY | Steve Nash and Antawn Jamison have the marquee names, but when it comes to obtaining exactly what the Los Angeles Lakers need this offseason, Jordan Hill could be the player that makes the biggest difference for a team on the cusp of winning a championship after he signed a two-year deal to remain a member of the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.
He proved he can get the job done with flashes of stellar play late in the regular season. Most notably, he recorded a clutch 14 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks in a signature win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on April 22, 2012. He parlayed that into a moderately successful playoff series against the Denver Nuggets. Though he looked out of sorts at times as his team's newest addition, the potential to contribute in a big way is there.
After the dust of the "Dwightmare" settles and the Lakers have either the best or second-best center in the league on their roster at the start of the 2012-2013 season, the team that looked overmatched and lethargic at times will be much more athletic and energetic off the bench for the duration of an entire season barring an injury to its newest free agent.
That's because Hill brings precisely what the Lakers were missing for most of the regular season -- energy, youth, and athleticism off the bench. He's not going to score prolifically, but he'll create second chance points and make the shooters around him better. He'll do the dirty work, and enjoy every minute of it.
General manager Mitch Kupchak is smart, and he's proven why time and time again. He understands what it takes to construct a championship roster. He's done it many times. It takes an intelligent, basketball-savvy mind free of emotionally clouded decision-making to run an NBA franchise. He's the reason why the Lakers have gotten leaps and bounds better than they were last year without signing Dwight Howard.
Nash and Jamison will be incredible additions to this Lakers team and have the motivation and talent to help Kobe Bryant win a sixth ring. But it's the Jordan Hills of the world that championship teams need to get over the hump. Expect Hill to grow by leaps and bounds with a full training camp underneath his belt.
Once he has that, he'll display all of the confidence that comes with knowing he's a key part of the rotation on a championship caliber team.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA. He has written for Southern California's Press-Enterprise and Examiner.com. For more insight, you can follow Michael on Twitter.