Kobe Bryant isn’t the only Los Angeles Laker who thinks the team will be a lot better than the so-called experts predict. Teammate Jordan Hill says the Lakers, despite losing out on free agent center Dwight Howard, can still be an elite team in the brutally tough West next season. Per the LA Daily News: “Kobe Bryant immediately bristled at it. Nick Young found the evaluation ‘disrespectful.’ Considering the Lakers still boast Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash, Lakers forward Jordan Hill also said he was ‘shocked’ and ‘couldn’t believe it’ when the ranking released. What else do you expect a team to say that’s used to winning championships? Well for Hill, that’s proclaiming something that falls short of championship aspirations but still above the general public’s expectations. ‘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, I’m not sure,’ 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.’”