Roy Hibbert has never been a guy to put up big numbers. He has never averaged anything close to a double-double in his career. He is a great rim protector who can occasionally score some easy baskets over smaller defenders. However something happened to Hibbert as the Pacers stumbled into the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat.
The Pacers and Hibbert started the season on a hot streak. They wanted the number one seed because they believed they could beat the Heat if they had home court advantage. For his career Roy Hibbert only averages 11.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg and 1.9 bpg. He’s not a dominate player at all so his numbers won’t really impress you. He had his best month in December, averaging 13. 4 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 1.6 bpg.
Before the All-Star break Hibbert was beginning to slow down. In January his numbers dropped. He was at 11 ppg, 6.9 rpg. He averaged more fouls per game than blocks. The Pacers were 5-2 in February before entering the All-Star but Hibbert had games in which he scored 9, 8, 4, 6 and 4 points. The Pacers were still winning so there was no panic around the league. The Pacers only lost 3 games in February but Hibbert only averaged 9.8 ppg and had seven games in which he was in single digits.
After the break the Pacers were in a funk and we couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Everyone was still healthy but they were just losing. The Heat caught them in the standings but they still held on to the number one seed. Hibbert continued to struggle only averaging 9 points in March and 5.3 in April. His rebounds and blocks continued to dip as his blocks per game stayed the same.
Things only got worst against the Hawks in the 1st round of the playoffs. He struggled and was benched multiple times as the Hawks pushed the Pacers to seven games. He had a few good games against the Wizards including a 28 point outburst. We thought he had figured it out and he would play against the Heat like he usually does. Last year in the Eastern Conference Finals he averaged 22 and 10 against the Heat in a great seven game series. This past Eastern Conference Finals he only averaged 10 ppg and 7.5 rpg. The Pacers lost in six and till this day I don’t know why Hibbert looked so bad.
This guy has trained in the off season with Tim Duncan. He has improved throughout the years and is a two time All-Star. His game fell off a cliff like he was battling an injury or had off court problems. Does anyone think he can get it back? Again he’s not a big time scorer or rebounded so don’t look at his numbers and be disgusted.
The Pacers lost Lance Stephenson and did not do a great job of replacing him. Hibbert is only 27 years old so he can have a bounce back season. At a request of Larry Bird, Roy Hibbert is now working with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the best centers ever. Hibbert is not the most skilled center in the league but he has some decent moves. He’s 7’2 so he should be able to take advantage of smaller players. Jabbar will not only help Hibbert’s moves on the court but maybe he can make him tougher mentally.
Hibbert’s problems seems to be more mental than anything. There were some problems in the locker room but he looked healthy. He wanted touches but he would not get into position to get touches. If he didn’t have a good first quarter he would check out of the game mentally. With the loss of Stephenson the Pacers will need Hibbert to be focused throughout the season if they plan on making it to at least the Eastern Conference Finals again in a tougher East.
With the loss of Paul George during the Team USA scrimmage the Pacers will rely heavily on Roy Hibbert. George is the leader of the team and they will struggle on both ends of the floor without him. Hibbert will have even more pressure on him now that his All-Star running mate will miss the entire season.