Jordan Hill, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson, Shawne Williams

Clockwise, from top left: Lakers Jordan Hill, Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson and Shawn Williams are all former first-round picks considered busts with their former teams. (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images; Harry How / Getty Images; Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; Paul Buck / EPA / November 23, 2013)

They were four players everybody wanted, and then almost nobody did.

Jordan Hill was considered one of the mightiest power forwards in his draft … only to be nudged to the back of the big-man class in New York and Houston.

Xavier Henry was a brainy, knockdown shooter … who quickly figured he didn't have much of a future in Memphis or New Orleans.

Wesley Johnson was celebrated for his 7-foot-1 wingspan and 37-inch vertical leap … which produced underwhelming numbers in Minnesota and Phoenix.

Shawne Williams was a versatile talent … who found a variety of spots on the bench in Indiana, Dallas, New York and New Jersey, not to mention jail cells around the country.

All four players were selected in the first round of the draft. All were on at least their second stop by their third seasons. All were labeled busts by disenchanted fans.

Now they're generating raves as Lakers teammates.

Hill has registered double-doubles in three of five games since moving into the starting lineup. Henry was the star of an upset victory over the Clippers and later threw down what might be the dunk of the Lakers' season. Johnson and Williams have been important parts of a bench that leads the NBA in scoring.

Sometimes you do get a second, third, fourth or fifth chance to make a first impression after things go astray.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't worry," said Williams, who has had multiple drug arrests and wasn't even on an NBA roster last season while recovering from foot surgery. "I worried more when I wasn't playing than when I was in the NBA.

"But now it's crunch time for all of us. We're just trying to get somewhere and stick and be a part of a team. I feel like all of us want to be a part of the Lakers because there's an energy about this Lakers uniform and wearing Lakers across your chest."

No one has channeled that vitality more than Hill, who has been a force since moving into the starting lineup against New Orleans on Nov. 12. In the five games since, he's averaged 17 points and 11.4 rebounds while shooting 59.6%.

It's quite a leap in production for someone who had previously been known primarily for his hustle.

"Normally, an energy guy, you're saying he's only getting six points but he adds energy," Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Well, this guy is playing at an All-Star level. What he's doing is remarkable right now and there's no reason he can't keep that up."

D'Antoni has not always offered such kind words for a player he briefly coached after the New York Knicks drafted Hill No. 8 overall in 2009.

After falling out of D'Antoni's rotation and being traded to Houston midway through his first season, Hill told reporters D'Antoni didn't like playing rookies.

D'Antoni's response?

"I don't like to play bad rookies," the coach said.

Hill hasn't given D'Antoni any pause since they were reunited last November. He had already experienced a breakthrough with the Lakers late in the 2011-12 season before suffering a hip injury that sidelined him for much of last season.

Injuries also derailed Henry, the No. 12 pick in the 2010 draft, during his rookie season with Memphis. Then he struggled with his shooting and failed to make much of an impact the next two seasons with New Orleans.