ESPN recently upset a lot of Lakers fans and players with their prediction for the Lakers to be the 12th team in the West next season. Jordan Hill was no exception.
When Hill first heard the news of the prediction, he seemed shocked, and understandably so. According to Mark Medina, Hill thinks the Lakers can be a top three team in the Western Conference next season:
“We definitely could be in the top three in the West,” Hill recently said in a phone interview. “I don’t see why not. Kobe is making progress with his rehab [surrounding his left Achilles tendon]. I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes back at the beginning of the season or in training camp. I don’t know if he will. But I wouldn’t be surprised. I have faith in everything he can do. I believe in the Mamba. The sky’s the limit for him.”
“It’s going to be tough,” Hill said. “We don’t know when Kobe is going to come back. But I’m confident we can make some noise. We still have so many good pieces with Kobe, Pau, Nash, Kaman, a lot of good bench pieces. We can surprise some people and make some noise.”
As much as I hope Hill is true, I don’t think a top three seeding is all that realistic next season; the West is just too deep and the Lakers have too many questions regarding their playing style and, more importantly, their health.
However, if the Lakers can stay healthy, figure out a way to play defense consistently and Kobe Bryant can come back and play at the same level as he did before – or at least close to where he was at before he went down with the Achilles injury – then I think the Lakers could be a top six team in the West and then surprise some people in the playoffs. A lot of things have to go right for that to happen, though.